On the outside, the coconut sticky rice, xoi dua, is a very simple, tasty dish, one of several varieties of the dish that is a popular breakfast choice of many in Vietnam, including Hanoi.
However, there’s more to this particular variety that makes it difficult to get one that has the right taste.
Basically, the dish is a combination of glutinous rice with sesame, shredded coconut and a dash of brown sugar. It has a light sweet taste, great fragrance and does not “fill” you like other, more well known sticky rice varieties.
Despite its great taste and looks, the coconut sticky rice is not a ubiquitous presence on the street because making it is a relatively difficult, time consuming process.
The cook has to steam the rice twice after adding a pinch of salt. Then, the white strands of grated coconut and the sesame, essential to the dish, have to be roasted carefully. If the fire is too strong, they will get burnt, and the taste and fragrance of the dish will be lost. The second steaming happens after the rice has been mixed with the grated coconut and coconut milk.
Following the second steaming, the roasted and ground sesame, is sprinkled on top of the rice with a little touch of brown sugar and all this is mixed up before the dish is served.
A dish is both shiny and bright, with both the dark rice and white coconut having a glossy finish.
One of the few places that aficionados of this dish will recommend is Hoa’s coconut sticky rice stall on Ngo Van So Street. She also sells other sticky rice varieties including the xoi gac (with gac fruit ), xoi do den (black beans), xoi lac (peanuts) and xoi dau xanh (mung beans).
Hoa highlighted one more “difficulty” in making the coconut sticky rice. “Preparing the rice is what takes the most effort, you have to wash very carefully to make sure that every single grain is of good quality.”