I remember when I was in grade 5 and I invited a classmate to come over after school. My Mom and Dad asked her if she’d like to stay for supper after we worked on a school project. She called her mom to ask for permission and was really excited to have supper with us.
“Do you eat rice every day?”
At first, I was really offended by the question. “Why? Because we’re Asian?”
“Umm. Uh. No. Yes. Maybe? I’m just curious”, she said.
“Well, we don’t eat rice every day. We eat pasta, potatoes…we have Shepherd’s Pie and spaghetti too”, I explained. “Do you eat rice?”
My friend laughed and asked, “Do you drink water?”
There. I learned a lesson that night. Rice wasn’t food only Asians consumed. Even kids with European roots eat rice. It wasn’t until I was a young adult that I discovered just how versatile rice is. I was even more surprised to see the wide variety of rice grown! Brown rice, wild rice, black rice, Jasmine, Basmati…The varieties of rice are plenty!
Coming from a Filipino-Chinese-Caribbean family, my brothers and I were no strangers to rice dishes. Our family members in the Philippines eat rice at every meal. My Dad being Caribbean Chinese makes a really amazing rice pilau!
As an adult teaching English to students from Asia, South America, and parts of Europe, I got to learn a lot about their cultures. Everyone speaks the universal language of food! Bibimbap, sushi, and other international rice dishes became favourites of mine.
Soups, salads, main courses, and even desserts — Rice is a very versatile ingredient. My mother-in-law makes a great rice pudding.
To be honest, I always found brown and wild rice more difficult to cook. The reason being is that every Asian family I know has a rice cooker to cook white rice. It wasn’t until almost a decade ago that I started using more brown and wild rice. I was never really sure of the best way to cook brown or wild rice. This video of culinary expert, Rose Reisman makes cooking brown rice so much easier.
After watching the video, I perused the riceinfo.com website for recipes to try out. The Apple Pilau recipe on their website looked tantalizing, however, my husband and daughter are not fans of fruit in their rice dishes. I know! Crazy! Not even dried cranberries!
I’m going to make the Brown Rice Cuban Burgers sometime soon. They look delish! Oh, and this Vegetable Rice Pizza reminds me of my college and university days! I was vegetarian for most of my adult life (and then I married a beef farmer). Instead of regular pizza crust, one of my fellow vegetarian friends used to make pizza with rice as the ‘crust’!
While I drool over the rice recipes on the riceinfo.com site, here’s what I made for supper tonight!
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup USA brown rice
- 1cup wild rice
- 1 cup vegetable/tomato juice
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup chicken broth
- ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- oil to sautee onion and garlic
- In a heated heavy pot or dutch oven, sautee onion in a little oil until transluscent. Add garlic, and sautee.
- Add rice, and sautee for 2-3 minutes.
- Pour in vegetable/tomato juice, tomatoes, and chicken stock. Add spice and bring to a boil.
- Cover pot or dutch oven and let pilau cook for 20-25 minutes. Turn the element to low, making sure to watch the rice closely.
- When water is gone and rice is firm not mushy, remove from heat.
I learned that wild rice is actually not a true rice at all, but the see of an aquatic grass!
- Nearly 65 per cent of rice consumed in Canada is grown in the U.S.
- Canada produces no rice of its own. Canadian wild rice is not true rice, but the seed of an aquatic grass.
- The U.S. is one of the largest exporters of rice, supplying 12 per cent of the rice that enters world trade. Approximately 50 per cent of the U.S. rice crop is exported to more than 100 countries.
- Rice is grown in six U.S. states: Arkansas, Louisiana, California, Mississippi, Texas and Missouri. Together, Arkansas, California and Louisiana account for about 80 per cent of U.S. rice acreage and production.
- Rice has been produced in the U.S. for more than 300 years.
- There are approximately 30 rice mills in the U.S.
- The U.S. produces over 40 commercial varieties of rice each year in paddy, brown, white, parboiled and precooked forms.
- There are thousands of rice varieties. At the International Rice Research Institute Genetic Resources Centre in the Philippines, 80,000 rice samples are in cold storage.
- Rice is grown on every continent except Antarctica.
- One seed of rice yields more than 3,000 grains. It is the highest yielding cereal grain and can grow in many kinds of environment and soils.
- Winter-flooded rice fields provide important habitat for migratory waterfowl and other species. Across the U.S., hundreds of thousands of rice acres are being enhanced annually to provide habitat for these birds.
It may sound funny, but I was really excited to learn about all those facts and figures, the varieties and history of rice, and the many ways to cook rice! My husband’s a huge trivia fan, so he thought the rice facts were really interesting as well! I also learned that cooking rice on the stove top is not as hard as I always thought it was. My favourite way to cook rice has always been in a rice cooker! Like I said, pretty much all Filipino households have a rice cooker! I prefer cooking rice on the stove top, but for the sake of convenience and time, I always used a rice cooker.
What’s your family’s favourite rice recipe?
Disclosure – I was compensated for this post, however, as always, all the thoughts and opinions expressed on this blog are honest and my own.