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Food

The secret ingredient for making the best horchata

Verde Valle rice
Short-grain rice grown in Morelos, Mexico, and sold under the Verde Valle brand, is available at Vallarta supermarkets in Los Angeles.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

When it comes to making horchata, you’d think there’s not much to get precious about. And with most of the ingredients, there isn’t. But during my research into the true version of horchata, I found many mentions of the particularly fragrant, short-grain rice grown in Morelos, Mexico, the state directly south of Mexico City.

Rice from Morelos, Mexico, is fragrant and floral, perfect for flavoring the classic agua fresca

I compared batches of horchata made with Morelos rice and supermarket long-grain white rice. The aromas were distinctly different, with the rice from Morelos smelling and tasting very similar to that of jasmine rice. It’s worth seeking out and not terribly hard to find at Mexican markets. (I found the rice under the house brand name at the Vallarta supermarkets in L.A. and online.)

I loved knowing that this particular rice, whether it’s supposed to be or is ever used to make horchata, could bring a sense of place to this simple agua fresca.


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