Champorado. Kheer. Meghli. Grjónagrautur. Whatever you're calling it, rice pudding is a dish steeped in tradition, with variations present in pretty much all of humanity's great food cultures. It's fairly simple to make, near impossible to master, and allows for almost limitless options.
Which is exactly why we decided to kick off the weekend in the best possible way with the new king of rice puddings: koji rice pudding. Just what makes koji rice pudding the sovereign form of rice puddings, you ask? Why, that would probably have to do with the fact that you're using koji—which is fermented rice that has been inoculated with aspergillus oryzae—to give toothsome sushi rice unparalleled depth and flavor. This is a case of one rice plus a filamentous fungus made of rice equaling much more than just the sum of the two rices.
Maya Erickson, the pastry prodigy of San Francisco's wildly popular Lazy Bear, is only 24 years old, which may be why she so easily thinks outside of the oft-manipulated box that is rice pudding. Erickson has been working in professional pastry kitchens since she was 13, and her desserts are a big part of the reason why Lazy Bear's ticketed reservations are so hard to get.
This is, quite simply, rice pudding like you've never seen it done before.