You may not expect to read about a food truck drink on a health blog. Certainly, many of the options available from food trucks are not health foods, though there are now better options than there once were–hot dogs, chips, and pop.
It was at the Kitsilano Farmer’s Market one Sunday that I tried my first horchata. The food truck is called Guanaco, and it serves foods from El Salvador. I had never previously tried any Salvadoran cuisine, and I did enjoy my pasteles and yuca fries. It was, however, the horchata that had me hooked.
Guanaco uses morro seeds, ground cocoa, cinnamon, sesame seeds, nutmeg, tigernuts and vanilla to make their traditional beverage. Many other countries–Mexico, Spain, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, etc–also make their own versions. I found a recipe online and then contacted my good friend, Chef Luisa Rios of Cooking Journeys about making our own. We copied a recipe adapted from Rick Bayless, a chef who specializes in Mexican foods. We’ve made a couple of modifications and here’s our version.
2/3 cup (dry) long grain rice
1 1/4 cup blanched almonds (we blanched our own)
3-inch cinnamon stick (but if you too love cinnamon, use extra)
4 1/2 cups water, divided
1/6-1/4 cup light agave nectar, to taste (this is less than half of what the regular recipe called for and it is still sweet)
Combine the rice, almonds, cinnamon stick, and 2 1/2cups hot water in a bowl. Allow the mixture to cool, then cover it. Refrigerate overnight.
Pour the mix into a blender, along with agave. Blend on high until the mixture is as smooth as possible. This will take a few minutes. Add one cup of cold water and blend for 10 seconds. Taste, and add more agave if needed.
Place a large metal sieve over a large bowl and line the sieve with cheesecloth (or use a nut milk bag). Slowly pour the blended mixture through. Press on the solids with a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Squeeze the rest of the liquid out, then discard the remaining pulp.
Pour the mix into a pitcher and stir in the last cup of water. Serve cold.