A staple in many parts of the world, rice in its many varieties lends itself to countless methods of preparation.
There are many types of rice, but they are basically divided into three broad categories: long, medium or short grain. To ensure success when preparing a rice-based dish make sure you use the variety called for in the recipe. The different levels of starch in each of the categories produce very different results. Follow the package directions for cooking carefully to make sure your rice turns out perfectly.
SHRIMP FRIED RICE
Perfect fried rice relies on chilled, cooked rice. If the rice isn't chilled first it will stick to the pan.
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp Asian sesame oil
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided use
1½ lbs medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup finely chopped green onion
1 Tbsp minced, peeled fresh ginger
4 cups chilled, cooked long-grain rice (I like to use Basmati rice) 1½ cups frozen green peas, thawed
Combine the first six ingredients in a bowl. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp; cook until just cooked through,
about four minutes. Remove from pan and keep warm. Heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil in the same pan. Add the eggs and stir-fry for about 30 seconds or until softly scrambled, stirring constantly. Stir in the onions and ginger and stir-fry for one minute. Stir in the soy sauce mixture, shrimp, rice and peas. Cook, stirring frequently, for about three minutes or until heated through. Makes four-six servings.
MEXICAN RICE CASSEROLE
1½ cups uncooked brown rice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb lean ground beef
½ cup chopped onion
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp dried oregano ½ tsp Tabasco sauce
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tsp minced garlic
1 398-ml can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 398-ml can tomato sauce ½ cup salsa
1 341-ml can corn niblets, drained
4 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, divided use
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese plus ½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (or use
1 cup pre-shredded Mexican cheese blend)
2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch thick slices
Sour cream and/or guacamole to garnish
Cook rice according to package directions; set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat; add the ground beef and brown it, breaking it up as it cooks. After three to four minutes of browning add the onion and all of the seasonings (paprika through salt and pepper). Stir to combine; continue cooking until beef is completely browned and the onions are cooked. Stir in the minced garlic and cook one minute more.
Add the cooked rice, black beans, tomato sauce, salsa, corn and two tablespoons of the cilantro; stir until well combined. Pour the mixture into a greased 9x13-inch baking dish, spreading it evenly. Arrange the tomato slices evenly over top, then sprinkle with the two cheeses. Spray one side of a piece of aluminum foil with cooking spray and cover the dish with it. Bake for 20 minutes; remove foil and bake uncovered for another seven minutes. Garnish with sour cream and/or guacamole and remaining chopped cilantro.
Makes eight servings.
COCONUT RICE PUDDING
1 litre homogenized milk
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup granulated sugar
1 400-ml can unsweetened oconut milk, shaken well
½ cup shredded sweetened oconut
In a large saucepan combine the milk, rice and sugar with two cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the rice is tender and suspended in a thick, creamy sauce, about 30 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice is very tender and the liquid has thickened, about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly; transfer to a medium bowl.
Cover with plastic wrap, placing wrap directly on the surface of the pudding to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Note: You can also serve the pudding warm or at room temperature. In a small skillet over medium heat toast the coconut, stirring constantly, until fragrant and golden.
Transfer to a plate to cool. Spoon the pudding into bowls and garnish with the toasted coconut.
Makes six servings.