Crispy Rice Crackers (Khao Tang)

2 cups or more just-cooked jasmine rice
Peanut or other oil for deep-frying

Use warm to hot rice. With a rice paddle or wooden spoon, spread the rice onto a lightly oiled baking sheet to make a layer about 1/2 inch thick. Press down with your paddle to compact the rice so that it sticks together. Don’t worry about ragged edges, as you will be breaking up the rice into large crackers after it dries.

Place the baking sheet in a preheated 350°F oven and immediately lower the temperature to 250°F. Let dry for 3 to 4 hours. The “bottom will be lightly browned.
When the rice is dry, lift it off the baking sheet in pieces. Break it into smaller pieces (about 2 inches across, or as you please), then store well sealed in a plastic bag until ready to use.

To fry the crackers, heat 2 to 3 inches of peanut oil in a large well-balanced wok, deep fryer, or large heavy pot to 325° to 350°F. To test the temperature, drop a small piece of fried rice cake into the oil: It should sink to the bottom and immediately float back to the surface without burning or crisping. Adjust the heat as necessary.

Add several pieces of dried rice cracker to the hot oil and watch as the rice grains swell up. When the first sides stop swelling, turn them over and cook on the other side until well puffed and just starting to brown (about 30 seconds in all). Use a slotted spoon to remove them immediately to a paper towel–lined platter or rack to drain. Gather up any small broken pieces; these make delicious croutons. Fry the remaining pieces of rice cracker the same way, making sure that the oil is hot enough each time. Serve hot and fresh, to accompany soup or salsa. Store in a cool place for no more than a week.

NOTE: You can also use freshly cooked sticky rice to make these crackers.

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