Rice sustains almost half the world’s population. That’s why we’re so lucky that it’s delicious. Try out some of our favorite rice recipes.
Rice is one of the most important food crops in the world. It’s the staple crop for more than half of the world’s population: 3.5 billion people around the world rely on rice to supply more than 20% of their calories every day. Even though the west is a relatively minor consumer of rice, the crop’s global importance really can’t be underestimated—we humans rely on rice.
It’s very lucky, then, that rice is delicious. It’s also incredibly versatile, able to be used in a ton of very different applications. From fried treats to smooth, creamy risottos and from fried rice to rice wine, rice is one of the most versatile grains around. Only wheat rivals its utility for disparate applications.
We’ve assembled some of our favorite rice recipes to demonstrate the length and breadth of what rice is capable of. Use your imagination! Can you think of a rice application we left out?
Vegetarian Thai-style fried rice recipe
Fried rice is one of the heroes of delivery food. Sometimes, there’s just nothing better than digging into a steaming plate of shrimp fried rice, salty with soy sauce and rich with those tiny cubes of ham. It’s the perfect food for sitting on the couch in front of an action movie. This recipe, however, is not that—this thai-style fried rice recipe is surprisingly refined, an elegant, light synergy of flavors and colors that combine to create something much greater than the sum of its parts. Delicately spiced with ginger and garlic, to really get the Thai flavors going, make sure you serve it with extra lime.
Forest mushroom risotto recipe
A nicely made risotto is a singular pleasure. Perfectly cooked risotto rice retains a bit of its bite, saving risotto from a mushy purgatory. And there’s nothing more classic than a mushroom risotto (except perhaps a saffron one, but that’s for another list). In this one, funky forest mushrooms permeate this risotto with their earthy flavor. Feel free to substitute any mushrooms that are available—any kinds of wild mushroom will do. You can also substitute rehydrated dried mushrooms in a pinch, to be honest, even regular button mushrooms will do if you’re feeling desperate. Just make sure you don’t forget the white wine!
Pumpkin and prawn risotto recipe
Now that you’ve mastered simple risotto, it’s time to more advanced applications. Pumpkin and prawn may seem like an odd pairing, but it works amazingly well. Some pro tips for this recipe: cook the prawn shells in your vegetable stock for a while before starting. Prawn shells are full of flavor that would otherwise just go straight into the trash, and poaching the shells in the stock will allow you to add all that briny deliciousness back where it belongs—in your risotto. The other tip is to wait until the last minute possible to add the prawns, because no one wants overcooked shrimp. Even if you only add them in the last few seconds, the carryover heat in the risotto will be enough to cook them to perfect doneness in a minute or two. Though this pumpkin and prawn risotto recipe is somewhat more effort than a normal risotto, it’s worth every minute.
Arancini—fried Italian rice balls recipe
By now, you should be positively swimming in leftover risotto. If not, please return to recipes two and three on this list. Okay, now that that’s sorted, let’s talk about arancini. Arancini are risotto dumplings stuffed with cheese and ham and then deep fried. They were invented to use up old leftover risotto, but now have become a beloved part of Italian food culture, especially in the south. This recipe also details how to make the risotto, but if you happen to have leftover risotto, it will work even better. As the risotto cools, the starches thicken, making forming it into the dumplings a piece of cake. After frying, the breadcrumbs covering the outside are deliciously crispy, while the fresh mozzarella cheese inside (use buffalo mozzarella for even more flavor) is delightfully melted and stretchy. So the next time you have some leftover risotto, try making this fantastic arancini recipe. We guarantee you are going to love it.
Makgeolli rice wine recipe
So we’ve made fried rice, risotto, arancini… and we’re just touching the surface of what rice is capable here. To better showcase the true versatility of rice, we’re going to show you how to drink it! Makgeolli is a type of Korean rice wine. Essentially, this rice is made into a slurry and started with a Korean fermentation starter called “nuruk.” Leave it be for a few days and you’re treated to a slightly fizzy, funky, and a bit sour version of rice wine. Try out this homemade makgeolli rice wine recipe the next time you’re in for a bit of fermentation experimentation.