I made a cup of rice in the rice cooker a few nights back and forgot about it. Overnight! As in, I didn't eat any of it and it wasn't until the next morning that I remembered I'd put rice in the cooker. I started the rice, then planned to cook up some veggies when I got back from running errands. I became so violently hangry, though, that I picked up take-out on my way home, reasoning that I could save the rice to make more of these black sesame and wild rice crackers. Then promptly settled in for the night, neglecting the rice.
Which meant I woke up to a sad cold bowl of day-old rice that soon became three-day-old rice when I refused to deal with it until about an hour ago. And no crackers.
In related news, I'm almost done writing my dissertation! Let's not count the chickens before they hatch, but here's to say the fermenting rice and my data analyses are directly proportional to one another. You'll know I'm not making progress when the house is spotless and the laundry's folded. Until then, the sitting rice, my sauce-splattered floors, and the clean clothing Mount Everest installation on my couch are simply symbols of my increased writing productivity.
The day after Alanna and I stayed up until 3am editing our video after a full-day of pasta-making, Phi popped over for a cracker fest - a weekend-long ode to our Alternative Flours Feastly meal collaboration back in February.
As someone who can find inspiration in any ingredient, taking Phi to the market can easily mean you're coming home with lettuce stems, even when you don't let her bring her wallet inside. And she'll turn it into a feast for three. A quirky combination of impulse and creativity ooze out of this girl. Even a spur-of-the-moment in-and-out trip for a bag of wild rice can send you home with a ginger root the size of her head.
This was also the request she had when I started the cracker recipe trials: "Crackers the size of my head, please." We spent the better part of the afternoon of our Feastly rolling out 60+ enormous crackers even though we only planned to serve one to each of our 14 guests as a delicate plate under a mizuna, pomelo, and quail egg salad. The rest were partly to account for any broken crackers, but mostly because we couldn't stop snacking them straight from the oven.
Phi took the spent miso brine from our misozuke daikon pickles and repurposed it as a dip appetizer, and the rest of the crackers disappeared in less time than they took to prepare. For our Sunday cracker fest, we tested the recipe using two different types of rice that produced two drastically different colored crackers. Blind taste-testers couldn't tell them apart though, so I say go with your heart.
This cracker takes inspiration from the senbei crackers we had in Japan, but with the white rice swapped out for wild rice, a bit of sesame oil and sesame seeds folded in, and rolled out paper-thin. The result is a delicately thin, ultra-crispy cracker that's just a little bit toasty. Or, as Alanna puts it, "deep fried angel wings."
That about sums it up. Whether rolled out the size of Phi's head or just the size of silver dollar, slathered with ginger miso dip or topped with cheese - I want to eat these thin crispy crackers as the only cracker for the rest of my life.
You can find the recipe for another dish from the meal - chestnut flour pasta ravioli here, plus more tales and photos of the day.
- ⅓ cup cooked mixed wild rice (*See note)
- 1 cup (132 g) sweet rice flour (also called mochiko - different from "white rice flour" or "brown rice flour")
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt, plus more for sprinkling
- ¼ cup water, plus more as needed
- 1½ tablespoons white sesame seeds
- 1½ tablespoons black sesame seeds
- Preheat the oven to 375°F with a pizza stone (or dark baking sheet) inside.
- Process the cooked wild rice in the bowl of a food processor or a blender until smooth. The rice will become a sticky mess - don't worry! Add the sweet rice flour, sesame oil, and salt, and process to combine.
- While processing, slowly add the water until it forms a dough. If it doesn't yet form a dough in the food processor, add ¼ teaspoon more water at a time until it forms a ball while spinning. The dough should form a glossy ball but should not be too sticky. If it is too sticky, just add a tiny bit more sweet rice flour.
- Remove the dough from the food processor and knead the sesame seeds into the dough.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes.
- For larger crackers, cut parchment paper into squares just larger than the desired size of the cracker (ours were about 4-inches by 4-inches).
- Grab about 1½ teaspoons of dough and gently press it between two pieces of parchment paper. Use a rolling pin to roll it until it is super thin, about the thickness of 5 sheets of paper and about 4-5-inches in diameter. Peel off the top piece of parchment paper and set aside while you roll out more crackers. Repeat with the remaining dough. (Note, I roll out as many fit on my pizza stone - six - then get those baking while I roll out more to save time).
- Working in batches, place as many crackers that will fit with their parchment paper onto the heated pizza stone and bake for 4-6 minutes, until the crackers begin to get crispy and curl up at the edges.
- Use tongs to carefully pull each cracker from the pizza stone and set them on the counter to cool for a moment. Gently peel off the parchment paper from the crackers, and return them to the oven on the reverse side to cook for another 4-6 minutes, or until crispy. Remove crackers from the oven and let cool before eating. Repeat with remaining dough.
- You can also make small crackers using just a single sheet of parchment paper and a ¼ - ½ teaspoon of dough at a time. The process is the exact same, except they'll be only about 1½ -inches wide.
Tip for cooking the rice: To ensure proper cooking with the rice to liquid ratios, use at least 1 cup of dry rice. Every brand of wild rice requires a different amount of water, but here we prepared two different doughs:
Purple cracker - 1 cup whole grain black pearl heirloom rice and 1¾ cups water.
Light cracker - 1 cup mixed wild black rice and brown rice with 2 cups of water
You can even use all brown rice or even white rice if that's what you've got on hand. No matter what you use, you just want to make sure the rice is fully cooked. Save any remaining rice for lunch or dinner:)
Tips for rolling out crackers: Make sure your parchment paper doesn't crease or your crackers will end up with creases in them that might split when you pull the paper off. If you find the crackers get thin splits in them, just put the top parchment paper back on and rub over the split until it closes up.
Adapted from Viet World Kitchen