Volume 3 Issue 9
January 2000
Wild About Rice

    Rice always seems so simple and ordinary and simple to most Americans like myself.  But when I talk to my friend,  who is asian,  one never talks about how rice tastes or what you can do with rice in the kitchen.  She says  things like,  how can you eat without rice or who will put the rice on your table, ie. who brings home the bacon.  Rice takes on a whole new meaning,  one in which a culture older than any on earth revolves around.

When I moved,  before anything was moved into the apartment,  she said,  where is your rice?  I thought I wasn't hearing right and she said,  before you move anything into a new home,  the rice and salt must go first or the balance of the house will never be correct.

        In a chinese house the rice is always washed,  rinsed five or six times until the water is clear  and in some  traditional provinces,  the water from this is saved and used to wash the wok.  The rice starched water degreases the wok and keeps it from rusting avoiding the necessity of re-seasoning the wok. The rice water in the Philippines has also been used as a whitening agent for laundry in days not very long ago. The water for cooking the rice is never measured in a cup,  with the rice in the pot and your finger resting on top of the rice,  add wter to the first crease of the finger and that's it. And in a pinch,  rice can be formed into a paste to make a glue that rivals Elmer's.

Rice has traveled the world and although not as mythologized as it is in Asia,  it's use in the cuisines of the world is at the top of the food chain.  Risotto from Italy,  Paella from Spain,  and America where the perfect rice is considered to be that in  which each grain is separate and fluffy after cooking as opposed to asian rice which needs to be starchy and stuck together so as to be able to be eaten with chop sticks or formed into balls and eaten with hands.


This Philipinno sweet rice is simple to make and  will disappear before you can blink and turn around.  A wonderful treat or dessert.


. 2C malagkit ( rice )
. 2C brown sugar
  2 cans coconut cream
  2 C water

1.  Cook the rice until water is absorbed
2.  In a separate pot, begin to caramelize brown sugar and add the coconut cream
3.  Reserve3/4 C of this mixture
4.  Add rice to brown sugar and  coconut in pot
5.  Cook until rice is very tender
6.  Spread on a sheetpan


1C monggo (mung beans ),  boiled, drained and mashed
3/4C of reservered brown sugar and coconut cream

1.  Boil the monggo, drain  and mash
2.  Add all ingredients to heavy saucepan on low heat
3.  Stir constantly until thick
4.  Spread on top of rice and flash under broiler until brown.


The most wonderful thing about risotto is that the main flavor ingredients are endless.  You can make a seafood risotto with shrimp.  You can make a vegetarian risotto with vegetable stock and squash or any veggie of your desire. Wild mushroom risotto......Safron risotto.... and on  and on. No doubt about it,  risotto will be the jewel of the meal. 

Basic Risotto

3T extra virgin olive oil
1C minced onions
2.5C Arborio Rice
1/2 C white wine
6C hot, simmering chicken stock
4T unsalted butter
1/2C parmigiano-reggiano cheese
salt and pepper

1.  Heat the oil in a wide pot
2.  Saute the onions and shallots
3.  Add rice & stir to coat with the oil
4.  Add wine,  cook till evaporated
5.  Add 1/2 C hot stock,  stirring until stock is absorbed
6.  Continue adding stock just as above  until finished
7.  When rice is creamy but al dente,  add butter,  stirring one small piece at a time
8.  Adjust seasoning 
9.  Stir in cheese off the fire


The national dish of Spain.  And much like risotto,  the added ingredient determines the name of the paella.  Simple ,  huh?  In Spain there is rabbit paella,  a squid ink paella,  and of course,  Paella de Valencia.

Paella a la Valenciana - 14 " paella pan

       The one we all think of when we hear paella . 

       The Stock 

       5 ½ C fish stock
       ½ C white wine
       1 t saffron


       1 ½ # lobster shelled , cut into pieces . You can leave
       claws whole for presentation if you like . 
       20 mussels cleaned
       ½ # medium shrimp cleaned
       1 # squid cleaned and cut into ½ inch rings
       1 # monkfish cut into one inch pieces
       ½ C olive oil
       3 tomatoes grated , discard skin
       12 cloves garlic , 6 minced , 6 finely sliced
       2 t paprika 
       1 T roughly chopped parsley
       3 C paella rice
       ½ C peas
       2 roasted red peppers , peeled , cut into ½ inch strips
       1 medium spanish onion medium dice

       Preheat the oven to 375 and bring the stock to a simmer . Heat the oil in paella pan and sear the lobster 1
       min. season . Remove . Cook monkfish , shrimp , season , 2 minutes and remove . Cook onion , garlic , add
       paprika , 3 - 4 min. Add tomato and rice stir to coat . Add the fish stock and stir frequently . After 10 min. ,
       add peas , parsley , shrimp , and monkfish . Arrange mussels , lobster claws and roasted peppers . Place in
       oven 10 min.

       Do not overcook the rice . If it is crunchy but close , remove from oven and allow to finish cooking outside .
       Brush outer garnishes lightly with olive oil if they appear a bit dry . There should be very little liquid left , drain
       if necessary.