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There’s a taco truck we love called El Camion. It’s parked beside the pet store and near our grocery store, so sometimes we just end up right there and are practically forced to stop in for a few tacos. My husband always gets fish tacos, but my choice is lengua (beef tongue) or cochinita pibil (seasoned pork) with the hottest salsa they have. I need to have something refreshing to cool my mouth… and I quickly learned the best option is a tall cup of horchata. Made with rice and sometimes almonds, cinnamon and sugar and served cold cold cold with lots of ice, horchata is creamy, sweet, delicious and thirst-quenching… and hands-down my favorite item on El Camion’s menu. It always tastes good, and it’s baffling why I waited so long to start making my own.

Imagine: a steady supply of ice cold goodness on the hottest days of the year! No need to venture into Ballard, and so much more affordable than buying a cup a day from El Camion. Horchata takes more planning than effort to make. I researched a handful of recipes before coming up with my own, and really like the ratio of rice and almonds I share below. Some variations include using only rice, exchanging almonds for an equal amount of raw cashews, or flipping the proportions of rice and nuts. I think it comes down to personal preference, and maybe price or ingredient availability, but any of these options will yield a great horchata. I used my Blendtec to pulverize the rice, but I think a strong food processor would also work. I chose to use a fine mesh strainer instead of a nut milk bag, which leaves some grittiness in the final product. I like that– it somehow seems more substantial, and the texture doesn’t bother me at all. If you want a smoother horchata, make sure to take the extra time to run it through a nut milk bag, or several layers of cheesecloth.

Whether it’s Taco Tuesday or just a warm summer evening, you will love having horchata in your refrigerator for a quick, cold drink. I am going to make a batch each week for the remainder of the summer, and treat myself! The summer is speeding by, and I want to enjoy every moment I can.

horchata

Horchata (adapted from Food52 Vegan and Yucatan)

  • 1 c. long-grain white rice
  • 1 cinnamon stick, about 3″ long, broken into smaller pieces
  • 1/2 c. raw almonds
  • 4 c. water
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • pinch of kosher salt

Place the rice and cinnamon stick into the jar of your blender and run on a medium speed until broken up. You don’t want fine dust, but you do want tiny, sand-like particles. Add the raw almonds, whole or sliced is fine, and 2 c. of water to the rice. Swirl to mix and allow to sit at room temperature for 8 hours.

Add the sugar, salt and remaining 2 c. water to the blender jar. Blend on medium-high speed for 1-2 mins. until smooth and slightly frothy. It should look like milk with sediment at the bottom of the jar. Set a fine mesh strainer, nut milk bag or cheesecloth-covered colander over a large bowl that will hold at least 4 c. liquid. Pour the contents of the blender into your straining set up and allow to drip for about 30 mins. If you push the mixture through with a spoon, you will get a grainier horchata, so try to just let it go. Discard the solids and store the horchata in a large jar or covered pitcher in the refrigerator. Serve over ice. Will keep in the refrigerator for about 5-7 days… if it lasts that long!

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