What do you think of when you typically think of rice? For many of us, rice is another pantry item we keep around as a simple side to serve with something else. It may also be served as a bed for some other kind of topping, maybe some stir-fried vegetables or some marinated chicken. Still, we don’t generally think of rice as a particularly exciting ingredient… though maybe we should reconsider that.
There’s no doubt that rice is a cheap and affordable carbohydrate that’s easy to cook and goes with all sorts of things. But it’s also an incredibly versatile ingredient that can stand up on its own if you know how to work with it and season it correctly! If you’re on a budget but you still want to eat well, proper rice knowledge is the way to go.
With that in mind, here are 8 delicious and simple ways to make your rice taste amazing.
1.Use some vegetable juice during the cooking process.
Typically, the instructions on rice simply say to boil it with water for a certain amount of time. Still, you can really elevate things by adding things in! For however much water your rice says to use, consider mixing in half that amount of carrot or tomato juice. For an even chunkier and more textured version, you can pour in salsa for half of the mix (as long as it’s more on the liquid side).
2. Give your rice a little toasting before you prepare it.
Although you may have heard of toasting seeds, you can also do the same thing with you actual grains of rice to add some flavor to them. All you have to do is a get a pan, add a little bit of butter or olive oil and lightly brown the grains over medium-high heat, tossing them to make sure they don’t burn. When you finish cooking it all, it should add a little bit of nuttiness to the flavor.
3. Try adding some broth to boil your rice with.
Just like the advice about using vegetable juice, a little bit of broth can go a long way towards livening up your rice dishes. Though you can use vegetable-based broth as well, a nice chicken or beef broth will give your rice a much meatier and more robust flavor. Just be sure to plenty of water as well so your rice doesn’t turn all gummy—half and half is probably the right balance.
4. Season it with Indian spices.
As many people probably know, India is one of the world’s leading consumers of rice (and they definitely know how to cook with it). As anyone who has been to an Indian restaurant knows, the rice there just tastes better. Fortunately, you can do it at home! For one simple version, simply cook basmati rice with a stick of cinnamon, six cloves and two garlic cloves. When the water is cooked off and before you stir, take the chunks out and serve.
5. Or you could try an herbed rice.https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cooked_cilantro_lime_dish_basmati_rice_India.jpg
Similarly, you can also wait until the end to add some fresh flavor to your rice if you’re cooking with fresher ingredients. For a delicious, herbed rice, stir in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of freshly chopped parsley, scallions, basil or cilantro right after the rice is finished cooking. Doing it this way will preserve the integrity of the herbs while infusing your rice with plenty of flavor.
6. Try out a Japanese-style as well.
Sushi is delicious but what many people don’t know is that the way the rice is prepared plays a huge part in the overall experience. To get a little bit of that experience at home, stir in a tablespoon of rice vinegar and one teaspoon of sesame seeds once the rice is done cooking (toasted seeds are ideal). Mix it all together and add some sliced scallions on top!
7. Make your own curry.
If you want to break outside of just plain rice a little bit, making your own curries at home is actually very straightforward as well. First, get a heavy saucepan and sauté half a finely sliced onion in a tablespoon of oil until the onions are browned. Throw in your uncooked rice along with a half teaspoon of salt and a half teaspoon of curry powder (or spice it yourself). Stir everything together to coat the grains before adding water or broth to cook it the rest of the way.
8. Use coconut milk in the cooking process.
For this who don’t know, coconut milk is a magical ingredient when it comes to rice dishes. Many Indian and Thai curry dishes are coconut-based and even for people who don’t like raw coconut, they are so delicious. Just like the tips about broth and juice, you can use water and light coconut milk along with spices of your choosing to make a creamier and richer final product that you’ll love.
Do you have any of your own favorite ways to cook rice? Leave a comment and let us know!
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