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my wife and I took a trip to Vietnam and watched the preparation of many dishes..with popped rice being one of them. The way they pop white rice is to put fine black sand into the bottom of a wok over an extremely hot flame and after the sand is hot enough-a grain is thrown in to see if it pops-the white rice is added to the hot sand and stirred until it gets hot enough to pop. When all the rice is popped the sand is strained off and the rice is put on a large flat tabletop where it is then mixed with flavoring, so in addition to the taste of the popped rice you get a sweetened mixture which only enhances the popped rice. I told my wife the flavor was reminiscent of a bowl of Quacker Popped Rice cereal minus the milk. The sand helps to keep the popping rice from popping out of the pan but is so clean and, you might say sterilized, you just strain the sand right out and you got your popped rice!
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