Sunday, July 15, 2007

rice cakes, sort of like mom used to make

After yesterday’s pesto mayo non-recipe, I felt like I should actually cook something to prove that I can, and sometimes do, actually cook. (I’m not sure who I felt that I needed to prove this to, but I felt it anyway.) Yesterday I made Tai peanut chicken on white rice for lunch (the complicated recipe included cooking the chicken and pouring Thai peanut sauce from a bottle onto it and the rice), and made way more rice than I actually needed, so I decided that I would make Mom’s Rice Cakes with the leftovers.

When we were little, my mom would, when the urge hit her, make rice cakes on the weekends, a big batch of them, and they were great because you could eat them hot and salted, right out of the pan, but later the leftover ones were just as good cold from the fridge. Like so many things, mom did so effortlessly that it never occurred to me until years later that she had to make rice first, season it, watch it, and keep children entertained at the same time. If she made them on a Saturday, the entertainment part was taken care of, and now that I think of it we were much more likely to get them on Saturday than on Sunday, what with church and all.

Anyway, I called mom yesterday to get the recipe, and found out that there isn’t really a recipe. After much back and forth (“How big a pinch? Like a big pinch or a dash pinch?” “What kind of cookies? Chocolate chip, no-bake, or oatmeal raisin?” “Enough to cover the bottom of the pan and float them, or enough to just cover the bottom and a little more? Like a quarter inch? An eighth? A half inch of oil?”), I ended up with this:

1 egg for every cup of rice
1 dash of sugar
1 dash of salt
1 dash of pepper
Enough flour to bind it together until it’s a consistency between oatmeal raisin cookie and chocolate chip cookie dough

So I dumped the rice in a bowl and got started:

rice cake ingredients

The adding flour part was tricky. For some strange reason I don’t have a set of measuring cups. I usually just use my two glass measuring cups for wet and dry ingredients, but I’d already beaten the eggs with a fork in one of them and the other was in the dishwasher from yesterday, so I had to guess at the flour. I have no idea how many spoons I used, but when I could scoop out a lump of dough and it held together I figured that was enough, and got ready to fry.

rice cake batter

frying the rice cakes

Frying turned out to be the worst part. First, I didn’t realize that I needed to flatten the dough balls after I dropped them in the pan, so the first three were kind of like rice biscuits or dumplings. Once I realized that they weren’t going to sink on their own, like cookies do, I flattened the next batch, and they became the right shape. The color was a whole other matter. They should, based on memory, be a kind of pastel lemon yellow, like a pale mustard or light buttercup yellow. Getting them that color on one side, flipping them, and getting the same color on the other side was a trick that I mastered maybe three times out of over a dozen cakes.

finished rice cakes

How the hell did mom do that right every time? Did she just never make a mistake, or did the mistakes go right from the pan and into the dog’s mouth? They tasted fine, but they’re not supposed to be brown.

Also, the oil was spitting a little by the end, which was my fault for not watching the temperature, and I got a little burned spot on my finger that seems fine until something touches it, and then it hurts like hell.

1 comment:

September said...

Keep up the good work.