Hainanese Rice Crispies

Puffed Rice

Can you guess what that is?

Yes, it looks puffed up because it is.

Give up?

It’s actually rice. Puffed rice to be exact. Think rice crispies and you get my drift.

Some time back, I posted about this snack in a meme I did about Childhood Food Memories and I promised to post about this when my grannie made it for this coming Chinese New Year (CNY).

Now, this isn’t your usual rice crispies. The ones my dear grannie makes, they’re one of a kind. Till now, I have yet to be able to find it elsewhere. I call it the asian version of the more popular Rice Krispie Cremes and made in a totally different way.

For my family, and for most Hainanese, we call this snack hor gong, or haw kong, it doesn’t matter how it’s spelt as long as you pronounce it properly. My maternal grandmother used to make them every CNY but for the past 5 years she stopped – simply because it was a labourious effort and she wasn’t getting any younger. But this year, she decided to make them again, with the help of 4 of my aunts. As for me, I decided to snoop around a bit and take some photographs. So here I present to you the lady of the show, my maternal grannie!

my maternal grandmother

She’s busy measuring the amount of puffed rice to use. Mind you, there were so much rice! And puffing them doubles their quantity. You’ll understand as you read on.

Haw Kong

Here’s the hor gong I was telling you about. This is one of my dearest grannie’s speciality. She’s a darn sweet lady and rather fine as well. She raised 8 daughters up and till this day, she’s still strong and active. Very adorable and kind hearted. Love going to her place – only setback is that my Mandarin isn’t that good. But it’s okay, we can understand each other. I do understand most of the Hainanese dialect they speak; although I can’t speak it.

Okay back to the delicious snack…

roasted peanuts

Ahhh roasted peanuts. Hey they didn’t just buy them pre-roasted okay. My aunt and grannie roasted it themselves, thus the aroma. Trust me, you’ll want to pop some in your mouth after taking a sniff.

Okay, so you have roasted peanuts, and you have:

Puffed rice

Puffed rice. Loads of it. What do you do next?

Make some caramel of course….

making caramel

Do note that the caramel contains ginger and lime juice (for that refreshing taste).

It takes skill to ensure you don’t over burn the caramel.

After the caramel’s ready, add it to the puffed rice, and throw in some toasted sesame seeds and viola:

Caramel with puffed rice

Okay here’s a more detailed picture of how that came about:

Caramel with puffed rice – before and after

Mix the peanuts with the rice, add to caramel, mix well, place it on trays to cool. Then you slice it!

In case you’re wondering how the puffed rice is made. I’ll show you:

Puffing rice for haw kong

Now, the rice is actually dried under the sun (grannie does it for leftover rice for the entire year, thus the accumulative volume!). It must be really dry or else your rice won’t puff.

So you have your dried rice, now, heat up some oil, lots of it, and using a coliander or sieve as you can see, place some rice in it and lower into the oil. The rice puffs up really quick so be careful. Drain all the oil and set aside.

Next, here’s another detailed picture of how the rice is added to the caramel, placed in trays and properly sliced:

slicing haw kong

Tadah! My photo essay of sorts on this yummy Hainanese snack is complete.

It was interesting as this was certainly the first time watching my grannie make this. I love hor gong and missed it so much. Boy am I glad she’s making it again. I hope to learn from her and maybe make it myself someday.

I’ll soon have some tins of those lovely treats so if you want to taste them, come to my place during CNY visting why don’t you? hahaa… you won’t regret!

Posted on 15th Jan 2006 in Uncategorized


There Are 19 Comments


MQube commented on January 15, 2006 at 4:25 am


i love this snack too, but find the commercial ones of increasingly low standard

question though, u mentioned your granny does it (the drying) for leftover rice for an entire year….are there preservatives used?


Tazz commented on January 15, 2006 at 6:55 am

Thanks for the enlightening post. Now I know how this snack is made. 🙂


valentinA commented on January 15, 2006 at 8:50 am

I stumbled on your blog:)
Wow, your granny is really good at this! U lucky person 🙂


Fat Fingers commented on January 15, 2006 at 10:23 am

wah i want to try making it with Mr. Fat Fingers haha but i think now i might have develop allergies to nuts 🙁 i have to monitor and see 🙁 been getting rashes and itch and all.. grrrr
but i really want to try this!!!!


Kampungkai commented on January 15, 2006 at 2:41 pm

I love your blog! so much! hahaah food everywhere, everything looks so delicious, so mouth-watering, so…. make me wanna eat! Dun stop writing, i’ll refer to your recipes whenever i wanna eat something! hahahah 😛


spots commented on January 15, 2006 at 2:42 pm

hey this is cool! thanks for the explanation – i’ve always wondered how puffed rice was made 🙂


joone! commented on January 16, 2006 at 2:15 am

Fantastic stuff! I’ve never had those before, send some to me? 🙂


the baker commented on January 16, 2006 at 3:37 am

MQube: ya same here. the ones sold outside is very different too. Not as crisp as the ones my grannie makes.

ya the leftover rice is simply let out to dry in the sun or oven to make sure there’s no moisture left. Nope, no preservatives are used. Drying it itself is already preserving it.

Tazz: you’re welcome!

Valentina: you bet… my grannie is a great cook. she’s the best! haha

FatFingers: oh no, you better go see a doc! i love nuts, i can’t imagine having a nut allergy. I hope it’s not an allergy you’re having though…

Kampungkai: haha ya food, that’s what i’m known for, i have a reputation of making even a full person hungry! hehe…

spots: no problem. i also had no idea until now.. 🙂

joone: you’ve never had? you should! haha come my house during CNY then… :p oh that reminds me, eh we could have another food blogger CNY thingie… what say you? like at someone’s house or something! and we all bring stuff!


J commented on January 16, 2006 at 6:50 am

hi, WOW! i’ve never had the good fortune of trying these before – they look and sound truly fantastic! aren’t grannies simply the best? 😉


S commented on January 16, 2006 at 12:03 pm

Hi Cheryl,
Thank you for sharing this lovely story with us. It’s such a special treat to get a peek in the kitchen when traditional foods are being prepared.


Gabrielle commented on January 16, 2006 at 1:35 pm

I don’t really like eating these but i must say those look really delicious! Love the honey-like colour. 🙂


the baker commented on January 16, 2006 at 5:24 pm

J: i couldn’t agree more! it’s amazing how talented grannies are. i guess it comes with the wealth of experience in the kitchen. you should try it! maybe if we all do have that CNY thing, I could bring some 🙂

S: You’re welcome. It’s a pleasure to let others in on such a rare treat!

Gabrielle: me too. they look great but they taste even better.


Little Nutbrown Hare commented on January 16, 2006 at 9:13 pm

This is a really sweet post. I’ve always wanted to learn how to cook traditional stuff from my granny. She has a few signature recipes like meatballs, rice dumplings and an array of chinese new year cookies. But she’s too old to bake now…

Your grandma’s rice crispies look very good, nothing like those commercial ones that are skiving in ingredients and the hard work put in…


flo commented on January 17, 2006 at 10:39 am

hey cheryl,
i jus popped in and ouh la la! that just seems delicious! thanks for sharing this family moment and BRAVO to your granny!!


jadepearl commented on January 17, 2006 at 1:59 pm

OMG…. I like!!! Its one of my fav. childhood snacks!!! Thanks for the recipe!!! Its a keeper!


Yaha commented on January 19, 2006 at 2:45 pm

Wow, reminds me of my childhood ! I’m Hainanese and I had this when I was a kid. Almost forgotten about this snack. Do you also make the other titi-bits called “heng how zi” ? You can buy it at the Hainanese cake shop around Seah Street area (Hylam St 1 or 2). My dad just got it the other day.


babe_kl commented on January 24, 2006 at 5:26 pm

whoa, i absolutely heart these!!! yumz, thanks for sharing all the hardwork grannie had put into it with loads of love and care 😉


Anonymous commented on August 11, 2007 at 7:58 am

Hi! I was surfing for some hainanese snacks and came across your blog. I hardly ate this even though I’m Hainanese – but I’m no stranger to this. My sister just came back from Hainan with some of this just a few months ago. While I’m on the snack trail, do you know anything about this hainanese snack – a squarish white glutinous covering with coconut filling? This can be found in stalls that sell nonya kuehs but the hainanese version has sesame seeds, peanuts and I believe ginger in it. In my childhood, I even vaguely recalled some versions of bee tai mak strands in a big basin which a hawker would scoop up and roll them into this coconut mixture and serve it in a bowl. Regards!


rick commented on July 27, 2014 at 5:17 pm


thank you….

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