Rice with flavor?

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Senior Cook
Feb 22, 2003
the great fly-over
Rice is one of those foods that i don't necessarily love, but i don't dislike it at all. It's almost like drinking a (very filling) glass of water.
I manage to visit a good steak house every now and then (usually on vacation) and I always order some type of rice as a side--wild rice is my favorite. The rice I get in these places always has a very good taste to it, while the rice I make at home is always very bland.
I have probably tried 10 different ways of making rice (including the extremely anal "true" Japanese way) without noticing a difference in flavor. I've tried adding herbs and several other ingredients to try to add some flavor to my rice. The only thing that I've found that works is boiling the rice in chicken stock instead of water, as I learned from making risotto. But this still does not provide the 'depth of taste' i'm looking for.

Long story short: does anyone have any methods/recipes for cooking good, plain rice that is flavorful but subtle?
well for the most part, unless you make risotto or a pilaf, rice is never going to have a big. bold flavor like a pasta, or potato side dish. You could make a jambalaya or paella, but that in itself is usually the dish and not served as a side. if you can look just for natural taste and quality in the rice, and not be expecting a big, butter-filled experience, than you could go with jasmine or basmati rice which has a really nice, subtle flavor and aroma.

but basically, the reason why the rice you may get at say, morton's or ruth chris is different, is because they add a ton of butter to it
Cooking rice...variations

Could the depth of flavor I think you are referring to actually be what they add AFTER the rice is cooked?

But, for a simple flavorful rice I will take the amount of rice I want to use and saute until a light brown in some oil, add my already sauteed diced onion, add the appropriate amount of chicken stock, and a few sprigs of thyme. This is really good with adobo.

If I want a spiced rice (which I like with curry dishes) I will add some sticks of cinnamon, whole cloves and remove these when rice is done) then add a generous amount of golden raisins. I still use chicken stock here too.

If you like cilantro you can add some fresh as it is cooking - but it takes a lot to impart the flavor (or maybe it just takes a lot for me because I love the flavor).

Butter is a big factor (and salt) but I usually add olive oil and salt. Usually I do use chicken or beef broth instead of water.

What are the names of the places you have eaten this rice that is so good? The curious want to know? :P
i tried something last night on a whim, and really liked the results. i added a few ingredients to the water i cooked my rice in: white wine, chicken boullion granules, white pepper, and a little more salt than i normally use. i cooked my rice in much less water than i normally would and left it uncovered (the point being to try to 'time' it so that the rice would be cooked at the same time almost all the liquid had evaporated from the pot.)
I added pretty modest quantites of the extra ingredients, and while the flavor was not drastically different from the rices i normally make, it was enough to write down :D
Nothing earth-shatteringingly different, but I'll probably keep building on this for awhile.
Good idea carnivore. I usually use the "water/liquid to the first knuckle" method. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. If liquid is not absorbed then just leave lid off and continue cooking until you don't hear the "crackling" anymore.

Next time try browning a chopped onion is the rice pot, remove the onion; add a little oil and brown the rice; once the rice is brown add the salt, cooked onion, about 7-10 sprigs of fresh thyme, and chicken broth (I use the low sodium because I think it has more flavor). You will LOVE the thyme flavor. My favorite thing to have with this is Chicken Adobo - really, really good.

I think you will find that this rice has a little more flavor. Also, did you see my recipe for Spiced Rice with my Chicken Curry recipe? Now that's some good rice. But if you don't like raisins try some other dried fruit, even cranberries would be good - that sweetness really adds to the taste.
hey Kelf,
i haven't heard of the water to the first knuckle method before--it sounds self-explanatory but would you be willing to elaborate?
Just found the chicken curry recipe--that's on my list as well! (unfortunately my list has grown to 4 pages now, as i have received a plethora of cookbooks within the last month...i can't even find places to store them all :|
Sure, I'll try to explain. I was taught to always rinse the rice 3 times (the water doesn't have to be completely drained each time). Then just add your rice to the pot, say 2 cups, and add enough water so when your fingers touch the bottom of the pan (beneath the rice) the water level comes up to the first knuckle joint of your middle finger.

Now, if I am making a really large batch of rice I will put my fingers on top of the rice (only going slightly below the top though) and then add water to the first joint of my middle finger.

Works like a charm every time. Oh, and that would be water, or chicken broth, or even beef broth.
thanks kitchenelf,
that's kind of what i figured, but i was thinking that the size of the pot could make a huge difference with that measurement (this from a guy who measures ingredients in the palm of his hand ;) )
about what size pot do you normally use when making rice?
sorry for all the questions :oops:
No problem carnivore!!

I use about a 2 quart pot for 2 cups of rice. You don't want the surface to be too large or it will cook the water out too fast, and just the opposite if the pan is too small. If I'm cooking 4 cups of rice I use my 5 quart pot. Dutch ovens have too big a surface so it's usually some form of saucepan.

And cook your rice covered, don't stir it ever, and don't take the lid off. Wait for the 20 minutes, remove the lid, then listen. Test the upper rice, if it's a little crunchy put the lid back on (add a tad more boiling water if necessary) and if it is done but there is still water just let it cook without the lid. Sometimes I test with a knife inserted in the middle so I can look to the bottom of the pan to make sure all the water is gone.

If you ever burn your rice leave the burned part on the bottom and put your rice in a bowl and place some onion peels all over the top. Let it sit covered for maybe 15 minutes???? I can't remember now. But the onion takes away the burned flavor.
tasty rice

I use rice with everything (I swear)....I have a rice cooker. I find when I don't feel in the mood to add spices other ingredients to the rice, I just pour some marinade over the top and mix it in....I've tried lemon, sweet and sour, honey and a few other flavors and they all work well and they're not as salty as soy sauce is. There's lots of flavorful marinades available and they're not just for marinating :shock:
I just recently created a rice dish. It is very flavorful and low in salt if you prefer. I makes a great snack or side dish.

I begin by chopping up a medium onion
Then dicing 2 large carrots
I love garlic, so I use 2 cloves minced

I saute the onion in oil to soften couple min.
then add the garlic and cook for 2 min.
then add 1 cup rice dry and cook for couple min.
I then add 2 cups water and salt to taste.
Cook the rice as usual.
I add the carrots half way through so they come out a bit firm. Adding them along with the water will result in softer carrots.

The onion and garlic really add a good natural flavor. I imagine you could substitute any veggie for the carrots. But it's lowfat, and lowsalt. A great diet dish.
That does look very good, Ferrari! Welcome to the board, by the way! And thank you for the recipe!
i've posted this before under brown rice variations, but it was originally made with yellow spanish rice. he's the original recipe:

jimmy armstrong's savory rice:

1 tsp lawry's seasoned salt
4 bay leaves
2 cloves
5 black peppercorns, crushed
1 cup yellow rice
2 cups of water
1/2 cup freshly steamed peas
a few roasted red pepper strips

in a wide saucepan that has a good covering lid, add the water and the bay leaves, cloves, and black peppercorns. bring to a boil, then turn the heat off and let it cool. add the rice and seasoned salt. bring to a boil again, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover tightly. let cook until all of the water is absorbed. plate and top with the freshly steamed peas and red pepper strips.

a few variations on this are to add minced browned garlic or garlic powder, a few crushed berries of allspice, and a 1/3 cup of browned onions.
Carnivore, here is a rice and lentil dish I make that maybe of interest to you. I have won a BHG contest with this recipe. It's simple, healthy and extremely flavorful.

2 cups of basmati rice - Cook them like you would pasta. So first bring water to a boil, add salt, add rice and cook rapidly and then drain it in a colander when the rice is almost done and reserve
1 cup of lentils - You can make them ahead of time just cook them with a little salt until aldente and reserve
1/4 cup of freshly chopped cilantro
1/4 cup of freshly chopped mint
1 jalapeno finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 tsp of whole cumin seeds
1 medium yellow onions finely sliced
1 cup of peas (frozen are fine)
1 red bell pepper cut into strips
2 tbsp of oil
salt to taste
lots of freshly cracked black pepper

In a large saute pan add the oil. When it's hot add the cumin seeds and allow them to crackle. Next add the onions and cook them until they are golden brown. Follow with the garlic and jalapeno. Next add the red bell pepper and peas and saute for another minute. Next add the lentils, rice, salt and black pepper, mint and cilantro. Stir to combine.

Cover and let it cook on low for atleast 30-40 minutes so the flavors can mingle.

Serve with a simple yogurt raita - Raita is made with plain yogurt to which you can add some chopped onion, tomato, cucumber and grated carrots. Add some salt, pepper and juice of half a lemon or lime. Stir and serve.

I also like to cook rice and lentils and yakutas recipe is a well balanced complete meal.

Here is another recipe for flavoured sweet rice.

2 cups rice (Basmati) washed and drained
2 cups sugar
3-4 cloves
3-4 cardamoms split open
one small stick cinnamon
2 tb sp each of almonds and cashewnuts slivered
3 tb sp raisins
1 tb sp ghee (clarified butter) Unsalted butter can also be used.
1/2 tea spoon saffron strands
2 tb spoon warm milk

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat ghee and add the cloves, cinnamon and cardamoms. stir and cook till they splutter.

add rice and fry for a minute. Then add 4 cups of water. when it comes to a boil reduce heat and cover it. cook till nearly done.

Next add the sugar, raisins, almonds and cashewnuts.-
Mix saffron in warm milk and pour into the rice. Mix well but gently.

Again cover and cook till rice is well done. Rice grains should be separate and not turn mushy.

Serve hot. It has a real tantalising aroma.

sushi!!!!!!!!!!!! i hate rice but love sushi. i think it's the contrast of textures and the vinagered rice.
maybe you'd take well to risotto, too.
Deb's Spanish Rice:

1/2 green pepper
1/2 red pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 small onion
Chop up finely.
Saute in 2 tbs olive oil.
Add 3 cups water
Bring to boil, add:
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp curry
1 pak chicken bouillion or cube
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 cups rice
1 pak Sasson Goya con Culantro y Achiote (seasoning packet)
Bring to boil again, lower heat, cover, cook 20 minutes. Bring heat up and cook additional 15 minutes.
Brazilian Rice

2 cups uncooked rice. 3 tablespoons shortening. 1 onion, thinly sliced. 1 peeled, chopped tomato or 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce. 2 - 2 1/4 cups boiling water. 1 teaspoon salt

Use long grain rice. Melt shortening in medium sized skillet. Use oil, lard, margarine, or bacon fat, but not butter. Fry the rice with onion, gently stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture has a swishing sound. This takes about 10 minutes over a low flame. Add tomato, stir once or twice, remove from heat and pour 2 cups of boiling water which have been mixed with the salt over the fried rice. Stir once or twice and return to heat and bring to a boil. Then cover and reduce heat to very low. Cook 20 or 25 minutes until all water has evaporated. Taste 1 or 2 grains of rice to see if they are cooked. If not, add the other 1/4 cup of boiling water. Do not stir. When rice is done, remove from heat, uncover and allow some of the steam to evaporate. Makes about 6 cups.
...any methods/recipes for cooking good, plain rice that is flavorful but subtle?

The best rice for boiling/steaming is long grain (I generally prefer Basmati) – the short grain (such as Arborio) is the finest in the world for puddings.

Wash the rice under cold water until not a trace of white is left in the water (you’re removing the excess starch). Per half-cup of long-grain rice, you'll need 3 pints of (vigorously) boiling, salted water in a saucepan. Rain in the rinsed rice and boil gently 9-10 minutes (no longer!).

Pour rice into a colander and set it on top of the saucepan holding 1½ cups simmering water. Put a lid on top of the rice and steam for exactly 8 minutes.

Trust me, the rice granules will be separate, fluffy, and delicious. (Indicentally, this rice will also hold well, without become clods of sticky Turkish delight.)

An ideal combination of flavourings for this rice include plumped raisins, lightly toasted slivered almonds, and a pinch of ground cumin.

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