Rice flour has been used historically in baby foods and a few inter-generational favorites, such as Rice Krispies™. It is milder, lighter and easier to digest than wheat flour and is a great substitute for people who are gluten intolerant.
A staple in India, Japan, Southeast Asia and Thailand, rice flour is mainly used for making noodles, desserts and sweets. It is also an excellent thickener for sauces, custards and gravies.
In the 1980s, the Western world discovered the value of rice flour and the usage in new applications began growing dramatically. Barley, spelt, potato and millet flours have also become popular, each with their unique advantages. However, this flour seems to be less intrusive to the taste and easier on the digestion, while maintaining compatibility with wheat flour recipes.
Manufacturers incorporate rice flour in cereals, chips, crackers and snacks. Cooks and chefs also discovered the lightness of the quality of their creations when replacing wheat flour with rice. Using it as a coating batter has become the key to many chicken, fish and vegetable signature dishes.
Several varieties of rices are used to accomplish specific textures and densities in traditional recipes. Long grain rice is the standard for flour. Panko dishes have been reinvented using this new trend. The batter can be prepared in a variety of densities, depending on the type of flour used, then deep-fried, sauteed or baked.
Medium grain rice flour can be used in recipes requiring a lighter texture or puffier expansion than standard flour. It works better when using as a thickener. The lightest textured flour comes from waxy rice. This refined choice also has greater expansion when puffed. It remains stable when frozen and is an excellent replacement for cornstarch.
Mochi is a famous Japanese favorite made from mochiko, which is finely milled rice flour. It uses short-grained, sweet, glutinous rice. It is very high in starch and makes excellent rice cakes. Favorite dishes from India made with it include idli, neer dosa and the delicious gulab jamin.
Rice flour continues to be prepared traditionally, regardless of the final application. The husk is removed, and then the raw rice is ground into a fine powder. Though it is more refined, the quantity used in recipes remains consistent with other flours.