It may seem like an obvious boring one, but rice really is brilliant. And on it’s own, simple. Simple enough for stomachs and guts which are recovering it seems. And it’s so versatile in it’s uses. Think of how many dishes rice is used in. You have your basic currys, chilli’s, your fried rice, rice pudding, it’s used to make cereal even! You can have it with stir fries, you can put it in omelette’s, you can even make it into soup. And fill it with meat and wrap it with leaves. It’s seriously brilliant. And sushi! How do I forget to mention sushi?
Listing everything made with rice would be insane, because there are soooooooooooo many. So I’m gonna do my top 5, in no particular order, cos putting them in order in a top 5 would be even harder XD
Number 1 – Curry
Luckily curry covers quite a few things I like to eat, katsu curry, a nice Korma, whatever the kind of curry. I usually like the milder ones, or I did in the past, because there were less bits of veg it, but since having katsu curry in Wagamama’s, that’s pretty much my favourite kind of curry sauce. The Chinese variant/version of Japanese curry is also pretty yummy, comes in block form which you add to water and it melts down to become sauce. It’s very convenient, the Japanese Golden Curry blocks can be a little expensive, but tasty, and you can get 3 meals out of it if you’re just cooking for yourself. As a student I often made up the sauce and just had it over rice. Simple tasty meal. Filling too.
Adding potato and carrot chunks, and a meat of your choice is also totally cool. In China I had the katsu curry at the local Japanese restaurants, and in Korean ones too actually… it was yummy, had chunks of potato, carrot, and winter melon, which I despise…. also had chicken or beef depending on which you ordered. I like putting cut up hot dogs in my sauce. Adding cut up hot dogs to ramen is also simple, but yummy XD In China they had curry blocks of a different brand, which you can find in Chinese supermarkets in the UK, and the western name of the company is apparently Vermont. I recognise the packaging here.
Only difference is the kind I bought was in Chinese, not Japanese like here XD You can see the English packaging on this blog. It came in various hotnesses. And flavours. I avoided the apple kinds when I could. Though if you make katsu curry sauce it involved apples and banana’s oddly enough… we tried homemaking it once, was nice, but not like proper katsu curry XD
Number 2 – Chili Con Carne
Chilli con carne I ate loads growing up. My dad makes a reeeeaaaaally nice Chilli with kidney beans and baked beans and stuff. Sooooooooo nice. And we almost always had it with rice. Sometimes in tortilla’s and rice. Occasionally we had it baked fajita style, but most of the time, it was served Chilli on rice with cheese added as you wanted. Like the pic below.
Though my dad’s Chilli isn’t as dry looking as that one, it’s more saucy, more delicious :3. I usually pile my rice on top of the Chilli like a mountain so I can get rice and Chilli in every mouthful. My brothers usually mix it in a giant mess. To each their own I suppose. Specially the one who doesn’t like cheese. Weirdo…
Number 3 – Sushi
Sushi is like…. well it’s awesome. And yes it doesn’t always involve rice(sashimi I spose technically isn’t sushi, but westerners consider it one and the same more or less), BUT sushi rice is not called sushi rice without good reason. Those big bags of Nishiki Sushi grade rice you see in Asian supermarkets are well worth it in my opinion. And in case you didn’t know, the word sushi actually refers to the rice not the fish. I remember finding that out when I was first looking into how to make sushi at home. Below is a selection of the varieties of sushi available. Maki and nigiri are probably my favourites. Though the bigger maki with more ingredients, and the inside iso rolls are also yummy 🙂 My all time favourite piece of sushi is either the tamago nigiri, which is the sweet egg omelette one on rice, OR your basic garden variety tuna maki, or tuna nigiri. Any of the tuna varieties really. Surf clam is also one of my top kinds.
First time I had sushi, I was not a fan. I didn’t like much seafood at all bad then, let alot simple fish. So raw fish was an icky idea to me. Since that first time, I was taken to Yo! Sushi in London by a friend after we’d been to a convention, and got to eat better sushi, and then in China, I got to eat EVEN better sushi at a Teppanyaki place in Dinghai. It was all you can eat for 140 yuan. And we always made good on that. They had great meat stuff and loads of great sushi and sashimi too. First time I had sashimi actually, and raw beef too XD But back to Yo! Sushi for a minute, it may be expensive, but it’s still pretty cool to sit at the conveyor belt and watching all the bright dishes go past you. Check out the PDF menu here. You always grab more plates than you should… I usually end up spending £15+ when I go. It’s kind of a noisy atmosphere, but I like it. Headphones in. Just watching stuff happen. It’s always funny when people new to Yo! Sushi come in, and they look so confused by everything. The process, the food, ordering etc. I almost want to help them, but you don’t randomly start talking to strangers in Norwich… you totally do in Birmingham though. Much friendlier place XD
Number 4 – Rice balls/Onigiri
Rice balls, or onigiri, as the proper Japanese name is, are exactly what it says on the tin. Almost. As they’re usually triangle shaped. You would see them in Pokemon alot, BUT for years I thought they were called donuts, because the bastards at 4kids decided that called rice balls ‘jelly donuts’ was better than just calling them rice balls and avoiding the confusion…
I’d tried making onigiri at home a few times, without the nori, since I didn’t have any. Or any umeboshi(pickled plum), which I only knew of because of Fruits Basket lol. They’re simple enough to make, and fun to eat. You can get pre-packaged onigiri too, which have a full wrapping of nori to make less mess I figure, though nori can crumble and get everywhere too. I had a teriyaki chicken onigiri in Itsu in London once, it was yummy. Also had onigiri from Japanese Centre on one of the various picnic-esque things me and friends or family have done in St James’s park.
Onigiri features alot in bento box lunches in Japan, aswell as quick snacks in general. It can be made in cute shapes too, not just your regular triangle.
I really should make onigiri more. Most of the time when I’ve eaten it, it’s been bought from somewhere. One of the best ongiri I had was a fried variety, with delicious seasoned rice, not sure what seasoning, was teriyaki-esque, but not quite. But it’s crispy on the outside soft on the inside texture was brilliant. This had umeboshi in the middle too. It was soooo filling though. Eating rice at an all you can eat place is usually a waste, but it was so yummy in this case.
Number 5 – Bibimbap
Bibimbap is a Korean dish for those who are unfamiliar with it. Usually served in a bowl, it’s basically a bed of rice with a mix of vegetables(I’ve had it with plain veggies or seasoned ones, called namul) and sometimes meat on top(bulgogi(beef) bibimbap is my favourite), with a spicy gochujang(chilli pepper paste) sauce that you mix altogether.
It’s translation literally is mixed rice. And it comes in a few variations, the most common and well known is probably the hot stone bowl version, dolsot bibimbap, which you have to mix super fast to avoid your rice from burning at the bottom of the bowl lol. Always fun, when your bibimbap arrives at the table you race to grab the spoon and mix like mad. Sometimes you have egg with it too, which fries as you mix, and even after you’ve mixed everything, there’s still a risk of burning to be honest. But it’s still delicious with the chilli pepper paste, it’s hot, but a bit sweet too. It’s the same stuff dukbokki is made with.I’ve only ever eaten the hot stone bowl version, never the normal bowl version, but I’m sure that’s yummy too. I had it in China alot, at the two local Korean restaurants, and then a third opened in the backstreet I took a shortcut down, only went there once, but it was yummy too. Some places pre-fried the egg, others put the raw egg in the bowl with the rest of the ingredients, that was how I preferred it.
With the egg pre-fried. A more western bibimbap definitely, not arranged as neatly as you may see it. Whenever I had it in China, it looked more like this to be honest. ingredients wise more similar too. Though I never had broccoli in bibimbap. Usually carrot, bean sprouts, cucumber, burdock, maybe kimchi or some green veggie, all Julienned.
And this is what bibimbap looks like after you’ve mixed everything together. A mish mash of ingredients. A misleading appearance considering it’s sooooooooooooo yummy. Seriously. Somehow the chilli pepper paste sauce mixed with the rice and veg and egg and/or meat is delicious. It’s just a mix up of things. But it works. Simple pleasures I spose.
So there you have 5 of my favourite rice based dishes. I could have thought of more….. paella, rice pudding, porridge, donburi, even omurice. Yes, alot of these things have Asian influences, so sue me, they eat alot of rice in Asia. Of course alot of the food made with rice is gonna be Asian XD And so very yummy….