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Bai Kdaing Bamporng

Crispy Rice Cakes

 

 

 Food_-_crispy_rice_cakes_-_thumbnail

Crispy rice cakes are popular as a snack served with a topping of chopped spring onion sauce*. Originally, it was a way of using up the leftover rice crust, formed whilst cooking and stuck to the bottom of an earthen or cast iron rice pot. As rice crust is rather hard to chew, most people don’t like it. So, instead of throwing it away, our clever ancestors created a delicious use of this unwanted rice by turning it into rice cakes.

Today, in rural areas in Cambodia, this practice is still continued because many villagers still use the above traditional method of cooking rice, (though using earthen pot is not as prevelant) which results in rice crusts being formed. It is therefore not unusual to see these rice crusts being dried in the sun in the countryside.

However, with the  advent of  electric rice-cookers which don't create rice crust, city / town people who want them have to use an alternative method as described on the right. 

As time passed, this has become part of a rather posh Khmer dish called Nataing which is a popular snack for  town people. Although, originally this crispy rice cakes are made from plain rice, some prefers them made from  sticky rice instead. This is because the sticky rice cakes taste better  than those of the plain rice.

* For spring/green onion sauce, you need: 2Tbsp oil, 1 shallot thinly sliced,  ½ cup of chopped spring/green onion, 1 tsp fish sauce or soya sauce, 1 Tbsp palm/brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. Heat a small pot over medium high heat until hot; add  sliced shallot and stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add sugar and fish sauce or soya sauce, until the sugar has dissolved ; add spring/green onion mix well for a few seconds and remove from the heat and adjust the taste.

In the northern areas of Cambodia, people have a slightly different version of recipe. They mix 2 beaten eggs to the 'Spring Onion Sauce'  ingredients; then dip the dried rice cake in the mixture; and deep fry it. This has gained its nickname as 'Bai kdaing srok Srè'. It is actually rather lovely.

Serves 3-4

 Ingredients:

Jasmine rice or sticky rice 1 cup (yield around 15 rice cakes)
Water 1 cup
Salt 1 pinch
Oil for deep-frying (should be around 7-8 cm / 3 inch deep)

 

Method:

 1. Cook the sticky rice or jasmine rice - see links for recipes: 'Steamed Rice'or 'Steamed Sticky Rice'. Let it cool down and keep warm.

2. Meanwhile, lightly grease a baking sheet or cookie baking tin. Wet your fingers with cold water, spread the cooked rice as evenly as possible to a thickness of ½ cm / ¼ inch, and form it into a big square whilst ensuring that the rice grains are stuck together well with no holes (must be done by hand, as if pressed solid it will not puff up). You will need to re-wet your fingers with cold water a few times to minimize the rice from sticking to them. This process may take 10 minutes or so.

3. Bake in an oven for 2 hours or so at the lowest temperature possibe  80ºC/176ºF/Gas 0. Halfway through baking, remove the tin from the oven, use a spatula to loosen the rice square and turn it over. Before returning it to the oven, use scissors to cut it into small squares of 5 cm / 2 inch. Continue baking until they are hard and fully dry. Remove from the oven and leave them to cool.

Note: if you live in a country with has plenty of sunshine, you can skip the baking - and just dry the rice square in the sun for a few days or until it hard and completely dry.

4. The next stage is to crisp the rice cakes. In a wok / heavy skillet,  gradually heat the oil over a medium high heat until the oil is very hot when it reaches 180ºC/350ºF or until a small piece of bread dropped in the oil browns in 5 seconds. Drop the dried rice cake, one or two at a time, into the hot oil, and when it rises to the top, turn it over and count to 3; remove it and drain on kitchen paper. The resulting cakes should be puffed and crispy but still white.

Note: Halfway through cooking, as the oil becomes hotter with time, you may need to lower the heat so that the temperature is constant.

Alternative method for making rice cakes:

Whilst the cooked rice is kept warm, line a sushi rolling mat with a long piece of cling / wrapping foil leaving 1 cm / ½ inch margin on the side nearer to you; but overlaps of  5 cm / 2 inch on both sides of the  rolling mat. Spread the warm rice on the lined rolling mat on the side nearer to you in the form of a big sausage; and roll the same way as rolling a sushi. Once rolled, grip film at the two ends of the rice sausage, lift it up with both hands; and twirl it in a rolling motion in order to seal the ends. Keep the rice sausages in the fridge overnight or at least 4 hours.

 Grease a baking sheet or a cookie baking tin sligthly with oil. Wet a very sharp knife with cold water, then slice the rice sausages (still wrapped in film) into a ½ cm / ¼ inch discs. Remove the film, and arrange the rice discs on the baking sheet or cookie baking tin. Bake and puff them as instructed in paragraph 3 and 4 respectively.

Tip:

 Dried rice cakes can be stored in an airtight container for several months and deep fried when needed .

Sushi rice or Italian pudding rice can be substituted as long as it is reasonably fresh and the grains are sticky once cooked.

‘Black sticky/glutinous rice or Basmati rice cannot be used to make this type of crispy rice cakes - unless the rice crust is formed naturally using an earthen or cast iron pot. This is because these types of rice don't stick together very well enough, and disintegrate when you try to puff them.