Mochi Gnocchi with Red Sauce {gluten-free}

>>  Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gluten free gnocchi
I have always loved chewy things.  Mochi is one of my all time favorite snacks, and I love the al dente texture of fresh homemade pasta.  I actually prefer chewy gnocchi to the pillowy soft kind.

So the other day I thought I would try and combine my two favorite chewy ingredients in a brave effort to make the chewiest gnocchi of them all.
Rice flour
I had the brilliant idea that I would use glutinous rice flour (or sticky rice flour) instead of normal flour and mix that with potatoes to make this hybrid gnocchi.

Unlike what I thought I would achieve, this gnocchi was actually rather pillowy soft. The texture is not bad, but definitely not the chewy goodness I was looking for.  Furthermore, it was impossible to handle.  Most notably, it did not stick together and was tricky to roll out.  It wasn't until I started searching for gluten-free gnocchi recipes online that I realized many recipes add xantham gum, a polysaccharide that is often used as a gluten substitute.


The biggest surprise was the taste. I was so surprised at how much I could taste the rice flavor. It really tasted like a cross between mochi and gnocchi. I was not used to tasting the rice flavor mixed in with Italian sauces, so I was a bit confused. Byran thought it was weird and not-so-great.
Rice Gnocchi
We both agreed that the rice flavor detracts from most Italian dishes. Perhaps if you're making an Asian-inspired gnocchi dish, it might not be so weird. Or, if you have a strong sauce to cover up the rice flavor, then it might work as well.

Though it was a fun experiment, I'll be going back to using normal flour from now on.  This was one fusion dish that just did not turn out as great as I thought it would.
Gnocchi
For those of you curious about what I tried, here is the recipe.  Feel free to use it as a beginning point, add xanthum gum or something, and see if you have better success.

For detailed pictures on how to shape gnocchi, please check out my kabocha squash gnocchi post.

Gluten Free Gnochhi
1 cup glutinous rice flour (e.g., Mochiko)
2 baking potatoes
2 eggs, beaten

Cook the potatoes.  You can pierce the skin with a fork and cook the potatoes in the microwave for about 7 minutes (covered with 1-2 Tablespoons of water in the bowl).  Or you can boil the potatoes in water for about 20 minutes (or until soft).  Mash up the potatoes (while hot), and combine with the rice flour and 2 beaten eggs. Form into a ball by hand. Because there is no gluten, this ball will not be as sticky, and will be harder to handle.

Working in portions, roll out the gnocchi into foot long "snakes" and cut them into bite size pieces.  As I mentioned before, because this dough was quite "loose" and tougher to handle, instead of actually rolling, I just pressed the dough together into a long, snake-like shape and cut them.

 Press the tines of a fork into each one to give it that characteristic gnocchi shape.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the gnocchi pieces (they should sink) and wait until they float. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Drain water, and serve with sauce.
Rice Gnocchi
I had received a jar of Bertolli's Arrabiata pasta sauce from Foodbuzz as part of the Tastemaker's program. I decided to combine that with this gnocchi.  The Bertolli sauce was actually pretty good for a jar sauce. It was not too salty (like some of them are), and had a nice, complex flavor.

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