Rice dishes are an easy and fast way to serve up a healthy entree or side. Because of rice's versatility, pretty much any food group can be paired to make a great tasting dish. From fruits to vegetables to meats and sauces, rice is the perfect canvas to create your kitchen masterpiece.
There are many types of rice, and the type of grain you choose will factor into the dish you are making. For example, for traditional Chinese stir fries, go with white rice as it takes on the flavor of whatever sauce you are using in recipe. For healthier, heartier dishes, you may want to go with brown rice, which is rich in vitamins and minerals. Basmati rice, a long-grain rice, is perfect for Indian and Middle Eastern dishes and is marked by its rich nutty or corn-like flavor. Jasmine rice is another popular varietal. Like basmati, it too is a long-grain rice used often in Indian cooking and is distinctive in that the rice, once cooked, is often very sticky and clings to itself.
When preparing rice, there are several different methods, each of which has their benefit and their burden. The simplest way of preparing rice is in the microwave. Certain rices, such as brown and white rice, are sold in instant rice form. This rice comes in a special pouch that steams the rice in the microwave. The benefit of instant rice is that it drastically reduces preparation time. However, oftentimes, the subtle flavors of the rice are lost and the texture might be chewier. Also, instant rice limits the amount of rice you can make at once, which may pose difficulties when preparing a large meal.
The stove top is another method of making rice. This method entails boiling the rice grains in a covered pot of water for a specified amount of time, often 30 minutes to an hour depending on the quantity of rice being prepared. The benefit of this method is the rice retains its rich flavors and pleasant textures. In addition, with a large enough pot, you can make enough rice to last a week. However, this method does take time and may prove to be too inefficient for regular preparation. In addition, if the rice is not timed carefully, it can either end up overcooked or undercooked. Overcooked or burnt rice can create terrible smells and ruin pots. Undercooked rice is hard and kernel like.
If you have the money, a rice cooker can be a great investment. Rice cookers are kitchen appliances specifically designed to steam rice. Rice cookers allow the rice grains to retain their flavors and textures, while cooking the rice at optimal temperatures and for optimal times, avoiding the problem of undercooking or overcooking. Although it can take longer to prepare rice in a rice cooker than in the microwave, rice cookers can handle larger quantities of grains.
Many foods can be mixed with rice to make delicious entrees.
If using white rice, considering sauteeing pieces of chicken breast mixed with chicken broth and vegetables, such as green pepper, red pepper, bamboo shoots and shitake mushrooms. For a little bit of spice, you can add some chili powder or a hot pepper, like jalapeno. Substitute cuts of pork or beef for chicken or use tofu to create a vegetarian dish.
If you use brown rice, try mixing it with boiled red beans and chili with a dollop of sour cream. This can be a hearty and heart-healthy dish, especially if you use meatless chili and low fat sour cream or substitute plain yogurt. If you prepare a stew, consider pouring the mixture over the brown rice. The rice will soak up the moisture and add a nutty flavor as well as necessary vitamins and nutrients.
If you use basmati rice, consider serving it as a bed for portions of lamb with traditional Greek yogurt sauce. You can also try vegetarian options such as sauteed peppers, onions and tomatoes, spiced with turmeric and curry powder.
If you use jasmine rice, consider mixing it with chickpeas cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. This makes a protein-rich vegetarian dish. If you like meat, substitute chicken or lamb for the chickpeas. Even deep fried vegetables, such as cauliflower and broccoli, can make a great pairing with jasmine rice.
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