Rice is a cereal grain and one of the most commonly used staples around the world. There are lots of different ways of cooking rice and almost every country in the world has its own unique take on it, from oriental sticky rice or steamed rice as an accompaniment to stir-fries, stews and curries, to one-pot meals such as an Italian risotto, a Spanish paella, or even a Caribbean Jambalaya. Rice can be sweetened up too, with rice pudding being a classic comfort food. Learning how to cook long grain rice so that it is perfectly fluffy every time is also a skill worth practicing. Getting it right will help you create tasty and thrifty meals suitable for the whole family. Here are some of my favourite recipes from around the world, starting with a simple method to getting plain rice perfectly fluffy.
Rinsing long grain rice can give you a bit of a head start, helping to remove loose starch so that there is less chance of it becoming sticky. Jamie’s simple recipe for Light and fluffy rice introduces an easy method for boiled basmati rice, which can also be flavoured as you cook it, with a cinnamon stick, a few cardamom pods, lemon zest or even green tea leaves. First of all, rinse the rice, and then boil it in a large pan of salted water for five minutes. Next, drain the rice and steam it by placing the rice in a colander, covered with foil, above a couple of centimetres of gently boiling water. Steaming the rice in this way will help to finish it off, separating the grains without overcooking them.
There’s another very simple method of cooking rice in this Slavic-inspired recipe for Beef stroganoff fluffy rice, red onion & parsley pickle. This is my favourite crowd-pleasing meal and if you’ve got vegetarians to feed, simply swap the sirloin steaks for even more mushrooms. Once you’ve got the rice on the go, get on with making your quick parsley pickle, before adding in mushrooms, garlic, steak, sweet paprika, lemon zest and a little brandy for good measure. Finish off the stroganoff with a swirl of natural yoghurt, serve it on a bed of rice cooked with spinach and scatter over some more of the pickle. You’ll soon be tucking into an impressive yet easy to make Eastern-European feast.
For something a little different, you could also try making a cost-conscious Korean stir-fried rice, which uses leftover brisket quickly marinated in a few store cupboard favourites, such as BBQ sauce, chili sauce and soy sauce. Then take a big pan and mix it up with some garlic, chilli, mushrooms, cabbage and cooked rice, along with eggs, sesame seeds and even more chilli if you like things extra spicy! The full recipe is available in our latest book, Save with Jamie.
Finally, for inspiration from all over the world, don’t forget to look up some of the recent Search for a Food Tube star entries. All of the recipe videos use rice, and there are some really unusual ideas to explore.
Ren Behan is a food writer and mum of two. Find out more at www.renbehan.com