For the Love of Rice

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I love rice. It does not matter if it is brown or white, short grain or long grain, boiled or fried—or puffed! I love the versatility, the taste, and how quick and easy it is to make. I eat rice several times a week and always keep multiple varieties on hand.

And it appears I am not alone. According to data from UNICEF, rice is the most important food crop with regard to human nutrition and caloric intake, providing more than 20% of the calories consumed worldwide by humans.

Rice is the seed from a grass plant, related to other grasses such as wheat, oats, and barley. It completes its entire life cycle within six months, from planting to harvesting. The rice grain is made of three main layers: the hull (or husk), the bran and germ, and the inside kernel (or endosperm).

Once the protective husk is removed, the rice grain becomes what we call brown rice. Because it still contains the rice germ and outer bran layers, brown rice contains more fiber and vitamins than white rice.

Gentle processing removes the germ and bran layers from the grain to expose a white starch center. The polished white starch center is what we know as white rice.

It was hard to pick my favorite rice recipes since rice plays a part in so many wonderful dishes, but these two are very different and great in their own ways. Enjoy!

rice pudding

Scandinavian Rice Pudding with Cinnamon Sugar

This rice pudding makes for a great breakfast and is traditionally served in a bowl with milk and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. It’s easy, fairly quick, and filling enough to be a meal!
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients
2/3 cup of short-grained rice, such as Arborio
1 tsp. kosher salt (I like Diamond Crystal brand)
4 cups whole milk
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. cinnamon sugar (2/3 sugar and
1/3 cinnamon) for sprinkling on top

Instructions
In a thick-bottomed saucepan, stir together the rice, salt, and milk and bring to a boil over medium heat. Be careful because milk has a tendency to bubble over once it starts boiling. Reduce heat to low and simmer until all milk has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Stir often to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. If the rice is not soft and creamy, add a bit more milk. Remove from heat. Add the butter and sugar and stir until the butter has melted and the sugar is incorporated. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and serve warm in a bowl with more milk!

fried rice

Fried Rice with Chicken, Eggs, and Vegetables

Fried rice is best when made with day-old rice. If your rice is coming from the refrigerator, bring it to room temperature before stir-frying it. If you are making the rice the same day, spread it out on a baking sheet to cool for a couple of hours. This recipe works best with a wok.
Stir-frying happens quickly, so be sure to have all ingredients measured out and lined up before you begin.
Servings: 4

Ingredients
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 carrot, peeled and cut into
1/4-inch pieces
4 oz. dark meat chicken, cooked and cut into roughly, 1/2-inch pieces
4 scallions, sliced
4 cups cooked jasmine rice
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup frozen peas

Instructions
Turn your burner to medium-high and heat the wok. In a bowl, whisk eggs lightly with a fork. Add 2 tsp. of the oil to your hot wok. When the oil is rippling, add the eggs and cook, stirring frequently, until most of the egg is non-liquid, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate.

Next, add 1 tsp. oil to the now-empty wok and reduce heat to medium. Add carrot and 1/2 tsp. salt and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Add chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken is warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to the plate with eggs.

Add half of the sliced scallion and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to the wok. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds. Add the rice and stir until combined. Sprinkle pepper and remaining 1 tsp. salt evenly over rice. Continue to cook, stirring frequently while also breaking up clumps, 2 to 5 minutes. Add peas, egg mixture, and remaining scallion, and cook about 2 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

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