Rice is one of the staple foods largely grown in China. It is also the main starch ingredient when it comes to the majority of Chinese cuisine. People in China consume rice in many different forms. It can be consumed as whole grain or turned into flour and used to make rice noodles and dumplings among other traditional dishes.
Rice flour is, however, not to be confused with Glutinous rice flour. Also called Mifen in Chinese, rice flour is fine flour made from gluten-free rice. That is different from glutinous rice flour made from sweet or glutinous rice. Rice flour has a neutral flavor and its color mainly ranges from white to brown depending on whether white or brown rice was used. It is also hypoallergenic hence used in gluten-free baking and is said to be easily digestible.
To further understand what rice flour is in China, we will look at the different methods the Chinese use to prepare rice flour. We will also cover the number of things that can be done with the rice flour. As a bonus, we will also give you a simple recipe you can make using Chinese rice flour.
How To Make Chinese Rice Flour?
There are two main ways to make rice flour. You can either grind it or mill it. Grinding it results in dry rice flour, with milling, however, there can either be dry milling or wet milling. Dry milling uses dry rice grains while wet milling uses presoaked rice grains. The following are some of the steps you can take to make rice flour using either of the two main methods.
Grinding using a blender
For this method add one to two cups of dry uncooked rice to the blender at a time. Adding in small amounts usually gives the blades enough room to grind the rice efficiently. Normally one cup of rice should give you one and a half cups of flour.
After adding the rice, cover the blender and turn it on to its highest setting. Keep in mind that if you’re going to make a lot of rice flour constantly, then you need to invest in a quality blender. That’s because the grains are hard on the blades.
Once the flour is fine ground pour it in an air-tight container or a resealable bag once all the air has been pushed out. If air happens to leak into the container, then the flour will spoil faster. Also, if you keep the flour too long it will start getting stale and musty. So, ensure you date the container before storing it so you can keep track of the storage time. You can either store the flour in the pantry or freezer. Storing in the latter will ensure it lasts longer.
Grinding using a coffee grinder
Unless you want your rice flour to taste like coffee, you need to start by cleaning out the grinder and removing any coffee. You can use a small spatula although a paintbrush is better for reaching the difficult corners. Ensure it is switched off while cleaning it. Once clean add 2-3 tablespoons of dry uncooked rice grains into the grinder at a time to avoid clogging. Turn on and grind until smooth. You might have to do it twice in the first round still produced coarse flour. When the flour is finely grounded, transfer it into an airtight container and place it in the pantry or fridge after dating the container.
Dry milling using a grain mill
Start by turning on the grain mill to its highest setting, to ensure the resulting flour will be finely ground. While it is on, slowly pours the uncooked dry rice grains into the hopper at the top of the mill. It will automatically grind the grains and drop the resulting flour in the canister attached to it. Turn off the mill once all the rice grains have been fully ground. Detach the canister and pour the flour into an airtight container. Date the container and store it in the pantry or freezer for up to 1 year.
For the wet mill, first, soak the rice grains overnight and grounding them with a stone mill. The flour is then sifted and placed in an airtight container and placed in the freezer. This type of flour normally tends to form soft lumps that you can easily break with your hands.
What To Do with Chinese Rice Flour?
Like we mentioned earlier there is a lot you can do with rice flour including making dumpling wrappers and rice noodles. You can also use it for coating in place of wheat flour. It’s also used in baking, especially gluten-free pastries. We want to share with you a recipe for a Chinese traditional pastry called rice flour huat kueh. It’s a lightly sweet tasting pastry, slightly chewy and soft when warm and dries up when frozen. It’s one of the easiest recipes you can make. The following are the ingredients you’ll need:
- Red food coloring
- 150 grams of rice flour
- 120 ml coconut milk
- 80 grams of icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
Start by boiling water in the steamer. Line the cups with a paper liner (alternatively if you’re using small teacups then lightly oil them) Next mix together baking powder, salt, icing sugar, and rice flour. Then add coconut milk and stir until the batter is thick. For coloring, add a few drops of red food coloring depending on how deep you want the color. Once the batter is ready, use a spoon to scoop the batter. Fill the cups 3/4 way and steam over high heat for 15 minutes. After that, check the cake. The cake tester should come out clean. If they’ve been cooked through, take a cool down in the cup for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to let them cool down completely. They’re now ready to be consumed.
When it comes to white and brown rice flour, they each have their benefits. White rice flour is cheaper, lasts longer, and the best option for baking light pastries. Brown rice flour on the other hand is best for baking denser pastries and adds a nutty touch. It’s also considered more nutritious. Overall, rice flour is useful especially if you’re looking for gluten-free options.