Rice candy is a type of candy made with a base ingredient of rice, typically in the form of glutinous rice flour or sweet rice flour. Numerous variations on this sweet treat are eaten across Asia, with Japan, Korea, and China all producing traditional rice candies. One of the most popular forms of this candy is Botan Rice Candy in Japan, manufactured by JFC International, Incorporated. This candy is widely distributed beyond the borders of Japan, and it is often available in Asian markets and specialty candy stores.
The ingredients in rice candy vary, depending on the nation of origin. At a minimum, the candy is made with glutinous rice flour, sugar, and water. Colorings and flavorings are often added, and the candy is usually soft and chewy in texture, with a subtle flavor. Many manufacturers go light on the sugar, reflecting a preference for lightly sweetened candies in Asia. The rice itself is also naturally sweet, and too much added sugar will create a cloying flavor.
Many types of rice candy are designed to be eaten fresh as they are made. Other producers slice their candy into small chunks and wrap the chunks in rice paper for packaging and shipping. The rice paper wrapper keeps the candy from getting too moist, and prevents the candies in a package from sticking to each other. It is also edible, although some people are unaware of this, and they may struggle to peel the rice paper wrappers away from the gummy candy.
In addition to Botan Rice Candy, another popular style of rice candy is dragon's beard candy, which is made from pulled sugar which is rolled in rice flour to prevent the sugar strands from sticking together. The candy is typically wrapped around a nut filling such as crushed peanuts. Dragon's beard candy is very popular in China and Korea, where it is often served fresh at markets and fairs.
Most rice candy is safe for vegans and people who are gluten-intolerant, making it a relatively safe treat to have around the house. However, it is a good idea to read the candy's packaging, as each producer uses different ingredients. If you happen to live in an area where this candy is produced, you might want to take a factory tour, as the process of candy making is quite interesting, and the opportunity to taste packaged candy in fresh form can be a real eye-opener.