How many more things can you do with rice?

A while ago, I wrote about rice, and made some risotto.  Ok, so what else can you do with rice?  How about pilaf?  Rice pilaf isn’t a specific dish exactly.  It is more like a method of cooking, kind of like risotto.  A lot of the specifics will depend on the type of rice that you decide to use.  For example, if you make pilaf using the plain old long grain rice that we all have in the cabinet you’ll use a 2:1 ratio of water to rice.  Basmati? 1.5:1  Now, do you have to use water?  No, of course you can, but it will be kind of plain.  There are almost limitless options when it comes to cooking.  In fact there are a number of dishes from around the world that use more or less the same method for cooking the rice.  Depending on what part of the world different varieties of rice, cooking liquids, and other ingredients will be used.  How you want to flavor it will dictate how you will add the different ingredients.  The basis for pilaf seems to come from the Middle East.  I have a Persian cookbook that has some really interesting rice dishes that are based on a pilaf.  I’ll try to come back to some of them as I get time, but for now I just want to give you a basic idea.

Lets start with the basics, you’re going to need rice.  Long grain works well here.  Basmati, jasmine, or even your basic long grain rice will work.  Liquid, depending on the kind of rice you are using will be between 1.5 and 2 times the volume of the rice you have.  Mirepoix, a small diced onion, a little celery, and a little carrot.  A couple of nice versions you can try are saffron, or curry powder.   Obviously, you will need something to cook the rice in, and a second pot to heat up your liquid.  A rubber spatula, and a little oil.

First, heat up your liquid.  Easy.  If you are making saffron pilaf, take a pinch of threads and put it in the cold liquid, bring it up to a boil.  Meanwhile, in the other pot, heat the oil, and add the rice.  With the spatula, stir the rice, pretty much like you did for the risotto.  Again you’re looking for the rice to become clear on the ends, and maybe brown ever so slightly and get a nice nutty smell. Taking the curry option?  Add that now, roughly a teaspoon(a bit less) per cup of uncooked rice, and stir that in.  Next add in your mirepoix, and stir until the onion has become clear-ish.  Add the liquid, bring it up to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and let it sit for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, turn off the heat, and let it sit for another 10 minutes.  What you will have will be perfectly cooked, tender, and individual grains of rice.  It is so easy you’ll wonder why you ever just boiled rice into a sticky mess.  (There are reasons to do just that actually, but I’ll get to them later!)

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