popped rice paddy

i feel i’ve mastered popping corn. yet i almost burned my house down popping rice today. my mom brought over a bag of rice “paddy” as the product above is called, which is rice that is still in the husk, completely unprocessed. she also brought over a small container of paddy that she had popped in a bag in the microwave (pictured above to the left). cute right? like tiny white kernels of popcorn but with a fashionable animal print on its back. it tasted like popcorn but better! a little nutty, almost buttery too, though there wasn’t a drop of oil added to it.

so of course, i went and tried to add oil to it. my intention was good–i wanted to see if by making it on the stove with oil, just like popcorn, i could start to add flavours to it. well, unlike corn, it took much longer to even start to pop. then when the real popping started and soon slowed, i peeked in the pot to see that nearly half of the paddy hadn’t popped. but none had burned, so i thought it might need a little more time on the stove. the phone rang. i did not answer it! noooo, i thought, this could burn, i can’t leave it. but i still turned my back on it–for a minute. everything that followed happened very quickly. there was black smoke billowing out of the kitchen, a fire alarm that screamed in my ears for five minutes while i stood on a chair furiously fanning it, a pot so blackened and foul-smelling i had to take it outside–but not before i set it down in the pantryin a panic, just long enough to burn a hole into the wood floor. my lungs kinda hurt, the house, my hair and all of our clothes still smell like an ashtray. all of this to learn that rice paddy pops more efficiently in the microwave than on the stove. so pick up some paddy the next time you’re in a south-asian grocery store and feel free to learn from my mistakes. i’m not in the mood to eat popped rice now for at least a year, but it is delicious and i highly recommend it. you will love it.