Roasted Rice Flour – Kao Kua
by Kasma Loha-unchit
Available in small plastic bags from some Southeast Asian markets, roasted rice powder is simply white rice that has been dry-roasted until the grains turn a rich brown color, then ground to make a fine tan powder. Tossed into spicy salads, it adds a pleasant toasted fragrance and flavor, while at the same time absorbs juices to keep the salads dry. Ground roasted rice is popularly used in very spicy northeastern-style salads, such as Northeastern-style Minced Chicken Salad with Mint and Toasted Rice (Lahb Gkai).
If you are not able to find the pre-packaged powder, make your own by roasting white rice in a dry pan, preferably cast-iron, over low to medium heat, stirring frequently to evenly brown to a rich dark color. This takes about 10-15 minutes. If the grains are browning too quickly or unevenly, the heat is too high – lower accordingly. Slow roasting yields a more fragrant and less gritty result, as the grains brown not only on the outside, but cook through to the interior. The grains do pick up a lot of heat, so let cool before grinding to a fine powder in a clean coffee grinder. Hot rice can melt the plastic lid of your grinder.
I prefer using white glutinous rice to regular white rice for roasting, because it is more porous, cooks through easier and yields a less gritty powder. Roasted rice powder keeps for up to a year in an airtight jar in a cool place in the pantry.
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