POPPED rice or puffed rice? I really do not know what the right term is for this delightfully sweet and crunchy rice snack, but my new caregiving and housekeeping assistant Jing Molis introduced me to it recently. Being a food writer and columnist and cookbook author and editor, I am always curious about food stuff, especially those I am not familiar with. So, one day, while we were eating and engaging in small talk about leftover rice, Jing mentioned about her favorite tummy filler when she was young. She also made some good money selling it in school whenever she did not have baon in her pocket.
Popped rice. Or puffed rice. Whatever. But it is basically leftover rice, better known as bahaw in Filipino, that is sun-dried until completely dry. Then it is fried in hot oil, batch by batch, until puffed or popped and light golden in color. The rice kernels are then removed from the hot oil and allowed to cool down and have the excess oil drained off on a paper towel, brown sugar is cooked in oil until caramelized. The rice is mixed in, drained off, and left to cool. It is then scooped into paper cones and popped into the mouth.
Depending on the quality of the leftover rice and the way it has been dried, the popped rice should be smooth to the bite—and the crunch will definitely be there.
2 cups leftover cooked rice
cooking oil for deep-frying
3/4 cup brown sugar
1. Spread out leftover cooked rice on a bilao. Sun-dry until completely dry, which usually takes two days.
2. When ready to cook, heat oil in pan. When very hot, start deep-frying the dried rice kernels. Test if oil is ready by dropping a few rice kernels. Once they pop or puff up, drop the rest of the rice kernels in manageable batches. Cook until puffed up, then remove from oil and drain off excess oil on paper towels.
3. Drop brown sugar into the pan. Cook in oil until caramelized. Drop in the puffed rice and mix to coat completely. Remove from oil and transfer to a bowl. You can leave the puffed rice as is then scoop into paper cones when cool or shape them into balls while still basically hot to make them stick together.