Friday, August 1, 2014

A way with rice

I love rice. I like a good rice preparation with flavors and additions and all, but I also just love good steamed (salted) rice. A lot of this stems from the memory of the rice of my childhood, a rice which I have chased but not been able to find since. We lived in Southern California, in an area with a majority Korean population, and adjacent to an area called "Little India." Mom would buy jasmine rice from the markets and steam it for breakfast or cook it in a very simple pilaf-style (quick saute in fat till opaque first). The rice must have been exceptionally good and exceptionally fresh. It smelled heavenly... the name 'jasmine' seemed so obvious for it. In all the years since, I've been buying jasmine rice, opening the package with eager anticipation, breathing in deeply, and ... being disappointed. And the flavor of that childhood rice! A lot of rice is flavorless, but it doesn't have to be. This rice tasted almost sweet and just so... ricey. It was a pauper's breakfast, but I loved it. We would have a bowl of cinnamon-sugar on the table, and I would sprinkle it on some times, but thought the rice had enough flavor on its own.

Well, no news about finding that rice. I think I would have to actually go back to Cerritos... and hope.

But we tried a new rice preparation recently... simply steaming jasmine rice in coconut water instead of water. Remember to use plenty of salt. We didn't tell Dad what we had done because he does not like coconut. When I indicated that something had been done differently as regards the rice, he asked if it was trying to achieve that California rice flavor. Well, that hadn't occurred to me, but when he put it in my mind, I thought, well... "yes, this does get it a little closer." It replicates that slight, natural sweetness and a hint of nuttiness.

Mom said, if she did it again, she'd probably dilute the coconut water somewhat. I do not find it to be too 'sweet,'  however. I find the effect subtle and natural, although diluting would be fine too. In fact, when I did it again (undiluted) and fed it to the family, I didn't tell anyone and no one noticed, at least consciously. What did happen is the rice got devoured.

I think this idea came to us from the Parade Magazine Sunday newspaper supplement.


Unknown said...

My mom's friend (who once lived in Korea; I don't know if that has anything to do with it since coconut isn't really an ingredient I encounter very often in Korean food) told me to do this. It's such a great way to eat rice. Sometimes I just add cashews and cilantro and eat it as a meal when I'm feeling lazy.

Rebekka said...

Actually, I have encountered the idea a few times since now, and always in the context of Korean flavors. Hmm! Thanks for your serving suggestion... this sounds delightful to me. Maybe some scallions; maybe some shreds of sesame roasted nori on top; maybe some fried shallots (the kind you get at the Asian market)... endless possibilities.

Melissa said...

The Joy has a recipe for this consisting of 1 cup water, 1 cup canned sweetened coconut milk, 1 cup jasmine rice, 1 thin slice of peeled ginger and 3/4 tsp salt. Top with shredded toasted coconut.

Rebekka said...

Sounds YUM! I will have to do that.