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Rice cakes offer a lot for any dish they’re added to. They’ve got a unique chewy texture and a neutral flavor, so they’re ready for any sauce or filling you give them. But what exactly is a rice cake? Well, we are getting all up in that today!
We will break down what a rice cake is and give you some fun facts about its creation. Then, after making you get a little history under your belt, we will provide you with a few ways to make them and the best rice to use.
A rice cake is made from glutinous rice that has been ground down to a sticky consistency and resembles a paste. They can also be made from glutinous rice flour mixed with a few cups of water and other ingredients.
Like we said before, they have a neutral flavor and soak up their flavor from the sauce or filling they go with. It’s similar to pasta in Italian cuisine. The main star of the dish but complemented by the ingredients, it’s surrounded by.
What’s so great about eating rice cakes? There’s a decent amount of energy to be gained from eating them (thank you, carbohydrates). You can also get three and a half grams of protein per one ounce of rice cakes eaten.
We may love the versatility of this delightful ingredient, but we need to know more about the history of the rice cake. Did you know that mochi, a popular sweet treat in Japan, was around 749 A.D. and enjoyed by nobility during the Nara period? They were created during a period in Japan when it was heavily influenced by Chinese culture.
Before mochi, 722 B.C, China (Wu dynasty) had nian gao, their version of the rice cake. The prime minister at the time was said to have saved the country from starvation by shaping sticky rice paste into bricks and feeding it to his people. It was also a dish said to be eaten on the Lunar New Year during the Liao dynasty.
Meanwhile, in Korea, rice cakes are known as garaetteok. They’re steamed rice cakes that have been made out of kneaded and rolled rice flour. Generally, in Korean street food, these are cut down into smaller sizes and stir-fried to make a dish known as tteokbokki.
There are a few ways that you can make rice flour. For starters, rice cake is generally made from white rice. Following this, the more traditional way is with homemade rice.
You soak medium or short grain rice overnight in water, then drain and allow to do so for an hour. Grind it in a food processor. Ensure that ALL rice is ground up to be left with fresh rice flour.
That may be traditional, but there are rice flours you can buy that make the process much easier.
The first is Erawan rice flour, or rice powder. It’s a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine and is perfect for getting the right consistency to make rice cakes. There’s also Koda mochiko sweet rice flour. This is the right consistency and creates the perfect texture needed for homemade mochi and rice crackers.
You’ll combine rice flour with hot water, tapioca powder or cornstarch, and salt to make the base. After steaming, it will need to be coerced into the right texture. You’ll need to roll and knead the dough until the perfect consistency is created. Then you’ll divide the dough into sections and rub a few drops of sesame oil onto your palms.
Roll out each section of dough until it is long round pieces. Cut these long strips into smaller bits that will be cooked. These rice cakes are ready to go and ready for your favorite recipes.
Let’s look at some rice cakes recipes next!
We told you that nian gao is the O.G. of rice cakes, but we haven’t told you all about it yet! Nian gao roughly translates to “high year,” so the idea is to grow and prosper in the coming year. It is a sweet cake that is baked, allowed to cool, then seared in a pan with vegetable oil to serve. You can eat it immediately after baking, but it will have a gooey consistency and won’t keep its shape.
Tteok is a steamed rice cake that is traditionally used in Korean cuisine. The tteokbokki dish we referenced earlier utilizes this style of rice cake. It’s a style of rice cake that uses glutinous and non-glutinous forms of rice flour to create a pliable dough.
These rice cakes are used for sweet and savory dishes and are perfect for soaking up all the flavors. In tteokbokki, the rice cakes will soak up all the stir fry spices.
Puto is a Filipino sweet treat made from steamed rice cakes. This is a party-staple dish
bring to house parties or family get-togethers.
These cakes are light and fluffy and can be served with melted butter, cheese, and sometimes with coconut milk or other flavorings added to the dough.
Ube is a popular topping and is often added to puto during the Christmas season.
Mochi is a traditional Japanese dessert. They can be filled with sweet pastes, like red bean paste and green tea.
Now, you can find ice cream has become one of the more catching filings in recent years. They’re round, and the rice cake is thick but very soft and chewy.
A really popular treat in Japan is Kashiwa mochi. It is filled with red bean paste and served most traditionally for Children’s Day. It is a day to celebrate children and honor their growth, happiness, and achievements. Mochi is wrapped in oak leaves, which aren’t edible, but they represent the growth and prosperity of children.
Tteokguk, or rice cake soup, is a traditional Korean dish served for the new year. The rice cakes are sliced into discs and swim in a lovely broth that is flavorful and hearty. It has a beef broth mixed with soy sauce for a salty, rich flavor. Tteokguk is then garnished with sauteed beef and green onion.
Also very popular in Korean food is kimchi. There’s a variation of tteokguk that utilizes the spicy, tangy flavors of kimchi to add a balance to the rich depth of the beef.
Rice cake spring rolls are a side dish that is very popular in Korean cuisine. These rice cakes are wrapped with spring roll paper before being deep-fried. They’re crispy and crunchy on the outside with a gooey, chewy center. Brush with a little melted butter before serving, and your taste buds will be thrilled.
So many rice cakes, so little time. Umamicart is all about you experiencing and enjoying all our recipes and tips and tricks in the best ways they serve your palette and preferences.
What are you waiting for? Order your favorite Asian groceries now and shop at Umamicart today!
Exploring Different Types of Tteok | Asia Society
Puto - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics
How to roll rice paper rolls | myfoodbook
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