Cooking – Log 12 – 05.05.2014
Hi ya all,
How was your holiday/weekend? Mine was a peace. 🙂 People always say, “having a blast”, but somehow, I prefer having peace. I think it was due to the fact that my life is on a leaf of faith right now that I needed peace and determination more than ever.
To continue paying my due to the Cooking session, today, I want to share with you one of the most additive Vietnamese snack I have ever eaten my entire life. I understand that this is one hell of a bold statement, but trust me on this, you tried one bite, you got totally hooked, you ate the whole tray, then you just have to make them all over again because you realize that “hey, my dears haven’t had one yet”, and you keep walking down this path of shame, repeating the same things all over, until your stomach just cannot take it anymore.
What is it, Rose, that is so additive?
It is Vietnamese Savory Crispy Rice Cracker, a.k.a. Cơm Cháy. On the outside it has a beautiful golden color with bit and piece of chopped chili and dried pork floss. The crispiness its promise just by the look is so tempting, you just have to take a bite. How does it taste in your mouth? Sweet, savory with just enough spiciness, this is one to keep.
Best part is, if you have any left over rice at home after an Asian dinner with friends, you can totally turn these old rice into this wonderful, hard-to-resist, yet very easy-to-make snack.
Excited yet? Me too.
- Make 1 full-sheet of 35x35cm
- Difficulty: Easy
- 250g white rice
- 250g glutinous rice (or you can use all white rice)
- ½ tsp. salt
- Vegetable oil or Canola oil, for frying
- 100g pork floss (store-bought from Asian markets, or make your own following instruction here or here. I usually made this with my Grandma, so I will blog about this once I take all necessary pictures)
- Chopped scallion stir-fried in oil or chopped herbs of your choice (optional)
- Chopped, roasted nut (optional)
- Japanese nori (dried seaweed)
Sweet Fish Sauce
- 2 tbsp. fish Sauce
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 2 tbsp. Sweet Chili Sauce (Store-bought or make your own following instruction here)
- ½ tsp. Vinegar
Step 1: Preparing the rice by rinsing and cooking it as you usually do with rice, no thing fancy here. Let try to reduce the water a little bit less than you normally cook the rice because you want to retain the rice shape. The combination of normal and glutinous rice will give your cooked rice enough stickiness to hold together for later step, plus the flavor enhanced.
Step 2: Preheat the oven to 130 degree C for drying, or better yet, using a dehydrator set at max temperature.
Step 3: Prepare 2 full-size baking tray lined with baking paper. Brush oil on the paper to make it easier to peel the rice off after drying.
Step 4: Dump the cooked rice into one prepared tray. Wet your hand or a spatula lightly in a mild salt solution (1 salt: 10 water) or grease it with oil to prevent sticking and flatten rice evenly on the tray to about 0.5-0.8 cm thick. With 500g of rice, I usually can make a 35x35cm rice sheet.
Step 5: Use a scraper to divide the rice sheet evenly of 5x5cm squares. This will make it so much easier to break the dried rice into pieces later.
Step 6: Place rice tray in the oven and set the baking time for 1 hour. Leave the door ajar using a wooden spoon, like this. Ah, how I miss my old Finnish oven.
Step 7: Remember that you have another baking tray prepared with paper and oil? Now, remove rice tray from the oven. Lift the rice sheet from the tray and flip it upside down onto the receiving tray. Be careful, the tray is super hot. Or if you are lazy, like me in this pic, just use your hand.
Step 8: Place rice tray into the oven and dry it for another hour.
Step 9: Meanwhile, we prepare the sweet fish sauce by combining all the ingredients together, mix well, adjust taste to your preference, e.g. sweeter, spicier, etc. and set aside. Don’t be afraid of the fish sauce, it is the backbone in Vietnamese cuisine, and it was not that badly smelled if you compliment it with enough herbs and spices.
Step 10: Remove rice from the oven. By now, the rice should be dried evenly on both sides, slightly shrunken, and the rice looks translucent, like this.
If not, flip it over to the less dried side, and pop it into the oven for another 20-30 minutes. And after that comes the fun and furious part: frying the rice and assembling the crackers.
Step 11: Prepare a large plate with kitchen napkin on the bottom. This is to help absorbing all the extra oil from the freshly fried rice cracker.
Step 12: Bring oil on high heat. Break it into pieces. The rice will expand once you fry it so be sure the size of the rice pieces are smaller than the fry pan.
Step 13: Dip the dried rice into the hot oil. The oil needs to be very hot when frying the rice. And the rice will turn brown quickly so don’t take your eyes off it and don’t put more rice pieces in the pan more than you could handle.
Step 14: You will see that the rice will pop like popcorn, starting from the edge. You have it a turn to the other side until it has popped evenly on both sides.
Step 15: Remove fried rice from frying pan and place it the napkin plate so that the oil can be absorbed into the napkin. Drizzle sweet sauce over the rice right when it’s still hot. The sizzling sound when you drizzle the sauce over the hot and crispy rice crackers makes cooking this even more fun.
Step 16: Sprinkle pork floss and all other topping you might have over it. Transfer it to a baking tray to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining rice.
Step 17: Once it’s cooled, dig in, and I think that by now, you are wishing that you had double this recipe.
Store crispy rice crackers in a airtight container. The crispiness will last for at least a week, but again, just so we are clear, I doubt it lasts that long. For longer storage, place the rice cracker tray back in the oven while it’s still hot for about 5-7 minutes. This process is to dry off the fish sauce and to keep the rice crackers crispy for longer period of time.
Until next time,