Risotto (from Italy), Pilaf (from the Middle East), and Fried Rice (from China) represent 3 entirely different types of rice cookery. But they’re all easy to make, economical, and healthy eating. Three dishes that are world-famous: saffron-flavored Risotto, Pilaf with raisins and almonds, and Chinese Fried Rice.
An authentic pilaf is cooked in the oven, has all the stock added to it at once; it is cooked, covered, left undisturbed in oven until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Cooked in this way, rice grains are moist, tender, with each grain separate.
However, one version of pilaf does cook the rice on top of stove but in such a way that the rice, when cooked, has same consistency as the more widely accepted oven-cooked pilaf. Both methods are given in this feature.
When cooked, the pilaf can have raisins and almonds stirred through it, with additional butter.
Pilaf with Raisins and Almonds
- 1 tablespoon butter or oil
- 1 tablespoon melted butter (extra)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cups (12 oz) uncooked rice
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 3 oz raisins
- 2 oz slivered blanched almonds
Heat butter or oil in pan that can be covered tightly. Add onion, cook gently until it is soft but not brown. Add rice, stir well over gentle heat a few minutes; add boiling chicken stock. Cover tightly, cook in moderately hot oven 25 to 30 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Turn rice into heated serving-dish, separate grains with fork, stir in melted butter, raisins, and almonds. Keep warm until ready to serve.
(Common to most Middle East countries)
- 8 oz long-grain rice
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ pint (15 oz) white stock
Place rice in shallow dish and pour boiling water over. Stand until water is cold, then strain and wash rice several times in running water. Heat butter in large pot, add stock and salt, bring to fast boil. Add the drained rice, cover and cook over high heat 5 minutes, then turn heat to very low, continue cooking another 7 or 8 minutes, or until all liquid has been absorbed and little holes appear over surface of rice.
Take off saucepan lid, place napkin over top of saucepan to absorb steam and prevent water falling back into rice. Replace lid, move saucepan from direct heat; keep it in a warm place; let rice rest 35 minutes. (This “rest” period is a very important part in making a pilav.) Remove napkin and lid, stir pilav well with fork until each grain stands separately. Serve at once.
Traditionally cooked on top of stove, has the stock added to it gradually; more stock is used than for pilaf, and risotto is stirred often during cooking. The perfect risotto is creamy, moist, with rice grains clinging together lightly. Extra finely grated Parmesan cheese is a traditional topping or accompaniment.
In Italy, rice is almost as much a staple part of the diet as the better-known pasta. The basic risotto for which we give the recipe, is the accepted accompaniment to the popular Osso Buco (veal shanks cooked in a rich, well-flavored stock).
Risotto can have beef marrow and white wine or Marsala added to the cooking; saffron is used to color and flavor rice. The simple risotto can be served as an accompaniment to many meat dishes.
Cooked chicken, duck, shellfish, mushrooms, chicken livers, peas, etc. – almost anything you like – can be mixed into risotto to make a main dish.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 dessertspoonful melted butter (extra)
- ½ teaspoon powdered saffron
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cups (12 oz) uncooked rice
- 5 or 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
In large pot melt butter, and saute onion until it starts to turn golden. Add rice, mix well. Gradually add boiling stock, about 1 cup at a time; wait until liquid has been absorbed before adding next cup. Stir at each addition. Add saffron with the last cup of stock, stir in well, cover pan and cook for remainder of cooking time.
The rice should cook about 20 minutes from time first cup of stock is added. The rice should be very tender, liquid all absorbed, and mixture creamy at end of this time. Add melted butter and Parmesan, mix in carefully with fork. Serve immediately, topped, if desired, with extra Parmesan cheese.
Among English-speaking people, this is one of the most popular of Chinese dishes. In China, where it is known as “Chow Fan,” it is generally served at the end of a meal.
For this dish, the rice is cooked – boiled or steamed – allowed to cool and dry out; then it is reheated in a small quantity of oil, and a variety of good-tasting, colorful ingredients are added.
Large amounts of plain boiled or steamed rice are often prepared; what is left over is used later to make a fried rice dish. Long-grain is the rice used; Chinese consider it easier to cook, less sticky, better flavored.
Chinese Fried Rice
- 1 tablespoon oil
- ¼ lb cooked chopped pork
- ½ lb long-grain rice, cooked salt
- ¼ lb prawns, shelled
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon water
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 oz ham, finely chopped
Heat oil in frying pan, add chopped pork. Fry 1 or 2 minutes, then add rice and salt. Cook 10 minutes, stirring to prevent rice sticking. Add prawns, mix well, then clear small space in rice and drop in egg, breaking yolk. When nearly cooked, stir and mix through rice. Add soy sauce mixed with the water, and shallots. Mix well, sprinkle chopped ham over.