Why do people think rice is boring? Sure, it’s just carb. It’s a cheap grain. It doesn’t have a strong taste (it HAS a taste). But it’s so good! It’s comforting, it’s what I eat when I don’t feel like eating anything else or when I’m sick. Rice is awesome.
There are so many ways to enjoy rice, without the main course or side dishes. And I’m not even talking about the painstaking risotto – which is also supposed to be enjoyed as is without too many garnishes. Sure, it can be a bit overwhelming if you serve it the way my host family did: make a mini mountain of rice in the bowl, and have 2 of those for dinner. Now that I think about it, rice may be the culprit for my 8 pound weight gain in Japan, and not the matcha ice cream bar I had after dinner every night.
A few ways you can enjoy a simple bowl of rice without cooking protein or veggie dish:
(cooking time: 2 minutes…? Wait there’s no cooking involved…)
– Rice with chà bông on top. Chà bông, or pork floss in English (the fuck is this odd name?), or pork sung in Chinese-English. It’s shredded dried fluffy pork. Simple, and so comforting.
– Rice with seasoned nametake mushroom (usually in a small tall bottle/jar you can get at the Japanese market; it looks like enoki – I think they’re the same actually, but nametake is yellow/brown & wild, apparently). The jar looks like this, in case you don’t read hiragana:
– Rice with roasted seaweed (nori).
– Really really hot rice mixed with raw eggs 🙂 & soy sauce.
– Of course, rice with Japanese rice seasonings!
– Rice with soy sauce (my boyfriend’s brother’s favorite. He DRINKS the soy sauce…ok that’s not true but he might as well).
– A surprising hit with my American friends: rice with a mixture of toasted sesame seeds, and equal parts of sugar and salt. That’s the mixture we use to top yuca, but I’ve heard people do it with rice too, back in the old days, when nothing was available…
– Rice with kimchi.
– Rice with toasted & salted peanuts.
– Ochazuke! To be honest, I was sort of weirded out the first time my host parents made it for me – rice, in lukewarm tea? Topped with laver/seaweed? Hmmm…~ well, it grew on me. It’s comforting and light, for sure.
– Rice with tsukemono, umeboshi or Vietnamese pickled stuff (pickled daikon, carrots, etc.) or Korean pickled stuff.
– Rice with miso paste – you can mix it with gochujang (Korean pepper & soy paste), sesame oil, etc.
– Rice with scallion oil – chopped scallion and mix it with oil of your choice!
There you go! So next time if you’re in a bind or just want to enjoy rice, try these “recipes”! I’d happily eat rice as it is any day. Ummm…onigiri…
**P.S: another thing I’ve tried and quite liked, although a bit more labor intensive than just putting pickles on top of rice: chopped up cilantro and tomatillo, mixed with fish sauce and vinegar (and tiny bits of sugar if you like) into a loose sauce/salsa of sorts, and mixed in with rice. Really delicious.