My step-mom was born and raised in rural Thailand. That means she grew up in the heart of rice culture. When Tippy wasn’t in school, she was involved, one way or another, with the family’s rice paddy. Not only could Tippy grow rice, she was very adept at preparing it for meals.
Tippy had two favorite varieties of rice that were always on hand. High glutenous Thai rice and Jasmine rice. One or the other provided the base for heavenly tasting dishes. I vividly remember the 50 pound bags of Jasmine rice she always kept on hand.
Sometimes Tippy experimented with other fragrant varieties of the grain like Ambemohar rice from India that has an aroma very similar to mango blossoms. I only
remember her using Basmati rice a couple of times. This happened because she couldn’t drive to the Asian grocery store in Sioux City, Iowa due to a blizzard.
Even though Tippy preferred to use a standard electric rice cooker, I’ve never had good luck with the brand she used. Instead, I like to use a large saucepan with a tight fitting lid on my old electric range.
These days, I prepare plenty of rice to ensure that there will be enough left over to use later for fried rice. For the best rice, I make sure to use exact measurements and follow the package directions to the letter.
In a pinch, if you’re using regular supermarket white rice, a good rule of thumb is to use two cups of water for each cup of uncooked rice. I use a dash of salt for each cup of dry rice and sometimes I’ll include a tablespoon of coconut oil or olive oil for certain recipes.
Before cooking, be sure to rinse the rice in a strainer or wire screen colander to make sure any stray particles are removed. Bring the water to a “rolling” boil, then stir in the salt and optional oil, stir in the rice, then turn down the heat to low and cover the pan. Resist the temptation to lift the lid during cooking. Don’t stir the rice while it’s cooking unless you are specifically preparing sticky rice for a particular Asian recipe.
I simmer white rice for around 25-minutes and brown rice for about 45-minutes. If it’s not quite done, I give it a quick stir, then replace the lid and simmer for 5 or 10-minutes longer. When the rice is done to your preference, remove the pan from the heat and take off the lid for a few minutes, then fluff it with a spoon or fork and enjoy. Ranges and cook-ware vary, so adjust cooking times accordingly.
Tippy and her cousin, Waan, had a friendly rivalry as to who could prepare the best fried rice. Both women’s methods yielded absolutely amazing results. However, I eventually adopted the cousin’s technique because it’s somewhat easier to prepare. Both women stressed that it is important to use refrigerated rice and it’s best to be left over from at least one previous day.
Waan’s Super Spiffy Fried Rice
Ingredients for each serving:
a cup of cold, leftover rice
a tablespoon of seasoned Wok oil or regular cooking oil.
a cup of chopped vegetables, your choice
some teriyaki sauce or tamari, your choice
a dash of chili sauce (any variety)
a splash or three of sesame oil (optional)
some chopped peanuts and/or almonds (optional)
In a medium hot wok or large skillet, coat the surface with the oil. Add the rice and spread it out. Break the egg over the rice and mix it together and fry the combination until everything is hot and the egg is almost done.
Push the rice mixture to the side of the wok or remove it from the skillet. Then add a little more oil and your chopped vegetables. (If you use frozen, be sure to defrost them in the microwave oven, first.) Pour in the teriyaki sauce and a little chili sauce then stir-fry the veggies until they’re piping hot.
Add the sesame oil and stir again. (Don’t add the sesame oil too soon, because it is a fragile oil and should be treated as a condiment.) Bring the rice-egg portion from the side and blend everything together into one mixture. Stir fry for another minute or so. Scoop it onto a plate, sprinkle on the chopped nuts, then serve immediately.
These are just a couple of ways you can celebrate National Rice Month. Of course, you probably have your own favorite rice dishes. Now is the time to prepare them.