Crusty rice is normally a leftover byproduct, but for Ol Sovythy it’s a main meal.
Sovythy – an architect and small business owner – recently started an online delivery service with his fiancée selling “crusty rice bowls”. And they’ve proven surprisingly popular.
On the first day taking orders, he was swamped with about 50 requests.
“I actually could make only 20 to 30 crusty rice bowls because I didn’t have enough people to cook,” he said.
“But I will set up a new faster service to satisfy customers, and if this business is good, I will find good packaging like pizza boxes and deliver to a wider area.”
Leftover rice – often seen drying in the sun along roadsides around Cambodia – is normally fried in oil and eaten like crackers or corn chips.
But Sovythy doesn’t think this method is hygienic.
“I had the idea to cook it in different way, to make a healthy, fried crusty rice bowl.”
He visited Kandal province’s Kien Svay district where he had seen villagers selling crusty rice bowls to learn the technique.
Sovythy takes parboiled rice and then smears it around the inside of another pot. He then cooks it by pouring in half a litre of oil and rotating the pot over a high heat until it’s crunchy. Then he adds some soy sauce, porkfloss, egg, onion, sugar and salt to give it flavour. Each “bowl” takes about an hour to cook.
He believes he’s the only person selling the dish in Phnom Penh.
“Even though this business makes a lot of profit, it is dangerous because we use hot oil. If we have an accident, it will affect us forever,” he said.
There’s another good reason to be careful: they cannot sell the bowl if the rice is broken.
“I have a plan to open a crusty snack shop, but first I want to try with the online channel to get more attention from people liking it,” he said.
Sovythy’s crusty rice bowls cost $5.75. To order, call 010555272