Rice flour is made from ground raw rice (glutinous or non-glutinous). It can be purchased in its ground form, or ground domestically using a blender, grain mills or traditional pounding methods. Rice flour is commonly used in countries where rice is the staple food to make other food products. In other countries, it can be used as a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour. Domestically, it can be used in cooking for many purposes. But the following rice-flour products are also manufactured on a large scale. Wet milling is generally used in the making of these products, resulting in the loss of water-soluble nutrients.
Rice noodles: Flat rice noodles and extruded round noodles are made from wet-milled rice flour. These are eaten with side dishes or in soups.
Egg-roll wrappers and edible rice paper: These are made from wet-milled high-amylose rice batter in East and South East Asia. Edible rice paper is translucent (thinner than egg-roll wrapper) and is used as edible candy wrappers.
Rice-flour cakes and dumplings: Across Asia, a wide range of sweet and savoury rice-flour-based cakes and dumplings are generally available for purchase as snack-foods from traditional markets, supermarkets, and road-side stalls. Glutinous rice (also known as sticky rice or waxy rice) flour is commonly used to make many of these products, including Japanese mochi and Indonesian layered rice cakes (kue lapis), which require a stickier texture.
Liquid rice-based products
Rice bran oil: Oil can be extracted from the rice bran and rice germ, and this is generally known as rice bran oil. Rice bran oil is high in vitamin E, other antioxidants and various plant sterols. It is believed to have many health benefits. Rice bran oil is used for cooking as well as in salad dressings. It is known to have a very high smoke point (over 200C/400F), so that it can be used for all kinds of cooking methods, including those requiring very high heat such as deep frying. It is free of trans fats. Rice bran and germ oil is also used as a nutritional supplement (e.g. in the form of capsules). Rice bran forms 5–8% of grain weight, and is also used for flours, concentrates, and dietary fiber, as well as for other non-human-food purposes. The main producers are rice bran oil are India, Japan and China (including Taiwan).
Rice-based alcoholic beverages: Alcoholic beverages made from rice are found throughout the rice-producing world. The most common is a rice beer produced by boiling husked rice, inoculating the mix with a bit of yeast cake, and allowing the mixture to ferment for a short period. The mash left at the bottom of the container is often prized. Among the Ifugao of the Philippines, the mash is frequently reserved for the village priest. Among the Kachins of Myanmar, it is the first food offered to a recently captured and hungry wild elephant. Kachins believe that the elephant will be loyal forever to the person who first provides such a meal. Sake is widely consumed in Japan, as is wang-tsiu in China. These rice-based wine-like beverages are served warm and featured at ceremonial feasts.
Rice vinegar: Rice vinegar is a traditional product from China and Japan. It can range from clear or pale yellow to shades of red, brown and black. It has 4–5% total acidity.
Rice syrup: Rice syrup is an alternative sweetener, made from cooked brown rice and enzymes, which break down the starch.
Rice-based convenience foods
Puffed rice: Puffed (or popped) rice is made by heating rice grains under high pressure in the presence of steam. ‘Rice Krispies’ are one type of popular breakfast cereal made from puffed rice, and puffed rice cakes are a common snack food.
Rice crackers: Many kinds of rice crackers are produced across Asia including Japan (often combined with seaweed) and Indonesia (krupuk beras). Fermented rice food products: These include Japanese miso (brown seasoning paste mainly used in soup), Latin American ‘Sierra rice’ (arroz fermentado), and angkak (red fermented rice or ‘yeast rice’, commonly used as a food-coloring agent). Fermented rice is also eaten in many parts of Asia as a snack or a treat, including in China (lao-chao), India (bhattejaanr), Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei (commonly known as tapai in South East Asia).
Canned rice products and quick-cooking packaged rice: Sweet and savoury canned rice products are found in many countries. Various types of quick,cooking or ‘instant’ rice meals or side-dishes, prepared and packaged in different ways, are also available internationally. Instant rice differs from parboiled rice in that it is milled, fully cooked and then dried. There is a significant degradation in taste and texture.
Rice starch: Rice starch is used as a thickening agent in food preparation, including infant formula. The granular size of rice starch is relatively small.
Wild rice stems: The stems of wild rice are commonly used as a vegetable in China, and other parts of Asia.