How to make Syrup Rice Cakes from scratch? This week, we wanted to teach you a sweet snack from the Sichuan province, Hongtang Ciba, pounded rice cake.
These can be enjoyed really whenever but in my opinion, at least they’re practically mandatory to cut the heat when chowing down some fiery Chongqing hotpot.
How To Make Syrup Rice Cakes From Scratch?
And while rice cakes from scratch do take a bit of planning, they’re crispy, gooey, smothered in syrup… and pretty much impossible not to like.
So to get started with your pounded rice cake,you’ll need rice. 200 grams of long grain sticky rice to be precise.
See, just like not-sticky rice, there are different grains of glutinous rice – long grain is the least sticky of the three, and also what’s most commonly seen in Southeast Asia, so something like Thai sticky rice would also be a good bet here.
So then we’ll just give our rice a good solid rinse, about three or four times, which will get rid of some of that surface starch.
Then we’ll just fill it up with water about an inch or so over the rice, and let that soak for at least four hours or up to overnight.
So next day now, the rice should be soft enough that you could take an individual grain and easily break it apart with your fingers.
So assuming that that’s good to go, transfer it all over to a strainer. Now, we’ll be steaming our rice in a bamboo steamer lined with cloth – this here is a cotton cloth but anything food safe should be ok.
So then just add in the rice, spread it evenly, then using your fingers poke some holes in it – this will help the sticky rice cook evenly.
So then just move that over to some boiling water, and set your timer for fifteen minutes.
Fifteen minutes later now, open up your steamer and sprinkle some water over the rice.
This is so that the sticky rice doesn’t get too hard when steaming, and for reference, we sprinkled on about a half cup in total here.
Top off your steamer if it’s running a little low, then let that go for another fifteen minutes.
So, let’s talk about equipment.
We’re doing pounded rice cakes today, which are most traditionally done in a mortar. During testing, we did try one of these smaller mortars at first, and while it did work,it was an enormous pain.
See, what’s usually used for this kind of stuff is called a shijiu, which’s functionally pretty much the same thing as one of those very cool large Thai mortars.
So if you have a Thai mortar? awesome, we’ll show you how to use that. But assuming that you don’t, we also found this to be perfectly doable using a large, heavy chopping board and some sort of blunt instrument.
We’ll personally be using a large wooden pestle for this, but you could equally use a rolling pin, or even break out a hammer in a pinch.
So chopping board up first. Start by spreading over a bit of oil on your board – this’ll prevent our rice from sticking to the wood.
Then just drop on your now-steamed sticky rice, grab your blunt-object-of-choice, and get to pounding periodically scraping it over itself with a wet bench scraper.
Go as nuts as your chopping board can feasibly handle, letting all your frustrations out on the guy for a good five minutes or so.
For the mortar then, this’s pretty much self-explanatory.
You will first want to add a bit of water around the sides of the mortar to prevent sticking, but then you’ll just go at it and give it a good pound in the same way.
Especially if you’re using a wooden mortar-like us though, it is a good idea to periodically wet a rubber spatula and scrape down the sides.
But regardless of whether you’re using the mortar or the chopping board, what you’ll be looking for is a more sticky uniform gloop that’ll be able to stick to the pestle after a pound like so.
Then once you’re at that point? Lay down some seran wrap, and plop your now-pounded sticky rice in the very center of it. Then
fold the plastic wrap over the rice, twist up, and seal it. Shape by smacking it flat with your hands, then fold in the sides like a box.
Now this will need to go into the freezer to set for at least four hours, but overnight is ideal.
So this was yesterday’s batch, and as you can see, the stuff is like a brick.
There is a reason why back in the day sticky rice also used to be used in concrete.
You’ll first need to let it sit for at least half an hour before you can even think about cutting it but then we’ll be using half those today and putting the rest back in the freezer.
So just turn those on their side and cut them in half, and these are good to fry.
So now, some people choose to pan-fry these, but predictably the very best results are from deep frying. So just get a wok of oil
up to 170 centigrade, and drop in your rice cakes.
These’ll only need to fry for a quick thirty seconds or so once they’re floating and ever so lightly browned, take them out, and transfer over to a paper towel lined plate.
Now, to top these, probably the most well know route’s first smothering it with this stuff – toasted soybean powder.
This’s also used in some Japanese desserts as well and should be purchasable at most Asian supermarkets.
But just in case, let’s just show you how to make some from scratch real quick.
So in a skillet over a medium flame, toss in thirty grams of dried soybeans and give those a toast, stirring constantly.
Then after about three minutes or so, once the soy beans heated up a bit swap the flame down to the lowest flame your stove go and toast for about ten minutes more.
You’ll know the soybeans are done once they’ve deepened in color and the shells have obviously split open like so.
So then just transfer to a mortar or spice grinder, give it a good grind, and pass it through a strainer.
Then toss your leftovers back into the mortar grind it again, then strain again.
Now just remove the course bits, jar up the powder, and then you’ve got yourself some toasted soybean powder.
Then besides that? We’ll also be topping with syrup, of course.
To make it, add 50 grams of dark brown sugar and 50 grams of water to a small saucepan.
The heat that over a low flame until it’s all good and melted, about six minutes, then dip it out and reserve.
So then to serve, just toss the soybean powder in a small strainer and dust it all over the fried rice cakes, move them over to your serving plate, then drizzle that syrup all over everything. And with that, your hong tang Ciba are done, and be sure to devour them immediately.
So the technique that we used here makes a very gooey and fluffy rice cake, which’s what we love in a Ciba rice cake but – it also loses its structural integrity after sitting a little bit.
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