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Jul 8, 2007 08:08 AM

Favorite national/ethinc rice dishes

Since rice is eaten in every corner of the world I'm curious to know what are the dishes containing rice that one could say are emblematic of a particular nation's or ethnic group's cuisine. For example I put forth rice and beans as an African-American staple and cabbage rolls as representative for a number of Central and East European countries. The amount of rice used, whether it constitutes the bulk of a dish or is a lesser element, doesn't matter.

So, how nice is rice around the globe?

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  1. 1. Sticky rice in NE Thailand & Laos (my favorite)
    2. Hot gohan (from Japonica rice) in Japan (second favorite)
    3. Rice and beans in Central America, parts of South America
    4. Par-boiled rice (no, not Uncle Ben's) in Bangladesh & parts of India
    5. Aromatic Jasmine in Central Thailand & aromatic basmati in India
    6. Arborio rices for risottos in Italy
    7. Modern "Green revolution" high yielding rices in most of South and SE Asia, Africa, and Latin America (the most widespread and important in terms of consumption).
    8. New hybrid rices in China (the only place where hybrids are successfully being produced on a large scale).

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

      Since Sam covered most of the world's consumption of rice, I'll offer this tidbit of information......
      The following is a quote from:

      "Just over 9,000 farms produce rice in the United States. Those farms are concentrated in six states: Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas. U.S. rice production accounts for just over 1% of the world’s total, but this country is the second leading rice exporter with 18% of the world market.

      About 60% of the rice consumed in the U.S. is for direct food use; another 20% goes into processed foods, and most of the rest into beer."

    2. I love biryani (Indian).
      Jambalaya too.

      Heck, if it involves rice, I like it.

      1. In Finnish cuisine, I'd say that the best rice dish is rice pudding. I depart from my mumu's (grandmother's) recipe by adding a bit of sweet marsala to the mix. There's also a liver and rice sausage. There is an open-faced pastry, traditionally made with rye flour, called a piirakka (from Russian, pirog), that often contains a rice-based filling.

        A Portuguese friend of mine, from the Azores, makes a blood sausage which contains rice.

        2 Replies
        1. re: hungry_pangolin

          I made a risi e bisi this week, a very delicate risotto with fresh peas, and a stock made from the pods of the peas (I also added the stalks of fresh new garlic. Not a "national" dish, but a regional one, from Venice and the surrounding area. Bits of meat can be added, but I made the vegetarian (and kosher) version from Joyce Goldstein's Cucina ebraica. Plenty of protein in the peas and cheese...

          1. re: lagatta

            Although basmati is 'best' for those concerned with glycemic index and I love Indian cuisine, I still favor risottos over biryanis and "dry" rice dishes. Right now is a great time for an early summer favorite: risotto with zucchini flowers, which is both regional (Tuscany and surrounding regions) and seasonal (late spring/early-to-mid summer).

        2. The Persians elevate rice prep and presentation to an art form, and venerate the grain. If I had to pick an emblematic dish, it would be the "homiest" dish, the one all my Persian friends fought over at their grandma's table, and that I worked hardest to learn: ta-diq. This means "bottom of the pot" and it's outrageously delicious. Served as a crown to a huge platter of rice, or on its own with a beef stew on top, it can't be beat...

          5 Replies
          1. re: poho

            Properly prepared, this is the best rice preparation I've every had. I just found some recipes and am going to try it myself. And the rice pudding found everywhere in Istanbul cannot be beat.

            1. re: poho

              To add to this list of Persian rice dishes, I would say my mom's lubia polo (basmanti rice with green beans and beef) is the best. I love it. Her tadigh is excellent, as well. Yum! :)

              1. re: poho

                We have something similar in Puerto Rico, which we just call "pegao" (a colloquializaion of "pegado" --which means stuck to the bottom of the pot.

                Its a byproduct of nearly every rice dish we make. My mother has a story where a friend of hers' American born non latino wife wanted to impress her inlaws with a home made dinner.
                So she made pegao. A whole platter of it. She said it took all of her pots and several hours to make enough for everyone.

                1. re: MaspethMaven

                  I didn't know Puerto Rico had a similar dish! Wow! Is this dish available in Los Angeles? :)

                  1. re: katkoupai

                    That's the thing... its not something thats made on purpose. It happens when you make rice and there's some that sticks to the pot. That's all it is. I suppose an analogy was trying to make a pizza that was all crust. What the woman described above did was essentially make a load of pizzas and cut off the crusts, serve the crusts and then toss the pizzas.

              2. Jambalaya

                The Pilaf (palow?) of Mediterranean cultures.

                Mexican rice with cumin and annato.

                Rice pudding. (I am of northern European descent so this was a common comfort food in our home.)

                I'm spit-balling here, so please feel free to correct my assumptions.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Kelli2006

                  Zhong4 zi3 - glutinous rice steamed in bamboo leaves with a variety of filling (or no filling at all) from various parts of China.

                  Claypot rice, largely Cantonese, rice cooked in a claypot with a number of ingredients (Chinese sausages and chicken is a popular combination). The crispy rice at the bottom is always great, and some places may pour broth into the claypot to get that off to be consumed with soup.

                  Nasi Lemak - rice cooked with coconut milk and pandan leaves - common in Singapore/Malaysia, served with a variety of sides like fried anchovies with chilli and peanuts, pickles, fried egg etc....

                  The Indonesians cook rice in many different ways with a whole panel of spices. Nasi kuning ("yellow rice") is a more common example where tumeric as well as coconut milk.

                  Hainanese chicken rice - rice steamed with garlic, ginger, chicken broth.

                  A very processed example would be mochi and related sweets.