Thursday, September 1, 2016

Thai Rice "Crackers": a crunchy, nonallergenic way to hold up dips and spreads

     Sometimes making the perfect
guacamole, tapenade or jelly isn't good enough. If you're allergic to corn, soy, wheat, yeast, etc., what do you hold it up with? Most tortillas, chips and breads contain at least one of those allergens. In principle rice crackers are all right, though plain ones are sometimes hard to find: most are flavored with cheese, sesame or another allergen. 

     I happened to discover one solution by ordering a dip with "rice crackers" in a Thai restaurant. Instead of crackers, I got delightful, crispy rounds made up of whole grains of rice. These are not to be confused with commercial "rice cakes," which are bland and boring. 

     These "rice crackers" are easy enough to make, although they do require advance planning. 

     Thai sticky rice (also known as "sweet rice") (See Rice in the Glossary)
     oil for frying (See Oil in the Glossary)
     salt (See Salt in the Glossary)

     First soak the rice in cold water for at least two hours and drain it. The next step is to cook the rice. This kind of rice needs to be steamed, not boiled, for 20-25 min. This can be done by spreading the soaked rice out on a splatter guard for frying, placing the splatter guard over a wide skilletful of boiling water and covering with an inverted mixing bowl. (For commentary on this method, go to this page.) Now spread the cooked rice out on a lightly greased surface to a thickness of 1/4" or so and cut it into rounds using a glass. (I recommend greasing the rim of the glass.) The remaining bits of rice can be lumped together and spread out again until it is all used up. Now you need to dry the rice out thoroughly.  This can be done by placing the rounds on a lightly greased cooky sheet and baking them at 200 F for a couple of hours, turning them over once. At this point you can store the rounds in the fridge until you are ready to fry them. 

     Preheat a layer of oil to medium high in a skillet, add the rounds to the oil and cook until they turn golden brown on the bottom.  Turn them all over and cook until they are golden on the other side also. Allow them to drain and cool for a couple of minutes.

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