Pepper Teigen doesn't usually eat dessert, but when she does, you can safely bet it's a bowl of coconut sticky rice with mangoes. Also known as khao niao mamuang, this sweet, coconutty study in textures and temperatures makes regular appearances on restaurant menus and in Thai home kitchens. And for Teigen-the Instagram-famous mom of Chrissy and author of The Pepper Thai Cookbook-sticky rice with mangoes can be a meal in itself.
While this simple dish requires only a handful of pantry staples and fresh fruit, it also demands patience-often up to an hour in total, with the bulk of that time devoted to steaming the sticky rice in a basket over a pot on the stove. But with one genius tweak, Teigen's recipe slashes the cooking time considerably, taking the rice from rock hard to perfectly tender in just a few minutes.
Her method: Take it to the microwave.
Forgoing the stovetop in favor of zapping the rice in the microwave is a simple, time-saving technique that doesn't sacrifice flavor or consistency. "It ends up being a very, very close texture and taste" to traditionally cooked sticky rice, says Teigen. "I don't even think I could tell the difference if I did a blind taste test."
The dish comes out supremely rich and creamy, with a hint of earthy sweetness from the warm coconut milk contrasting the bright acidity of the cold, fresh mango slices. (If you need a refresher, here's how to peel and cut a mango perfectly every time.) Teigen tops her sticky rice with toasted shredded coconut, sesame seeds, and mint. She also likes to decorate the dessert with a flower-she's partial to purple orchids to complement the yellow mango-or add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
To make Teigen's version of this Thai classic, place a cup and a half of sticky rice in a microwave-safe bowl, add two cups of water, and let it soak for 10 minutes. (White sticky rice is standard here, but you could use black sticky rice for a nuttier alternative.) After the rice has plumped up slightly, cover the bowl with a plate or plastic wrap and microwave the rice on high in three-minute intervals, stirring between each, until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is fully cooked. Depending on your microwave, this will take between five and 10 minutes.
As the rice cooks, bring a can of full-fat coconut milk to a boil in a small pot or saucepan and stir in the sugar and salt. Once the rice has cooked through, pour the sweetened coconut milk over the rice. Let it sit for about five minutes, during which time the rice will soak up the milk and take on a soft, bouncy texture. Divide the rice into small bowls, layer on your preferred toppings, and enjoy.
Teigen says she picked up the microwave trick from her co-author, Garrett Snyder, and now she uses it all the time. "The grandkids love sticky rice, and it's an easy way to make a really quick meal for them," she tells me. Maybe they'll take on the prep themselves soon-as Teigen says, "It's so easy and simple, anyone can make it."