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A Special Technique: Rice Binding

Published on
22 October 2023
Chef Silvano
Chef Silvano

In attempt to push the boundaries of traditional sauce-making and experimenting with rice, millet, and legume flours, I was tought fundamental insight, thanks to a hint from Karol Kovacovsky, which never had really been explained before.

Notice that sauces bound with various flours, despite using all sorts of tricks, never turn out better than those made with the simplest – and most wholesome – method: reheating already cooked and swollen rice, letting it swell again over gentle heat for as long as possible. The resulting incredibly fine mass (half slime, half liquid) is blended and used to thicken soups and sauces (even fruit sauces). This mass can also – as it turned out – be emulsified quite well with cold cubes of butter using the Beurre Blanc principle. For a vegetarian version, use only oil. It becomes evident that this process could be done very elegantly, conveniently, and efficiently directly in a mixer, as long as the rice liquid is still hot.


Let’s name this technique “rice binding,” and it becomes the foundation for an entire family of innovative vegetarian sauces capable of pleasing even the most discerning palates.

The insight behind this approach is simple: A rice grain is an organism, a whole. When it is broken down as a whole and given enough liquid and time to practically unfold “from the inside out,” the result is remarkably different from when the grain has been crushed into flour, and – metaphorically speaking – none of the tiny flour particles know where their head or feet are.

Building upon this promising foundation, the research can continue. Many of the ideas that emerged from this process can be found hidden in the recipes on my website.

The Fat-Free Fruit and Vegetable Juice Sauces

Another way to create satisfying vegetarian sauces is by using Kuzu. It is a starch extract derived from the Kuzu plant, which is also attributed with healing effects. Kuzu has been traditionally obtained in Japan using simple artisanal methods.


In application, it is as easy to use as corn or potato starch, but of higher quality. More refined, delicate, and subtle in taste, it becomes shiny and transparent in the sauce after a short cooking time. Sauces thickened with Kuzu therefore retain the color of the original ingredients, remaining delicate in taste and pleasing in appearance.


Of course, if necessary, these sauces can also be emulsified or mounted with butter or oil. In this case, only use a whisk; stay away from the mixer, as it would break the binding again.

Kuzu is available in natural food stores. If not, you can use arrowroot powder (Maranta), or if necessary, cornstarch.