Rice flour (also rice powder) is a form of flour made from finely milled rice. It is distinct from rice starch, which is usually produced by steeping rice in lye. Rice flour is a particularly good substitute for wheat flour, which causes irritation in the digestive systems of those who are gluten-intolerant. Rice flour is also used as a thickening agent in recipes that are refrigerated or frozen since it inhibits liquid separation.
Rice flour may be made from either white rice or brown rice. To make the flour, the husk of rice or paddy is removed and raw rice is obtained, which is then ground to flour.
Types of Rice Flour
In Japanese, rice flour is called komeko (米粉) and is available two forms: glutinous and non-glutinous. The glutinous rice is also called sweet rice, but despite these names it is neither sweet nor does it contain gluten; the word glutinous is used to describe the stickiness of the rice when it is cooked. The glutinous variety called mochigomeko (もち米粉, or mochiko for short) is produced from ground cooked glutinous rice (もち米 mochigome) and is used to create mochi or as a thickener for sauces. Another variety called shiratamako (白玉粉) is produced from ground uncooked glutinous rice and is often used to produce confectioneries. The non-glutinous variety called jōshinko (上新粉) is made from short-grain rice and is primarily used for creating confectioneries.
Many dishes are made from rice flour, including rice noodles and desserts like Japanese mochi and Filipino cascaron. Vietnamese banh canh uses rice flour and it is also used in making General Tso’s chicken. In Chinese, it is called mifen (Chinese: 米粉; pinyin: mǐ fěn), galapong in Ilokano/Filipino, and pirinç unu in Turkish.
Rice flour has a presence in South Indian cuisine too. Some of the examples include Dosa, Puttu, Golibaje (Mangalore bajji) and Kori Rotti. It is also mixed with wheat, millet, other cereal flours, and sometimes dried fruits or vegetables to make Manni, a kind of baby food.
It is a regular ingredient in Bangladeshi cuisine, Bengali cuisine and Assamese cuisine. It is used in making roti and desserts such as sandesh and pitha (Rice cakes or pancakes which are sometimes steamed, deep fried or pan fried and served along with grated coconut, sesame seeds, jaggery and chashni). It is also used in making Kheer (a common South Asian dessert).
Making Rice Flour
Making rice flour can help you save money, especially if you or anyone in your family eats a gluten-free diet or suffers from coeliac disease. The gluten in wheat flour can cause indigestion and other undesirable side effects. Since many foods are made with wheat flour, if you have a gluten intolerance you can be limited to what to eat. Opting to learn how to make rice flour with either white or brown rice can enable you to make your favourite “off-limits” foods with rice flour in place of the wheat.
- Purchase brown or white rice, depending on the type of flour you want to make. The more rice you buy at a time, the less expensive the rice flour becomes. If you have a warehouse store in your local area, consider buying the rice in bulk so you can make rice flour in large amounts or in small batches whenever you need it, regardless of quantity. A 10 kg bag should produce enough rice flour to last for several months.
- Purchase a blender or food processor that cracks grains. You need a blender or mixer that works specifically to crack grains; if you have one for wet ingredients, it will not work.
- Fill the container with 1 to 4 cups (240 mL to 960 mL) of rice. If you use more than this amount, you could compromise the quality of the resulting rice flour. If you want to make more than this at one time, do it in multiple batches.
- Mix the rice until the flour consistency is one you like. Mix it gradually until you get it as fine as desired. The finer the grain, the better it will work in baked goods because it will not drastically alter the texture of the final product.
- Use the resulting rice flour in gluten-free recipes. You can also use it to thicken soups, sauces, and gravies. It works as a thickener because it will not allow the liquid to separate from the other ingredients.
Tips for Using Rice Flour
- You can also use a grinder to grind down the rice into flour as long as it is strong enough to crack the grains.
- Using rice flour in a recipe is somewhat different than using wheat flour, because it tends to produce a crumby product. To combat issues with crumby texture or consistency, use 1 part arrowroot to 4 parts rice flour in your recipe. Including more eggs in your recipe is another way to improve the texture.
- Rice flour absorbs more water than wheat, so you may need to add extra liquids to the recipe to produce the correct consistency.
- Although it’s a more-expensive option, a grain mill can help you to make your own rice flour at home if you do not like the way your mixer or blender is producing flour.
- Brown rice is more nutritional than white rice.
Rice Flour Substitutes
- cake flour (especially if the rice flour is intended to soften the texture of a baked good)
- barley flour (also delivers a softer texture to baked goods)
- pastry flour (also delivers a softer texture to baked goods)
- spelt flour (makes baked goods heavier)
- potato flour
- millet flour