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Rice Cakes with Spicy Dipping Sauce

Rice cakes are a classic Thai appetizer. They are easy to make and can be kept in an airtight box almost indefinitely.

ingredients

serves 4 - 6
175 g (6 oz) 1 cup jasmine rice
350 ml (12 fl oz) 1 1/2 cups water
oil for frying and greasing

for the spicy dipping sauce

6 - 8 dried chillies
2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) salt
2 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 coriander roots
10 white peppercorns
250 ml (8 fl oz) 1 cup coconut milk
5 ml (1 tsp) shrimp paste
115 g (4 oz) minced pork
115 g (4 oz) cherry tomatoes, chopped
15 ml (1 tbsp) fish sauce
15 ml (1 tbsp) palm sugar
30 ml (2 tbsp) tamarind juice
30 ml (2 tbsp) coarsely chopped roasted peanuts
2 spring onions, finely chopped

method

1. Stem the chillies and remove most of the seeds. Soak the chillies in warm water for 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a mortar.

2. Add the salt and grind with a pestle until the chillies are crushed. Add the shallots, garlic, coriander roots and peppercorns. Pound together until you have a coarse paste.

3. Pour the coconut milk into a saucepan and boil until it begins to separate. Add the pounded chilli paste. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes until it is fragrant. Stir in the shrimp paste. Cook for another minute.

4. Add the pork, stirring to break up I any lumps. Cook for about 5 - 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, fish sauce, palm sugar and tamarind juice. Simmer until the sauce thickens.

5. Stir in the chopped peanuts and spring onions. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

6. Wash the rice in several changes of water. Put in a saucepan, add the water and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 15 minutes.

7. Remove the lid and fluff up the rice. Turn out on to a lightly greased tray and press down with the back of a large spoon. Leave to dry out overnight in a very low oven until it is completely dry and firm.

8. Remove the rice from the tray and break into bite-size pieces. Heat the oil in a wok or deep-fat fryer.

9. Deep fry the rice cakes in batches for about 1 minute, until they puff up, taking care not to brown them too much. Remove and drain. Serve accompanied with the dipping sauce.

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