1

I like to cook rice gruel every now and then; however I usually encounter a basic problem.

First off, my rough procedure:

  1. Mix (sticky) rice flour and water homogeneously
  2. Pour into cooking pot (possibly hot, doesn't seem to make much of a difference)
  3. Stir thouroughly during cooking, try not to go too high with the temperature so nothing burns.

What I have observed:

At a certain rice-water ratio, i.e. if I favor rice strong enough in the mixture, my gruel will very quickly turn into a blob of quite viscous mass, that has the undesirable property of not cooking evenly, so that I'm left raw patches of dough.

I have tried stirring the blob for a long time, but I'm not even sure of whether to use higher heat levels or lower ones; the predicament seems to be

  • Too much heat leads to burning (if not the blob, then the layer sticking to the bottom; too much burning there and everything tastes burnt)
  • Too little heat: Not enough heat dissipates into the inner parts of the blob.

I'm not yet sure how to avoid this in the best way; does anybody have a good general procedure?

Oh yeah, my specs:

  • Glass-top stove
  • Stainless steel pot
  • Lotsa love
  • 1. It would be helpful to know what kind of rice porridge you want to make. Congee? – Nat Bowman Jun 7 '17 at 19:25
  • @NatBowman To describe it shortly: I don't want thick soup, I want something thicker, cooked with rice flour... also, according to the Wikipedia article for 'gruel', "Rice gruels eaten throughout Europe are normally referred to as congee from the Tamil word for the food.", and the Wikipedia site for 'congee' says congees are a type of gruel. So, I'm not sure how you make the distinction...? – polynomial_donut Jun 7 '17 at 19:33
  • 5
    @polynomial_donut - when I've had congee, it was not rice-flour-based but whole grain rice with extra water cooked down until a thick, starchy gruel. That is going to make a difference - whole grain rice won't easily pull together into a dough the way rice flour will. Though maybe some use rice flour to thicken their congee. Maybe look at cream of rice preparation, though I think it's usually more coarsely ground than rice flour – Megha Jun 8 '17 at 11:10
  • @Megha It actually works remarkably well with any white rice grains :) really nice for when one is sick/needs something easy to digest – polynomial_donut Jun 10 '17 at 8:23
2

So, if you'd still rather make your rice-flour gruel work instead of using whole or coarsely ground rice, I have a couple suggestions that may help.

First, you note this blobbing up happens at a certain ratio of rice flour to water. Use less rice flour (or more water) to keep the mix fluid. The rice will thicken as its being cooked, so have the extra water already there so it doesn't thicken too much. If it's still too liquid after it's cooked, you can cook it thicker (via evaporation) until it's the right texture, which is slow but easier than trying to thin down the blob once formed. With time, you can figure out the best ratio and cooking time for what you want.

Second, you mention part of the problem is that the rice flour doesn't cook evenly when blobbed up - you may be able to pre-cook the rice flour, say by lightly toasting in a pan. This may also impart some color and a bit of flavor, as toasting usually does, though if you don't want it this may be minimized by using low and gentle heat. The idea is, once the flour has been toasted, it will not taste raw even if some parts of the gruel don't heat up as much.

Third, you might try a different order of preparation - maybe boiling the water first, then slowly adding the rice flour in. That would mean the water the flour comes in contact with is hot enough it should get the flour to cook even if it blobs up. Also, you can stop adding flour if it starts to pull away at the edges, and add a bit more water to smooth it down.

Finally, even if it turns into a blob, you can add water in to get it back to a manageable texture (slowly, transitioning slowly will usually prevent lumps). Go slowly and keep stirring, and it should loosen up from a thick blob to a thick paste, and then into a thinner paste, then into the more liquid stages. Lumps happen when mixing very thick or dry to very liquid, going through the paste stages usually prevent them.

And lastly, if you want the firmer texture which happens when it pulls together, you can pull the pan off the heat once it's a dough, split up into smaller knobs, and cook like that - maybe boiling like dumplings, pan-toasting, baking, steaming, whatever. These methods will let it cook even when solid. This would be very similar to making mochi, as Jude mentioned, so looking at those recipes may help.

  • Great ideas.. I tried toasting already, and I guess it works, but as you mentioned, one doesn't necessarily want the extra flavor every time. I think toasting or thinning down or both are probably the way to go... I'll probably try thinning it down next, although that would defeat one of the main reasons why I went for rice flour - short preparation time X) – polynomial_donut Jun 10 '17 at 8:20
  • @polynomial_donut - The extended cooking time may only happen a couple times before you work out a good ratio or texture that will thicken enough, and not too much. Though starting from boiling water may be quicker... but adding the flour gradually may also be annoyingly finicky, so it goes. – Megha Jun 10 '17 at 8:36
3

Rice gruel or congee is made with whole grain rice like Megha said. Chinese congee has already cooked rice added to a meat broth and cooked long enough so the grains start breaking apart and becomes thickened.

If you attempt to cook glutinous (sticky) rice flour with water, you're making something more like mochi, although the traditional way is to pound cooked rice into mochi. Most home recipes for mochi use the microwave to cook the rice flour and water. If you want rice gruel, I'd advise you to use cooked rice. It's how I do it.

  • It doesn't seem like you know what you are talking about... Mochi is much much thicker than anything close to gruel. Congee is also definetely not made with whole grain rice exclusively, and does not call for only one specific kind of rice. I grew up on Korean food and know enough about that... – polynomial_donut Jun 10 '17 at 8:15
  • I won't respond in a rude manner like your comment was. First, I didn't say you would be making mochi but that cooking rice flour and water is "something more like mochi. It depends on what the ratios you use are. Second, I didn't say congee called for just one type of rice. In fact, I didn't mention any particular kind. Personally, I prefer using a short grain (more sticky) rice than long grain but most Chinese people I know prefer long grain rice for congee. Congee is Chinese rice porridge and both at other people's homes and in restaurants, I've only had congee made from whole rice. – Jude Jun 12 '17 at 4:12
  • 1
    I don't get offended easily - honestly. Ask friends and family. When you wrote "like you know what you're talking about", I thought you were rudely dismissing me. If you didn't mean to sound rude then I won't think that of you. I wrote from my perspective and experiences with Chinese people and food (for 50 years). Have a Korean couple as friends and their juk is made with whole brown rice. I really never thought anyone used anything else! Love back to you from Canada. – Jude Jun 12 '17 at 19:20
  • 1
    :) White rice Jjuk - either glutinous or not - is great; especially for sick people due to being easy on digestion and supplying lots of water. Thank you! – polynomial_donut Jun 12 '17 at 20:06
  • 1
    I have IBS (not IBD) and short grain white rice congee made with homemade pork broth, white snow fungus and a little added garlic and ginger is my number one comfort food, summer or winter! I'll make a huge pot of it and freeze batches so I can have it whenever I want it. Rice is friendlier to my stomach than any other food. Good thing I love it and never tire of of it! – Jude Jun 12 '17 at 20:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.