Rice flour, a gluten-free product that produces many of the same results as wheat flour, possesses its own distinct characteristics. Often used as a thickening agent in cooking, rice flour is also suitable for making crackers, cakes and dumplings. The silky smooth texture and bright white color of rice flour set it apart from other flours. Rice flour is widely available in Asian markets and natural food stores, or you can make your own with the help of a coffee grinder.
Rice Flour for Thickening
Rice flour works in the same manner as wheat flour for thickening soups, sauces and gravies. To thicken a dish, create a roux from oil, onion and rice flour as a base before adding your liquid and simmering it. You can also use it at the end of a preparation by making a slurry. Add 1 part rice flour to 4 parts water, and mix thoroughly until it's smooth, with no clumps. Add 1 cup of liquid from your sauce or soup and mix well before adding the mixture back to the pot and stirring.
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Rice Flour for Dumplings
Rice flour is commonly used in Asia to create dumplings filled with both sweet and savory mixtures. To make a dough, mix rice flour, water and sometimes baking powder and sugar together to create a ball. After resting, roll out the dough into a long piece and divide it into the specified number of pieces. Flatten the balls, fill them with marinated pork, mixed vegetables or sweet bean paste. Seal the dumplings by bringing the sides together and pressing the edges together. Flip the dumplings over and steam in a paper-lined steamer for about 10 minutes or until cooked through.
Rice Flour in Baking
Rice flour is a suitable substitute in baking cakes, muffins and other sweet products, but it's most commonly substituted in sweet breads, since it has no gluten, a necessary ingredient for firm wheat bread. It works well in lighter muffins and cakes and is often combined with other non-wheat flours to achieve the desired consistency. For the best results when using rice flour in baking, use a recipe formulated specifically for rice flour as it is not an equal swap for regular flour in most cases.
Rice Flour for Frying
Rice flour makes fried dishes accessible for people with gluten allergies. It produces a nicely browned coating on fried foods. Make a batter using rice flour and water or simply coat smaller pieces of meat in the dry flour after seasoning; fry until the flour is crisp and the meat is cooked through.