29 September 2008

Rice

I didn't eat much rice growing up. My parents are from the midwest, and rice was a little . . . exotic. We were more about the bread and the noodles. I ate more rice once I left home and when I was living in various locations around the globe, but it was never a staple for me.

Then I married an Asian man, which took my rice consumption to a whole new level. We had the ubiquitous Zojirushi rice cooker on the counter, and hot white rice was always available for eating at our house. I grew to really love rice. It's so comforting. Whenever I had one of those vague "I'm not sure what I want to eat but I want to eat something" kinds of cravings, I could always satisfy it with rice. 

John was totally grossed out by my two favorite ways to eat rice. Method #1 is a big bowl of rice topped with steamed broccoli, soy sauce, and gochugang or  siracha (also known as "cock sauce" at our house). Method #2 is Rice Goes Western, in which I mix my rice with copious amounts of grated cheese (any kind will do) and fresh black pepper. It's like instant mac'n'cheese, only . . . better somehow.

When John died, I put the rice cooker away. The twins have never been big fans of rice (probably in part because I stopped cooking it very often), and I fell into the White Rice is Evil! trap. When I did make rice, I would make brown rice on the stove top; I could never get the rice cooker to turn out decent brown rice. John hated brown rice; he probably hexed the rice cooker to keep me from feeding our children the bad stuff once he was gone.

Sometimes, though, only white rice will do. When I made that sake-steamed sea bass on Saturday, I had to serve white rice with it. It was so good. I snacked on it all day Sunday, and the kids ate some, too. Yum, yum, and yum. I didn't realize how much I'd missed it. I think I'm going to leave the rice cooker out on the counter for a while.

35 comments:

WendyB said...

I don't believe for a second that white rice is evil. It's too good!

Susan said...

Snick - I LOVE white rice. How bad is it really for you....carbs?? I love hot white rice with butter and salt and pepper. You are so right, totally comforting :) Also, is getting a rice cooker so much easier than just cooking it on the stove which takes about 20-25 minutes? I don't care for instant rice. I have thought about getting a rice cooker, a small one since it is really me and only one son that enjoys it!! I wish I liked fish because your recent receipe sounds good.

SEC

beyond said...

mmmh... i love rice too (though, like you i usually make brown or wild). i was well into my twenties when i finally learned how to cook rice without completely ruining it. i still find it more challenging to make perfect rice than the other carbs.

Sarah said...

I use a rice cooker to cook all kinds of rice - brown, white, boxed with flavoring added, etc. etc.

This is mostly because I fail at making rice on the stove. It just never sets properly, no matter how much I fuss with the amount of water.

Heather said...

I've never bothered with a rice cooker -- I'm one of those weirdos that always boils the rice on the stove. But then, I grew up with it as a staple (it's cheap, you know), so I've had a lot of experience. We eat white rice probably 3-4 times a week, so I sure hope it's not bad. I love it with fish, especially, but GB makes it with chicken and BBQ sauce, which works surprisingly well. Otherwise, we have rice everytime I make Chinese or Indian food, which is pretty often.

Now I might just have to try your rice-n-cheese thingy for lunch today.

Parisienne Mais Presque said...

When I met my French husband, I learned all about bread. Gone was the white bread "pain de mie" from my childhood, in was the daily baguette. Just whose job it is to swing by the bakery and pick it up on any given night is a very important end-of-day negotiation.

I think it's fascinating how meeting and falling in love with someone changes your culinary instincts.

When he's out of town, though, I often (gasp) skip the baguette and just make a big ol' bowl of pasta or something and feel like a rebel. But even at 14 months, my toddler is definitely more French about it than I am. Baguette crust is the ultimate teething object, and he often refuses to eat without a gummed-up fistful of bread in each hand.

The French are miserable at making rice, though, and I am too, I'm ashamed to admit. Here, we just dump it in ten times its volume of water and boil the heck out of it.

ann ominous said...

i thought i was the only one who ate rice with broccoli, soy and siracha!!! it's awesome!

Rev Dr Mom said...

I grew up with rice because my mother was a coastal Carolina girl--rice with almost everything. It was much more of a rare treat to get potatoes-especially mashed potatoes, which I still love.

We ate rice and gravy--with roast beef, with "country fried steak"--almost any kind of meat, except oddly enough we never had that thick white-ish gravy served in "southern style" restaurants, and we never had gravy with fried chicken. We had rice with chili and with soup. Still like that. Tomato pilau (pronounced perlo by my mother)--rice cooked with tomatoes, onions, a little bacon--making me hungry now.

We ate long-grained white rice which was not supposed to be sticky. Now that my daughter has lived in Korea (and even before that when she started eating a lot of Asian food) she doesn't like my kind of rice anymore.

I have to say that cooking rice is so easy that I've never understood the attraction of a rice cooker--one more thing to take up space:) But what do I know?

Rev Dr Mom said...

And your two ways of eating rice sound really good to me.

Giovanna Diaries said...

I Luuuuuuv rice. I use to have rice on an almost daily basis. Love Rice & Broccoli, Rice & Spinach.....I add cheese while I cook it so it tastes alot like Risotto! Now I want rice!

Tana said...

We call it cock sauce too! tee-hee.

Catizhere said...

When I was a kid, I didn't like rice. We had rice aalll the time. (It's cheap & there were 8 kids)
My sainted Mother (8.freakin.kids.)used to serve it to us with a little butter, sugar, cinnamin and a touch of milk. Sort of a rice pudding or even oatmeal....ricemeal?

Now, I like rice. White, saffron, wild & brown, those bags of rice & cheese sauce, even my kids eat it.
I still boil water & cook it on the stovetop, never tried a rice-cooker.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in the Midwest too and we hardly ever had rice and when we did it was for breakfast with milk,sugar and cinnamon.

OTRgirl said...

We found brown rice at the Korean market. It's the same short-grain, stickier rice, just not transformed to white rice. Works fine in the rice cooker, just add a little extra water and give it extra time to cook. Sometimes we add wild rice and turn the whole batch purple. Makes very pretty kim bap.

delicateflower said...

My favorite comfort food from childhood is a big bowl of very hot white rice, with a raw egg mixed in (the egg gets cooked form the hot rice). Eat with a bit of soy sauce and kim. I still eat it on days I feel glum.

jane said...

i love mixing rice with really well-done scrambled eggs (cooked in butter), a little soy sauce, sesame oil, black pepper, a dash of tabasco sauce and sesame seeds sprinkled on top - SO GOOD! another fav is a bowl of white rice topped with an egg (cooked over-easy) with gochujang and seaweed. can you tell i love eggs? haha

Chris said...

I was raised in Marblehead, Mass. so rice was a very infrequent dish in our home. My mother used Minute Rice. When I try to describe to my Singaporean Chinese husband what Minute Rice is, words fail me.

When I lived in the Bronx I learned how to make Puerto Rican Rice and Beans, which is really good and quite a filler if you need something with carbs and protein and don't have any meat or fish to hand.

When I moved to London and got my first Chinese boyfriend, he brought a rice cooker with him from Singapore, as they were hella expensive here at the time. It broke down, and we inherited a second rice cooker from a Thai flatmate that we still use. I wouldn't cook white rice without it. It's no good for brown or wild rice, tho; I still use the stovetop for those.

My comfort rice dish is Curried Rice. You need leftover white rice for this (it's not really very good with brown rice). Melt some butter in a saucepan, then when it begins to bubble add about a teaspoon of curry powder. Stir it around to cook for a short while, then drop in one onion, diced or coarsely cut, your choice. Sauté the onion until it's getting translucent. Dump in as much cold white rice as you want, and break it up in the saucepan and make sure most of it gets coated with the butter/curry powder mixture.

Serve and enjoy. You can put some garlic in before the onion, if you like. If you're really lavish, add some chopped celery and green pepper.

Single Parent Dad said...

Rice cooker? Might have to invest in one of those bad-boys, I've never been able to master cooking the grain.

And your methods of eating rice read great to me. Will have to give them a go.

Anonymous said...

I only got a rice cooker about a year ago. Dont know how I usrvived without one!!! cook lots of rice, but also a macaroni cheese, which with a 2 year old if fantastic as you pop the macaroni in the pot and it cooks itself while you make playdough cookies or mud pies in the garden...

sfhurt said...

@Susan - re: whether the rice cooker is worth it? I think it absolutely is! I never heard of using one until I got married - Mom always just cooked it on the stove. But my husband had one, and man is it way easier. I always ended up with either soggy rice or "rice krispies" because I couldn't seem to get it right - too much stirring or not enough, or I didn't take it off the heat at the exact right moment. I guess it was just beyond me. Now I dump everything in the cooker, press the button, and it's done perfectly every time. Wow, I sound like a commercial, but that's just how it is sometimes. :)

Meggan said...

Had to comment and say that we call it "cock sauce" in our household too. Hee!

I grew up eating rice as a side dish (with a meat + vegetable-type dinner), but I always mixed it with butter and then poured copious amounts of plain sugar on top. No cinnamon or anything. I am told that this is weird.

Crash Course Widow said...

I have a lot of those things, like the rice and your rice cooker, that I symbolically put away after Charley died: cooking in general, cooking "our" favorite or regular dishes, some restaurants or cuisines we went to regularly, pastimes we enjoyed together. It's been long enough now that I, too, will do one of those things by accident or without much forethought, and now I'm surprised and warmly reminded how much pleasure I now I get from them. It no longer hurts as much or in the same way to do them now...and I'm deeply grateful for the change.

Here's to white rice and the rice cooker! And for me, to Thai food, and pasta dishes, and maybe, maybe someday being able to watch The Lord of the Rings trilogy without it being painful.

Hugs!
Candice

PS--And you can either pat yourself on the back or else blame yourself: I finally gave in and signed back up for eHarmony again. You and your darned Mr. Coffee. ;O) (Okay, and the other Mr. Coffees my other widowed friends have found on eHarmoney in the last several months. Curse all of you. ;o))

Snickollet said...

Susan and others:

Re: the evils of white rice, it's more that it's just filler with no real nutritional value. But hey, we all need full bellies and some carbs, right?

CCW:

Congrats on re-upping with eHarmony! May you find your own Mr. Coffee.

Anyone who was wondering if rice cookers are worth buying:
Here's the (energy inefficient) thing: You put in the rice and water, you turn the thing on, and about 15 min. later, you have perfectly cooked rice. You don't have to check on it. You don't have to remember to turn it off. And if you don't want to eat it right away, it just hangs out there, ready to eat when you want it, staying perfectly lovely for a good 24 hours. It's really kind of beautiful.

-snick

Anonymous said...

My husband is a big rice fan. His mom is from Colombia, and he grew up in a Mexican neighbourhood where everything included rice.

I, on the other hand, hate rice. When I grew up, we only had overcooked white rice with soy sauce. Yuck. Not even my husband could change my mind about rice.

Rhonda said...

Did you know that you can use that same rice cooker to make the best oatmeal ever using steel cut oats. Add your oats, water, and dried fruit for sweetness. Cook on the porridge setting. Use the timer to wake up to a yummy breakfast. If you like milk in your oatmeal, or even cream if your feeling decadent, just add some ice cubes to keep it cool until the cook cycle begins. YUMMY!

melanie ajumma said...

Did John and/or your mother in law teach you how to make rice "the right way"? I learned before I met my husband, (thank goodness) and I'm happy to say that my rice passed the test.

Another way to make the white rice a healthier option is to mix it dry with brown sticky rice, called "hyun mi ssal" and barley and maybe even a few other grains and beans. Then cook it all together with a bit more water. It's delicious and nutritious. You should have a setting on your rice cooker for brown rice, it cooks slightly longer.

Meika said...

After two years in Japan, my affection for rice grew into a full-fledged loooooove.

And then, a few weeks ago, we discovered that our Japan-born toddler is - guess what? - *allergic* to *rice.*

We've been eating a lot of ghastly frozen burritos lately because rice was my only standby for a quick meal!

Anonymous said...

We call it 'cock sauce' too!!!!!

amber said...

i didn't really grow up with rice either, but i learned to really enjoy it in college.

it's not the proper way to eat it, but plain rice with soy sauce on top is just so yummy.

Pauli said...

Yeah, I can't get brown rice to cook in our rice cooker, either. It always burns on the bottom, no matter how much extra water I put in. And John wasn't much help, since he shuddered at the thought of brown rice, as you mentioned. =)I'm glad you're getting back into rice, though. I love the smell of it as it's cooking, especially jasmine or basmati. One of our favorite rice dishes is black beans and rice...easy and healthy. Let me know if you want the recipe!

Fairlington Blade said...

There's a great discussion of rice cookers and bitch rice in Julie and Julia. The discussion of rice cookers evidently ignited a flame war on her blog. Me, I echo the love for rice cookers. I got the strong desire to get one once I started making sushi.

A good rice cooker is a thing of beauty. Ours is a Sanyo-about $100 courtesy of Costco. Once you have one, you don't go back.

BB

Fairlington Blade said...

Warning to all: If you have small children and a great rice cooker, put it OUT OF REACH. Sadly, my lovely Sanyo rice cooker now has a gaping hole in it due to T grabbing for it (toddlers love buttons) and dumping it on the floor. Still functional as far as I know, just not as pretty.

Anonymous said...

zojirushi rice cooker... we have one too. and we also call it "cock sauce" only I married an English man, so go figure.

Sue at eLuckypacket said...

Ha ha - we call it cock sauce too!

Anonymous said...

why not go to China and eat rice with mice?