Rice sustains two thirds of the world’s population, so it’s no surprise that nearly every culture uses it for something in a variety of dishes. If you’re used to plain long-grained rice, you’re in for a treat. By looking around the world, you can find a variety of delicious and exotic rice-based dishes to take your meals from good to great.
Rice salad is the perfect side dish for warm days when you don’t want something hot. But because of the unique starch characteristics of the long-grain rice used to make it, rice salad often turns unappetizing and hard as it cools. “Cook’s Illustrated” magazine recommends toasting raw rice in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, cooking the rice as you would pasta, then spreading the rice on sheets of parchment or wax paper to cool. This helps soften the starch coat so the rice remains pliable.
Paella is a traditional Mediterranean dish made from saffron-seasoned short-grain rice and a variety of proteins and aromatic vegetables. Fish and seafood are traditional in this dish, though you can use just about anything you have around. Rice choice is important, however. The Food Network’s Alton Brown recommends short grain Spanish rices such as Arroz De Valincia and Aroz Bomba. If you can’t find those, you can use Italian Arborio, available in most supermarkets. Paella can be made with some kitchen appliances. you can visit RiceCookerWorld.net to see what machines are available.
Red Beans and Rice
The Iberian Peninsula isn’t the only place you’ll find tasty, exotic dishes. Rice is a traditional ingredient in Caribbean classics such as red beans and rice. You won’t even need to shop for specialty rices to make this dish. Standard, inexpensive long-grain white rice works just fine. If you want to up the nutrition, MayoClinic.com’s healthy recipe section suggests using brown rice, which has more fiber and more minerals than white rice.
Though rice makes a tasty side and a filling base for main dishes, it also makes a wonderful dessert. Rice pudding – a traditional dish from the Indian subcontinent – adds a fragrant, exotic finish to any meal. Though you can make it with standard long-grain rice, Alton Brown (Reference 3) recommends Basmati rice because its heady fragrance marries well with Indian spices.