Thursday, October 25, 2012

Orxata, Horchata, Sweetened Ricemilk from Mexico

Orxata, now commonly spelled "horchata" (say "or-chata") is a traditional sweetened ricemilk from Mexico. Here in Houston, we've been buying it at some of the kiosk shops in Fiesta stores. Lots of Mexican restaurants sell it, too. My old favorite taqueria, Tepatitlan 2000 on N. Main, sells it but don't buy it there- their version is without a doubt the worst we've ever tasted; it had the cheapest, worst ingredients. They had to have been using artificially-flavored cinnamon candy or syrup, the really shitty, cheap kind. So, here's the recipe:

- 1 cup of rice
- about or less than 1 cup of sweetener
- about or less than 1 cup of milk product
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 cups of hot water & 2 cups of cold
- about or less than 1tsp vanilla
- about or less than 1 cup nuts or seeds

~-~  note: this is a "to taste" kind of recipe, experiment with the ratios ~-~

CHOP: A few handfuls of cashews (makes a creamy texture), almonds, or other nuts or seeds. Mexicans sometimes use Morro seeds (a kind of melon). Pecans or macademia nuts should also add a creamy texture and their own flavor. 

ADD: to the blender with the nuts about a cup of sugar. White is traditional but we used brown sugar, half a cup 1st, then 3/4s a cup. You can add cacao or cocoa here if you want, too- we used half a cup of powdered cacao. Set this aside in a jar, sealed- you'll use it tomorrow. 

ROUGH CHOP: 1 cup of rice. White rice is traditional but we used brown rice. And it's just fine!

MIX: the rice with 3 cups of hot water, drop a cinnamon stick in there, and pop it in the fridge to... 

STEEP: for 12 hours. 
And these two in this order makes clean-up a bit simpler...

COOKED RICE VARIATION: With 1 cup of cooked rice (and the deeper I dig into this, the more I see folks using brown rice) to 4 cups of cold water. After trying it out and asking a few Mexicans familiar with making their own, I'm disinclined to go through this step.

After steeping the rice and cinnamon overnight, it's time to 
STRAIN and MIX: with the sugar/nut stuff + 2 cups cold water and the vanilla. Now's also the time to mix in the milk products. We've experimented with yogurt and goat's milk. Any other kind works- sweetened & condensed, almond, sheep, hemp, plain old moo juice, hell, even buttermilk- whatever you like.

EXPERIMENTAL: Since this is a cinnamon and vanilla-flavored drink, it seems like some of Cinnamon's good friends fit in here, like white pepper, clove, cardamom, and nutmeg, so rocked a batch with these extra. We boiles the cardamom and clove whole in a bit of the strained mix and then mixed it back in- yum! 

I'm trying to find out if this was once fermented, like so many traditional dishes and drinks that are no longer. I can't see why it wasn't at some point- anything that we set out to steep for a while was once commonly, or at least sometimes, fermented. In Japan, Koji, a controlled-mold product, led to Tempeh, a fermented rice product. Down this path, miso, soy sauce, sake, pickles, and amazake are formed. Amazake is a sweet rice porridge, seems like a close relative to a fermented ricemilk, eh? More on this, later...,mod=11&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Yum yum!

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