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Author Notes: There's an izakaya in Portland named biwa that I really love. In addition to really delicious food it has a great cocktail list. Last time I was at biwa, I had the genmai chuhai -- a shochu "haiball" flavored with toasted rice and vanilla. The toasted rice gave it a slightly unusual, but remarkably pleasant flavor. The cocktail is much like a soda and sweeter than I typically prefer, but the toasty rice flavor really won me over. After several sips I decided I had to try to replicate it. - hardlikearmour
Makes about 1 1/2 cups syrup
Toasted Rice Syrup
- 1 cup sweet rice (sometimes called glutinous or sticky rice)*
- 1 cup evaporated cane juice (or substitute granulated or turbinado sugar)
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 450º F. Spread rice into a thin layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, stirring several times, about 15 minutes. When done the rice should look similar to toasted coconut. Warning: toasting the rice will generate some smoke.
- While the oven is preheating, combine sugar and water in a high-sided sauce pan with a tight fitting lid. Once the rice is in the oven, heat sugar mixture over medium with the lid on the pan. Gently swirl the pan occasionally to help dissolve the sugar. Once the mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat.
- Pour the toasted rice into the sugar syrup. It will bubble vigorously, so use caution. Add the vanilla extract. Cover and let come to room temperature.
- Strain the mixture though a mesh strainer. Refrigerate.
- *Sweet rice can be found in Asian markets. You may be tempted to substitute another variety of rice, but please don't -- it just won't taste right!
Toasted Rice Chuhai
- 1 1/2 ounces Jinro Soju
- 1 1/2 ounces toasted rice syrup
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar (or substitute lemon juice)
- Combine Soju, toasted rice syrup, and vinegar in a highball glass (12-14 oz). Add several ice cubes (fill glass 1/3 to 1/2 way). Fill glass with seltzer. Stir gently to combine. Serve.
- Note: feel free to adjust the proportions to taste or leave out the Soju for a non-alcoholic soda.