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khao tok (ข้าวตอก)

Thai. ‘Popped rice’. Puffed rice, obtained by heating unhusked rice kernels in a large wok and some fine sand, usually from a nearby river, to disperse the heat evenly and prevent the rice from sticking. First, the rice is poured into a large wok over a fire and mixed with the sand already in there, while the entire content is slowly stirred. After a short the while, the rice kernels start to swell and pop, shedding their husk, swelling in size and turning mostly white in the process. After they have all popped, the content of the wok is scooped out and sieved over the wok in order to return the sand for further usage, while the remainder is then conveyed to another sieve with a larger grid, in order to sift out the empty rice husks, that are retrieved to fuel the fire (fig.). Depending on the kind of rice used, the colour of the popped rice is either overall white, or a mix of light and dark colours. Besides being used to make snack foods such as puffed rice cakes (fig.), puffed rice is in Thailand, especially in Yasothon, also used to make ornate garlands (fig.) and mobiles called malai khao tok (fig.), as well as other artifacts, such as pear-shaped arrangements called phum (fig.). Pronunciation khaaw tauk. WATCH VIDEO.