Chutney Rice Cake FAIL

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks: I’ve been working 12 – 15 hour days, I made a last-minute, whirlwind trip to Toronto for business, I caught a cold after a 9-hour airport odyssey trying to get home from Toronto; let’s just say that I haven’t had a lot of time to cook, and even less time to blog about it. Tai has been a trooper though: in order to prevent us living solely on popcorn and orange juice, he made a batch of granola, a lasagna, and a big batch of my chicken soup.

Even though Tai is a trained pastry chef, certain things still trip him up in the kitchen, especially when it comes to savory cooking. He has a hard time with a lot of my recipes, because we rarely have all of the ingredients on hand for any one particular recipe, and I tend to make substitutions on the fly. Also basic savory steps that I may not specify clearly will elude him: the latest being that 3 cups of uncooked rice = way more than 3 cups of cooked rice. Go figure. So, we have a lot of rice in the fridge. Really a lot. But I shouldn’t tease Tai about his kitchen prowess because, as today’s recipe will show, I’m hardly immune to my own kitchen missteps.

It goes like this: I wanted to do something with the (really a lot of) rice in the fridge. I haven’t posted in over a week, so I wanted to make something fairly quick, fairly easy, but interesting enough to warrant a blog post. And quick enough to be photographed in the waning daylight. While I was peering into the recesses of the fridge, searching for inspiration, I spied a half-empty jar of apple chutney on the shelf and got intrigued by the idea of a use it or lose it post on combining chutney, or a savory jam, with cooked rice to make fried rice cakes. So, I promptly went to work: a little rice, a little chutney, some spices, some panko. Two dirty frying pans, three smeared cutters, some cheddar cheese, a dirty box grater, several spatulas, tongs, half a dozen plates and one seriously oil-spattered stove later, I had… a few greasy mounds of fried rice-and-chutney, with some blackened panko bits for festive crunch and flavor. Huzzah!

You know, whenever I have leftover risotto, I make risotto cakes: form ’em into a patty, dip in a little panko, and hey, presto! you’ve got an attractively presented, delicious starch component and an answer to the rather glutinous texture of day-old risotto. I guess what I underestimated was the lack of glutinous texture in days-old cooked rice: this recipe really needed some additional binder. Flour, egg, cream cheese, cornstarch – something. I kept tweaking, and my rice “cakes” kept falling to pieces as soon as I tried to flip them in the frying pan, let alone get them intact onto a plate. In desperation, I cooked the last one in a metal cutter; whereupon not enough of the panko was able to reach the oil and I ended up with a warm, moist, not-crunchy-at-all rice mound in a vaguely cake-like shape. Not bad tasting (there’s nothing really bad about brown rice + chutney + fried panko bits) but, on the presentation front, a total FAIL.

Tune in later this week for Kitchen Disasters Averted: Kaela Gets Her Mojo Back.

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Chutney Rice Cakes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup cooked rice (the stickier the better; I used a short grain brown rice that was definitely not sticky enough)
  • 1/4 cup chutney or savory jam
  • 2 tbsp packed shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • about 1/2 cup grapeseed oil, or other vegetable oil

METHODS

  1. Mix the rice, chutney, cheese and spices together in a small bowl until well blended.
  2. Arrange three clean plates: sprinkle a thick layer of panko breadcrumbs on one plate; layer a couple of paper towels on another plate, for draining fried rice cakes; the third will be used for holding prepared rice cakes before cooking.
  3. Using your hands, or a 2-inch round cutter, form rice mixture into a round patty; dip each side firmly into panko, once or twice, to coat generously. Remove to the clean plate.
  4. Heat oil in a small frying pan until hot but not smoking. Carefully transfer the rice cake to the hot oil (turn the heat down if the oil spatters excessively). You may wish to cook the rice cake in a metal cutter/mold in order to help it hold together (if so, I suggest unmolding directly on your serving plate after a tap or two on paper towels to soak up excess oil). Fry for about 2 minutes per side, until the panko is nicely browned and the rice cake warmed through. Remove from frying pan and transfer to the paper-towel lined plate to drain.
  5. Serve warm, garnished with parsley to distract from the sagging, un-cake-like presentation.

Yields about 5, 2-inch rice cakes mounds.

OPTIONS

  1. Risotto cakes: there’s an option. They are quite delicious – and they hold together. Wacky!
  2. Clearly my rice cakes needed more binder: additional cheese, stickier rice, egg white, maybe a little pastry flour or cornstarch, any of these might be a good idea to help the cakes hold together.
  3. Chilling the rice/chutney mixture for about an hour, in the molds, might have helped. Then again, it might not.

STORE

They’ll fall apart almost instantly, if you can even get them out of the frying pan intact. So just toss the rice/chutney/panko mixture in bowl and pop it in the fridge. It will still be tasty reheated in the microwave.

SEASON

The winter of our discontent.

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