Crispy rice is just rice that’s packed in a pan, cut then pan fried until golden and ultra crispy. Can’t-stop-eating-them good! Munch on them plain like chips, or use as a base for toppings to make modern Asian-style canapés – like Nobu’s Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice.
Crispy rice cakes
These are the base for the Nobu copy-cat Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice recipe that I also published today. But everyone who’s tried the plain crispy rice cakes declared them so good, they insisted they should be published as a separate recipe. So here it is!
All you really need to make crispy rice cakes is rice, oil for frying and salt for seasoning. However, the rice is tastier if you add sushi rice seasoning which is just sugar and rice vinegar. Especially if you plan to serve these as plain snacks with no toppings.
Sushi rice – Find this type of rice labelled as such alongside other rice at the grocery store. It’s a short grain type of rice that is stickier than other types of rice, so the rice sticks together to make the rice balls for sushi.
For the same reason, it’s the best type of rice to make rice cakes! Other rice types won’t stick together as firmly so the rice cakes won’t cut as neatly or fry up as golden and crispy. Medium grain rice should work nearly as well (because it’s fairly sticky too) but I don’t recommend trying this with long grain rice, brown rice, wild rice or basmati rice.
Rice vinegar – An Asian vinegar made from….wait for it….rice! Smoother and milder than plain white vinegar, this is used to flavour rice to make sushi. As noted above, it can be skipped but it makes the rice cakes tastier.
Sugar – Also for seasoning the rice.
Salt – For sprinkling on the cooked rice cakes. I use 3/4 teaspoon. It will seem like a lot for the amount of rice cakes but they can take it! They are like potato – they take more salt than you think. Also, some salt falls off when you turn them to sprinkle the other side.
How to make crispy rice cakes
You simply cook rice, press in a pan, cool to make it solid, cut, then pan fry until golden. Then munch away!
1. Cook and flavour rice
No need to rinse. Use the right amount of water. And don’t peek! My full rice-making rants here.
Cook rice – Place rice and water in a small pot (no lid) over medium high heat. Once it’s bubbling, put the lid on and turn down to medium low. Cook for 13 minutes or until water is absorbed – no peeking!
Rest for 10 minutes with the lid on.
Sushi rice seasoning – Mix the vinegar and sugar together until the sugar dissolves.
Fluff – Pour seasoning over the hot rice. Fluff with a rice paddle or rubber spatula. The rice will absorb the flavour as it cools in the pan.
2. Press and cut
For really crispy rice cakes, be sure to press the rice in firmly.
Press – Place a sheet of baking/parchment paper on a 20cm/8″ square pan. Scrape the hot rice into the pan and spread evenly. Cover with another piece of paper and press the rice in very firmly, concentrating on the corners and edges. The rice should be around 1.25cm / 1/2″ thick.
Weigh down (recommended) – For best results, place something flat on top then weigh it down with 4 or 5 x 400g/14oz cans. I used a second pan that is the same size.
Weighing down the rice packs the rice together more tightly as it sets in the fridge. This means you can cut neater pieces and they will crisp up better. It’s also just generally really irritating when you get little loose bits of rice in the pan when you’re frying up the rice cakes!
Cool – Fully cool, then refrigerate overnight (minimum 6 hours). As it cools, the rice will stick together and become a solid slab you can lift up and cut.
Speedy option for the impatient: Put the rice in the fridge until it’s fully cool (around 1 hour), then freezer for 1 hour (edges will semi-freeze, centre should be perfect), then back in the fridge for 1 hour (to thaw edges). Warning: Do not let the rice freeze fully, it will become loose and wet when it thaws so not suitable for rice cakes!
Cut – Lift rice out using paper overhang. Wet the knife blade (neater cuts). Cut rice into desired shapes. I do 15 rectangles for the pictured Nobu Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna (5 strips, then each into 3). Smaller and more would make great snacking options, albeit lots of turning in the pan!
Pan fry – Heat about 1/4 cup of the oil in a large non-stick pan over medium high. Place in half the rice cakes – they should sizzle gently. Lower heat to medium. Cook for 4 minutes until really golden and crispy. Turn and cook the other side for 4 minutes.
Salt – Remove onto a paper towels lined plate. Sprinkle each side with salt while hot.
Keep cooking – Add remaining oil and cook remaining rice cakes.
Serve as snack (you won’t be able to stop!) or use as a base for canapés. See the separate recipe for the spicy tuna topping I also shared today which is a blatant Nobu restaurant copy-cat. See next section for more topping suggestions!
How to serve crispy rice cakes
Serve them plain for snacking or add toppings to make irresistible appetisers.
As noted above, I’m sharing this crispy rice cakes recipe as a base for a creamy spicy tuna topping to make a copycat of a signature Nobu restaurant appetiser, Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice (raw or canned). However, given the flavour of the rice cakes is fairly neutral rather than specifically Asian, there’s stacks of topping options! Here’s some ideas that come to mind:
Creamy spicy tuna or salmon – Nobu copycat made with sashimi grade tuna or salmon. Canned tuna option included.
Tuna poke – A no mayo topping option with sashimi tuna in a gingery soy sauce dressing
Kingfish ceviche – YES! I can’t wait to try this. (Chop everything smaller so they stay on the rice cakes or use the rice cakes for scooping)
Salmon mousse – I pipe this on cucumber rounds for a fancy(ish) healthy(ish) canapé. Would be perfect on rice cakes!
I’d love to hear your suggestions! What will you top these with? – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
- 1 cup sushi rice (Note 1)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/3 cup canola oil (vegetable, peanut or other neutral oil)
- 3/4 tsp cooking / kosher salt , for sprinkling rice cakes (Note 2)
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar (Note 3)
- 1 tsp caster sugar (Note 3)
- Cook rice, rest, pour over seasoning, fluff. Press firmly into 20cm/8" lined pan, weigh down. Cool, fridge overnight (min 6 hrs). Cut into 15 rectangles, pan fry 4 min each side, sprinkle with salt.
- Sushi seasoning – Mix together until sugar dissolves.
- Cook rice (Note 4) – Place rice and water in a small pot (no lid) over medium high heat. Once it's bubbling on the edges and the middle is rippling, put the lid on and turn down to medium low (or low for strong stoves). Cook for 13 minutes or until water is absorbed.
- Rest – Remove from heat then rest for 10 minutes with the lid still on.
- Season – Remove lid. Pour over sushi seasoning. Fluff rice with rubber spatula.
Press, cool, cut:
- Press – Place a sheet of baking/parchment paper on a 20cm/8" square pan. Scrape hot rice into the pan and spread evenly. Cover with another piece of paper and press in very firmly.
- Weigh down (recommended, Note 5) – For best results, place something flat on top (2nd same size pan is ideal) then weigh down with 5 x 400g/14oz cans.
- Cool – Fully cool, cover with cling wrap, then refrigerate overnight (min 6 hours). Speedy option: Fridge uncovered until fully cool, cover, freeze 1 hour, fridge 1 hour.
- Cut – Lift rice out using paper overhang. Wet the knife blade (neater cuts). Cut rice into 15 rectangles (5 strips, then each into 3).
- Pan fry – Heat about 1/4 cup of the oil in a large non-stick pan over medium high. Place in half the rice cakes – they should sizzle gently. Lower heat to medium. Cook for 4 minutes until really golden and crispy. Turn and cook the other side for 4 minutes.
- Salt – Remove onto a paper towels lined plate. Sprinkle each side with salt while hot.
- Keep cooking – Add remaining oil and cook remaining rice cakes.
- Serve as snack (you won't be able to stop!) or a base for canapés.
- Topping suggestions – Spicy tuna (Nobu copycat), tuna poke, salmon mousse, crostini toppings.
2. I know this seems like a lot but these can take a lot of salt. Use less if you doubt me then add more later when you realise you need it!
3. Seasonings for sushi rice. They can be skipped but it makes the rice cakes tastier, and in the spirit of crispy sushi rice!
4. Rice cooking – Use a pot ~17cm/7″ wide. Not much larger else the rice doesn’t have enough depth = risk of burning base. No need to rinse the rice if you bought it in packs at the shop, the rice will be fluffy cooking it my way and with the right water/rice ratio. If you insist on rinsing the rice, reduce water by 2 tablespoons (to account for water logged in the rice).
5. Packing the rice in tightly makes the rice cakes firmer so you can cut neat squares, plus they are crispier. Weighing down while cooling is best, but still ok if you just press the rice really tightly with your hands. If you don’t, then they will crumble on the edges when you cut and fry. Not fatal, but annoying – and not quite as crispy.
Life of Dozer
This is his sitting up straight look-how-good-I-am food scavenging position. It’s highly effective!