Returning home to an almost-bare fridge after a long holiday can be quite frustrating. With bad weather and cold rainy winds outside this afternoon; I decided it would be a better idea to just work with what I have and go out for groceries when the weather is less depressing. Rice seemed like a good idea.
I love working with rice as it can be topped with almost any type of meat/vegetable in a range of different flavours; from Indian, Malay, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean...just to name a few. I decided on a combination of Chinese and Japanese for lunch. I marinated a couple of chicken thigh fillets in Japanese soy+ginger seasoning, grilled them and reserved the liquid from the roasting pan and marinade to create a sauce. The grilled chicken pieces were deliciously paired with the Chinese flavours from the rice.
Plain white rice can get a little bland and boring after awhile...and that's where the idea of fried-rice comes in handy! LOL. However; there is another simpler way to add some pizzazz to these little white grains for an extra kick = Spiced Rice.
When I say SPICEd...I mean spice-in rice. Yep; it's as simple as it sounds! Cook rice as usual and add a little something extra to the liquid to give it a burst of flavour. I sometimes substitute 1/2 of the water in the rice for liquid vegetable/meat stock where possible. Here's some ideas to get the ball rolling. Give the seasoning ingredients a good stir in the rice pot or sweat them in a little oil on a saucepan before adding to the rice in the cooker/microwave if you have time.
Long Grain riceJust remember to go easy on the proportions for stronger spices and add a little salt and pepper if you must. Although it can be tempting to create a robustly flavoured pot of rice by adding large heaped spoonfuls of spices; remember that the intensity of flavours from the rice needs to harmonize with the condiments its being served with and please don't try to kill the natural tantalizing fragrance of freshly cooked rice. LOL! If you have other suggestions on spice mixtures; I would love to hear about them.
Thai: Lemon grass, chopped birds eye chilies, fish sauce, seafood stock, kaffir lime leaves
Chinese: Chopped fresh ginger, garlic, shallots, sesame oil, chicken stock, bay leaves
Mexican: Japaleno peppers diced, tomato puree, paprika, beef/chicken stock, cumin, garlic
Middle eastern: olive oil, beef stock, cinnamon, nutmeg, pine nuts, blanched almond flakes
Japanese: ginger slices, sushi vinegar, mirin
Italian 'Risotto': garlic, onions, vegetable stock, button mushrooms, parsley, cilantro
Indian: star anise, sliced onions, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, coconut milk
Malay: cinnamon stick, cloves, shallots, tumeric, tomato puree, chilli powder, coconut milk