Why It Works
- Slowly toasting dry sticky rice ensures that the grains cook and color evenly.
- Toasting the grains to a much deeper golden brown than called for in most other recipes produces a toasted-rice powder with a deep nutty flavor and a popcorn-like aroma.
Toasted-rice powder is a common pantry ingredient in Northern Thai and Lao cuisines, made by slowly toasting raw sticky rice to a deep golden brown, then grinding it into a coarse powder using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. It lends a textural element and nutty flavor to dishes like laab, and is also used as a thickening agent in soups and dipping sauces, like jaew.
Making it at home is a breeze, though it does take some patience: This recipe calls for an extra-long toasting process in order to evenly cook the grains of glutinous rice and bring out all of their roasty, popcorn-like aroma.
- 1/2 cup Thai sticky rice (3 1/2 ounces; 100g); see note
Place rice in a 12-inch stainless steel skillet and shake pan to distribute grains into an even layer. Cook over medium heat, shaking skillet frequently to redistribute rice into an even layer, until rice is lightly golden, about 10 minutes. If rice begins to scorch, lower heat to medium-low.
Continue to cook, shaking skillet frequently, until rice is deep golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Remove from heat, transfer rice to a rimmed baking sheet, and let cool to room temperature, 5 to 8 minutes.
Transfer toasted rice to a spice grinder or the bowl of a mortar and pestle. Grind to a coarse powder with a texture similar to that of ground coffee used for pourover brewing. Allow rice powder to cool to room temperature, then store in a dry, airtight container.
Thai sticky rice (also sold as "sweet" and "glutinous" rice) can be found online and at Asian markets; other varieties of sticky short-grain rice, such as sushi and risotto rice, will not work as a substitute here.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Toasted-rice powder can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 months.