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Ingredient Spotlight:
Erawan Rice Flour & Glutinous Rice Flour

January 25, 2012 by brett

Bread
 Erawan Glutinous Rice Flour

When a recipe calls for rice flour or glutinous rice flour (note: glutinous rice flour does NOT contain gluten), I always reach for Erawan rice flours.
 
I use both Erawan regular rice flour, which has a red label, and Erawan glutinous rice flour, which has a green label in the mainland U.S. and a blue label in Saipan. Erawan products are available in some Asian markets. In Los Angeles’s wonderful San Gabriel Valley, you can find them at Shun Fat Supermarket in Monterey Park and at Hawaii Supermarket (crazy parking lot!) in San Gabriel. Look for the three elephants on the label. (Will post a photo soon.)
 
Rice flour in Asia is processed somewhat differently than rice flour in the U.S. For example, Asian-style rice flour is made by soaking the rice first before grinding it. American-style rice flour is ground up without the soaking process, which I find results in a slightly grittier product.
 
In a pinch, I sometimes use American-style rice flour (e.g. Koda Farms glutinous rice flour and Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free White (and Brown) Rice Flour) when cooking, but I prefer Erawan’s Asian-style rice flour for its finer texture, lower cost, and ready availability (in the San Gabriel Valley as well as on Saipan).
 
Note: I contacted Koda Farms, a wonderful, long-time family-run operation in the small town of Dos Palos, CA, and they quickly confirmed their rice flour and facilities to be free of gluten (wheat, rye, barley, oats), dairy, egg, tree nuts, peanuts, and sesame.
 
Note: Bob’s Red Mill confirmed the gluten-free status of their “gluten-free” labeled rice flours as well. (Not all Bob’s Red Mill products are gluten-free; carefully read the labels to make sure. You can check their website for more information about their gluten-free label.
 
Erawan labels their rice flours as gluten-free. I have not contacted the company to get confirmation; however, I’ve cooked with Erawan extensively, and to date, my son has not had any allergic reactions (and he’s very sensitive to allergen contamination). YMMV, of course. As far as I can tell, Erawan’s main focus is on rice products. They are a reputable brand. In my opinion, they are the top brand in the rice flour category.
 
It should be noted Erawan uses Thai-grown rice and bases its operations in Thailand, a country that does not fall within traditional wheat-growing regions. This, and the fact that Erawan is focused primarily on rice and rice products, increases the chances that Erawan is less likely to process wheat, a primary source of gluten, in its facilities.
 
Please note that just because an Asian country eats rice as its primary starch does not necessarily mean they will be free of wheat and other sources of gluten. (Obviously, there’s soy sauce, which contains wheat and is used extensively in most of Chinese cooking.) For example, Chinese folks are known for eating rice, but in fact, wheat — not rice — is the dominate grain crop in northern China, where it is too cold to grow rice. Subsequently, wheat shows up a lot in northern Chinese cuisine (green onion pancake, man tou bread, etc.) and, to a lesser extent, in the cuisine of other regions of China. Even dim sum, which hails from the rice-growing southern province of Guangdong, wheels and deals in a lot of wheat: har gow (crystal shrimp dumplings), cha siu bao, woah teep (potstickers), siu lung bao (a.k.a. xiao long bao, XLB, soup dumplings).
 
OK, back to rice flour. I exercise caution when shopping for bags of rice flour (or any flour, for that matter.) For some reason, gluten-free flours are often placed side by side (or completely surrounded) by gluten-containing flours. Flour gets airborne so easily, so I do my best to avoid buying gluten-free flour packages that have unidentified flour dust on the packages if they are displayed next to gluten-containing flours.
 
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10 Comments »

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  4. Celeste says:

    I often use sweet rice flour in my gluten-free cooking and baking but have always been leery about purchasing some of the Asian rice flours because I had concerns about whether they were gf. I’ve heard many people comment about the Erawan though so it might be worth trying. I’ve used the Koda and Bob’s and they’re both great sweet rice flours.

  5. I used to bake GF bread with erawan rice flour, but now I can’t get it anymore in Alberta (Canada). Can you tell me which stores in Alberta still carry it? Your help would be greatly appreciated. Klara

    • Tanya says:

      I just found Erawan rice flour (glutonous and regular) at Superstore in BC for $0.85 a bag! Will be stocking up, for sure!

    • Dan says:

      Sorry Klara, we don’t live in Alberta so won’t be much help. I suggest calling around to your local Asian markets to see if any currently have some in stock. Most will begin stocking some if you ask them to. If all else fails, try online at an Asian market like ImportFood.com or even Amazon.
      p.s. sorry for the tardy response. I didn’t read your question when I first saw your comment.

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