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Trends show that both in the restaurant and at home, chefs are increasingly using rice flour to fry foods. Frying doesn’t have to involve a thick, heavy batter that creates a greasy, bready crust. Substituting rice flour for wheat flour in practically any fried food is a refreshing alternative that is weightless, crispy, and tender.
Though it’s been recently popularized in the U.S., the technique of frying rice flour is universal. In Asia, it’s used in everything from Japanese tempura vegetables to Korean fried chicken, lending Asian fried foods their characteristic pillowy crunch.
It also has a strong presence in Italian cooking, where chefs use finely-ground arborio rice to make such classic dishes as Tuscan-style fried chicken, calamari fritti, and the region’s signature breaded zucchini, thinly sliced and sautéed in olive oil.
With the increasing need for gluten-free foods, rice flour can be a great choice. However, it’s important to understand that some foods may lack some nutritional value. Frying with rice flour is also a perfect alternative for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance who still want to occasionally enjoy a good plate of chicken wings. Rice flour is a handy ingredient that’s used in a variety of gluten-free recipes.
If you’d like to make your soups, sauces, or gravies thicker, try adding a spoonful of this ingredient to your dish. For a gluten-free take on desserts and pastries, try adding rice flour to your recipes instead of all-purpose or wheat alternatives. You can also create a gluten-free base for more savory dishes, using a rice flour-based roux.
Rice flour has a distinct creamy white color and a mild taste. It can be used in frying, baking, and thickening sauces too. Brown rice flour and white rice flour can be used interchangeably. Both work the same way so it all depends on your preference.
However, you should know that white rice flour has a mild flavor while brown rice flour has a nutty flavor. The two also have different textures. White rice flour has a light texture while brown rice flour has a dense texture. Always keep this in mind when using them interchangeably.
We all know that rice flour works quite well when used to thicken sauces. It has a mild flavor and therefore does not interfere with the flavor. With rice flour, all you need to do is sprinkle the flour in your dish, mix it up and you are good to go. The results are also instant.
Rice flour is a common baking ingredient. A lot of people like it because of its gluten-free property.
A lot of people like using rice flour as a coating for frying because it does not absorb too much oil. Therefore, your end product will not have too many calories. Rice flour does not bind as well as the wheat flour and allows the trapped steam to vent out to make a crisper coating.
Rice flour is a great substitute for wheat flour since most wheat flour contains gluten — a protein that can irritate the digestive system or worse for anyone who is gluten intolerant. Rice flour is a popular thickening agent because it can prevent liquid separation.
It works great in soups, sauces, and gravies and is often used to make crackers, cakes, and dumplings. The combination of rice starch and rice flour gives you that thin, light, and crispy coating on the food.
Even many of your favorite fast-food French fries – yes, the perfect, golden, crispy fries you know and love so well – are dusted with rice flour before frying to give them that characteristic, satisfying crunch. Burger King, Jack in the Box, and Carl’s Jr. /Hardees all use rice flour on their French fries.
The benefits of frying with rice flour aren’t all aesthetic; it’s healthier, too.
CHEF’S RECOMMENDATION ON RICE FLOUR IN COOKING
“Rice flour absorbs less oil than other flours while frying, resulting in fewer calories from fat and a less oily product,”
Says Mike Manno, research and development chef at CSSI, a foodservice agency.
Frying with rice flour is also a perfect alternative for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance who still want to occasionally enjoy a good plate of chicken wings – which happens to be Manno’s favorite way to utilize the unique properties of rice flour.
If you’re frying with rice flour at home, Manno recommends you use smaller pieces of meat and vegetables, since rice flour is finely ground and browns faster than wheat flour. And you don’t always have to make a tough choice when frying, either. “A lot of chefs tend to blend traditional wheat or cornstarch batters with rice flour these days,” says Manno. “Not only does it lighten the batter up, but it also reduces some of that gumminess you get with wheat.”
In a study conducted by the Southern Regional Research Center, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Research Service, chicken drumsticks fried in rice flour absorbed up to 62 percent less oil than those fried in traditional breading flour.
Rice flour generally has a mild flavor so do not use a substitute that will change the flavor of your dish.