A steaming bowl of chicken broth is brought to the table. As the server pours crisped rice into the bowl the air is filled with the sound of sizzling and popping. It’s sizzling rice soup, one of my favourite soups at any Chinese restaurant. It is light and full of flavor. The crispy rice adds a fun crunch with each bite.
Have you ever noticed how it’s hard to not have “just on more bite” when you go to a Chinese restaurant? There are many great chefs in those places, crafting amazing dishes but the “need” to have more is often connected to the addition of monosodium glutamate better known as MSG. It’s what makes cheap Chinese taste better than it is and quality food burst with even more flavor.
When I get Chinese food out I have gotten into the habit of ordering it without added MSG, I’ve noticed that the dishes that once had spot-on, beyond tasty flavor suddenly lack salt and that extra bit of flavor that I had come to expect.
The key to dishes that might normally rely on MGS is to create umami. It’s the “5th taste”. Umami when translated from Japanese can mean “delicious” or “pleasant savory taste”. A Japanese man discovered that the flavor that made food taste so good was L-glutamate. He later went on to create a stable form of it that we now know as MSG.
Want to learn more about umami? Kimi of The Nourishing Gourmet wrote an article on it for Mother Nature Network.
How do you create a natural umami flavor in foods like this sizzling rice soup? The key is in rich homemade chicken stock and naturally fermented soy sauce (or tamari) both of which contain L-glutamate or umami. I love that these flavors can easily be crafted in your own kitchen!
Sizzling rice soup is really not that hard to make, the most difficult part is the rice cakes which you can make ahead of time and the give a quick fry before you add them to your hot soup.
If you don’t have the time to fry the rice cakes you can add them to the soup five minutes before removing it from the heat, you’ll be missing the signature sizzle but the slight crunch will still be there. Another thought would be to add leftover rice to the soup five minutes before serving. It won’t be quite as fun but the flavor will still be there.
However you fix the soup it is still going to be delicious, making your tongue and stomach very happy. Now I want another bowl of this sizzling rice soup!
Sizzling Rice Cakes
- 2 cups cold cooked white rice
- 4 cups coconut oil/palm shortening/tallow
- Shape the rice into small flat disks about 2 inches across and 1/4 inch thick.
- Place on a baking sheet.
- Bake at 250 F for 1 hour or until completely dry.
- Heat oil over medium-high heat.
- Break a small piece off of one rice cake. Throw it in the oil. If is puffs up in less than 10 seconds you will know that the oil is hot enough.
- Gently place a rice cake in the oil. Once it puffs remove immediately from the oil. Place on a paper towel or cloth towel to drain.
- Fry only enough rice cakes for the amount of soup that you will be serving.
- Store the remaining rice cakes (if there are any in a glass container) for up to a month. Fry the cakes as needed.
- Add to a hot bowl of soup and listen for the sizzle!
We always order sizzling rice soup. It’s been our favorite for years but now our only close Chinese food restaurant claim they have it on menu but they don’t make the rice cakes, they just put rice in the soup. I was very disappointed. So I’ll try making my own,thank you.
Katie Mae Stanley
That’s a shame! Just putting rice in the soup totally doesn’t count. I hope this hits the spot!
This looks absolutely amazing and so tasty! Thanks
I’ve never come across this before , it sounds like such a fun and tasty soup!
This soup sounds so perfect for winter! Looks so warm and cozy!
This looks fun! I’ve never heard of this soup before – it’s not a Chinese food staple over here. But I’d love to try one of those crispy rice cakes!
Emily @ Recipes to Nourish
I’ve never heard of this soup before, so cool! My husband would LOVE this! I’m going to have to make it for him.
This is very interesting I have never tried anything with sizzling rice cakes before or heard of them! Thanks for sharing, it looks like a very nourishing and tasty soup.
I have never had this in a Chinese restaurant before! I cannot way to try it! I do not handle MSG well at ALL, so I appreciate this version! What fun!
Wow this recipe is a revelation to me. I love it and also its mystery. I have never made anything like those rice cakes. Thanks, too, for the education about L-glutamate and MSG! 🙂
I’ve never heard of sizzling rice soup but sounds so unique and delicious!
This looks not only delicious but fun to make!
Ohhh I’m intrigued! Sounds delish and healthy!
I love this recipe–I think I might try to create a vegetarian version of this! Chinese and Japanese foods are some of my favorites, thanks for sharing!
Katie Mae Stanley
I bet a light vegetable broth would work well!