Rice cakes — an improvisation

I’m back again for Meatless Monday!

Despite common perception :), my cooking does not always turn out well. This was one of those times that challenged me to turn things around into something good.

It all started when looking for something to use the remainder of some fresh mushrooms before they began to degrade. The dish I had in mind was “Rice with Mushrooms and Mustard Seeds” (page 104), again from Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbook Quick & Easy Indian Cooking that I have been having fun going through. Up ’til now, I’ve basically been pleased with everything I’ve made from the recipes in this book. Some things more than other things, but overall nothing I would absolutely not make again. Unfortunately, this recipe did not turn out all that well for me.

Follow me as explain what probably happened, and how I then recovered to make some great rice cakes from my cooking flop.

Here are the main ingredients being measured and prepared …

Starting to prepare the ingredients
Starting to prepare the ingredients; the spices are whole cumin seed and black mustard seed

The recipe called for long grain white rice and I got it in my mind to use some white Jasmine rice I had on hand. There was no designation as to what kind of rice to use in the recipe, although I now realize that white basmati was probably assumed. I had too late read past the instructions near the beginning of the recipe to rinse the rice several times and drain, which is something that would be generally done for basmati. But since I already had it in my mind to use Jasmine which does not need rinsing, I just overlooked all that — which I think might have been the reason for the failed recipe — see later …

And the assembled pot … I had started in a smaller pot (the recipe did not give indication other than a saucepan), and realized once I got past the spices and onion, upon dumping in the mushrooms to toss with the seasonings, that I was going to be well past the point of that pot’s capacity.

First stages of cooking
First stages of cooking

So I switched to this larger pot. The recipe called for either chicken broth or water. I used a ratio of about 2 parts broth to water …

The larger pot
The larger pot

The cooked rice … fluffy and I thought it was done. But it had cooked unevenly. Not totally bad, but pretty crunchy/undone in places. Probably not enough liquid? (remember, I had not washed it beforehand to give it the extra moisture the recipe was probably expecting)

Almost-cooked rice (but not quite)
Almost-cooked rice (but not quite)

So I put in a bit more liquid and left it on low heat to cook some more.

OK … better now, but still not there.

Better, but not quite
Better, but not quite

Try again with some more liquid and more cooking time. Now it’s less crunchy in places, but jeesh it’s getting like glue. Oh no … That big pot of rice! It’s edible (sort of), but I think I am going to soon tire of eating a gluey pot of rice.

Glue-ey rice
Oh no! gluey rice

After cooling, I set the pot aside overnight. Figured I’d either have a brainstorm of how to improvise (I hate to throw out food), or it was going to get the best of me and I would just have to admit defeat.

Ah! Ah! — idea. One of the things I love to do with leftover mashed potatoes is to make little pan-seared pancakes. As gluey as this rice stuff is, it certainly seemed like it would hold together for some good rice (pan)cakes. And it did!

Rice (pan)cakes
Rice (pan)cakes

They came out great — the crispy outside was perfect and moistly flavorful inside. Sort of reminded me of the sweet sticky rice in lotus leaf that I like so much when we go out for Sunday dim sum at the Royal China in Metairie. The question is whether I can replicate this to make it again?!

Written by Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer - Visit Website

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