This is Low Dao’s recipe for toong mai – Chinese puffed rice. I’ve never seen him make this before. One lazy Friday afternoon he just looked in his pantry, saw the surplus of ginger candy and sweet mochi rice, and said, “I make puffy rice today”. And just like that, he conjured up some delicious treats for his grandchildren.
How To Make Toong Mai – Recipe And Guide
- 1 lb. mochi (sweet) rice (approx. 2 1/4 c.)
- 1 1/4 c. sugar
- 1/4 c. plain unsalted peanuts, chopped
- 1 1/2 oz. crystallized ginger candy, minced (not hard candy). If you don’t have access to this, peel and slice fresh ginger and boil in water with sugar for 5 minutes.
- vegetable oil for frying
- 1/4 tsp. cornstarch
How To Make
Soak the mochi rice in water for 4 to 5 hours or overnight, then drain. To make sure the rice steams evenly, first put the rice in a colander and dig a well in the middle of the rice. Pour boiling water in the well and all around the rice prior to steaming. Make sure all the water drains out before putting the rice in the steamer. Place a cheese cloth in the steamer to keep the grains from falling through the holes. Put the rice on top of the cheese cloth and steam for 20 minutes.
Note: If you don’t have a steamer, you can rig one pretty easily. Place a wire rack at the bottom of a deep pot and place a metal colander on the rack. Put the rice directly in the colander and fill the pot with just enough water to cover the bottom (make sure the water doesn’t touch the rice) and cover the pot. Be sure to check the water so it doesn’t evaporate entirely and use a hand mitt when removing the colander.
** Do not oversteam the rice and do not let the rice touch the water otherwise it will get mushy and lose its shape.
Pour the rice into cold water and separate all the grains. Wash the rice thoroughly until it is no longer sticky or slimy. Drain thoroughly and spread the rice out on a pan. Put the rice in the sun to dry for 1-2 days using a mosquito net to protect the rice. You can shortcut the process by using your oven. Step 1: put the rice in your oven at 175 degrees for 15 minutes. Step 2: turn the oven off and leave the rice in the oven for thirty minutes. Step 3: turn the rice with a spatula (be careful not to smash the grains). Repeat this process from step 1 until the rice hardens and looks like uncooked rice again.
Heat vegetable oil in a hot pot or wok to 300 degrees. Put the rice in the oil a cup at a time and remove with a strainer as soon as the rice pops up (2-3 seconds). Put the rice on a paper towel to drain. Continue until you’ve fried all the rice. By the way, the real old-school Chinese way is to use hot sand to make the rice pop. Mix the rice, peanuts and ginger together and set aside.
To make the syrup, mix the cornstarch with 1/2 c. of water. Add sugar to the mixture and boil on medium to low heat (about 20 minutes). You can tell when the syrup is done by dipping a chopstick in the syrup and dropping a small drop into cold water. If the drop retains its shape and you can pick it out of the water with your fingers, then it’s ready.
Take the syrup off the heat and combine it with the rice mixture. Work quickly because the syrup hardens fast. Spread a little oil on a 9×13 pan and press the mixture into the pan (be sure to press the corners down). Cool and cut into squares or diamonds and enjoy!
Yield: 9×13 pan
Store in an airtight container.