Rice- food of the gods
, god of the foods.
Despite the fact that I grew up in a large midwestern city in North America, I ate a lot of rice there and actually taught myself how to cook it at a very early age (somewhere around the time I also taught myself to cook eggs - still two of my favorite foods, and a great combination).
The great thing about rice is that you can buy it in large quantities for a low price and it will keep for a long time - currently a 50 pound sack runs somewhere around eight dollars and can last us for about 2 months.
I always cooked rice in a covered pot with just a small vent between the lid and rim so the pot won't boil over but the steam will not completely escape either. It wasn't until I moved to Asia I discovered the electric rice cooker - a great time saving device, especially if you only have one gas burner and are using that to cook something else. There's nothing better or more satisfying than clicking off the burner and hearing the rice cooker shut off simultaneously and knowing that your meal is ready.
We have experimented with various varieties of rice, the most recent being Thai Jasmine rice. The scent of jasmine is unbelieveable, I could sit there inhaling the steam all day... Recently we've gone back to another variety though and that's Calrose. Calrose is a short grain rice that has a nice smell and flavor. It usually sticks slightly together when cooking, a quality we appreciate in a rice. I'm sure Calrose would make a great risotto if asked. This particular variety was developed on Guam but is currently produced in California. On Guam and the rest of the Marianas chain it is cooked with achiote, a natural seed that dyes the rice orange. Usually it's cooked, in traditional Chamorro method, with garlic, onion and bacon and the above coloring and referred to as 'red rice'. This is consumed in mass quantities at village fiestas, usually with barbequed meat.
Usually when dining out I prefer Japanese or Korean restaurants because I know the quality of their rice is second to none. While not originally rice-producing countries, they have perfected their varieties and cultivation techniques to not a science but an art.
If you're ever in the Philippines, you should do yourself a favor and check out the rice terraces of Banaue, Luzon. They truly are one of the great wonders of the world. Just for some contrast, also visit the miles and miles of seemingly endless rice fields in east Texas.
Here's a recipe I kind of like, it's a Chamorro dish modified by me and it's good any time of the day:
2 large eggs
1 can tuna (preferrably "Century" brand Hot & Spicy, imported from the Philippines and available in most Asian markets; barring that any tuna in oil and a bottle of Tabasco)
1/4 onion, diced
2 tbsp soy sauce
cooked Calrose rice
heat frying pan
spoon tuna and oil into pan, leaving MOST of the oil behind in the can (add Tabasco if necessary)
add diced onion, stir
when the tuna is starting to steam, add 2 eggs and scramble with tuna and onion
as soon as eggs are cooked, transfer to plate on top of cooked rice (timed correctly, rice and egg/tuna should finish simultaneously)
sprinkle liberally with soy sauce and enjoy!
best eaten island style, with spoon in right hand, fork in the left and a can of beer in front!