Help me make my wife like rice!
March 15, 2012 11:53 AM   Subscribe

My wife-to-be doesn't really like rice. I am a big fan of rice. What are some good recipes to help someone realize the wonders of rice? She likes fried rice and sticky rice, but that's about it. I like pretty much any rice dish that there is. How do we bridge the gap? Give me some recipes! Help me convert my future wife to a lover of rice!
posted by asnider to Food & Drink (37 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Risotto? Pilafs? Rice pudding?

What is it that she doesn't like about rice?
posted by peachfuzz at 11:55 AM on March 15, 2012

If she's never had risotto, that's a good place to start. I don't see how anyone couldn't like risotto.

There are lots of other grains that can stand in for rice, too - millet, quinoa, couscous, etc. Try substituting some of those where you would normally eat rice.
posted by something something at 11:56 AM on March 15, 2012

Has she ever had high quality steamed basmati rice? A world of difference from lame boiled long-grain rice that is the norm.
posted by JPD at 11:56 AM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

How about a risotto featuring her favorite vegetable? Or rice pudding?
posted by cranberry_nut at 11:57 AM on March 15, 2012

Paella. Risotto is also a great choice, and you can spruce it up in a lot of different ways with tomatoes, aspargus, and more.
posted by rich at 11:57 AM on March 15, 2012

Biryani! Mmmm.

To expand your wife-to-be's rice horizons, it would help if you knew what it is that she doesn't like about rice. The texture? Taste?
posted by raztaj at 11:57 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

What kind of "doesn't like" are we talking about here, are we talking "eww yucky gross get it away from me" or are we talking "eh, I'd just rather have potatoes is all"?

That can help you figure out the approach; if there's a texture thing going on, then find a dish that avoids the texture problems she has. If she just think rice tastes boring, there's wild rice, risottos, etc.

If she's violently opposed to rice, I'd just let her be.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:57 AM on March 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

Not a recipe, but does she like pasta? If so, you could start making things with orzo and then switch to rice and see how she feels about the transition.
posted by cranberry_nut at 11:58 AM on March 15, 2012

Has she tried jasmine or jasmati rice? It has a nutty flavor that is really nice.

For recipes, Dirty Rice is hard not to love (lots of different versions out there, we just brown ground beef or turkey and add a box of Near East Spanish rice and some hot sauce (and boiling water) and let it simmer, which is totally cheating but tastes awesome), plus it's a main dish so it's not all about the rice.

But if she doesn't like the texture or the taste of rice, a great recipe won't help much.
posted by Mchelly at 12:07 PM on March 15, 2012

Try some other types of rice. My husband hates plain white rice but loves Jasmine rice, or plain rice mixed with wild rice. If it's a texture thing try a nice creamy risotto or a rice cooker. Will she eat sushi? Don't force her to eat anything she doesn't want to though, my husband and I have a rule that no matter what the other one cooks we have to try one mouthful before we say we don't like it, after that there is no pressure.
posted by wwax at 12:14 PM on March 15, 2012

I thought I hated rice until I left home and found out not all rice is boiled in a bag for 60 seconds. Now I love all kinds of (Asian-style) rice. I'm becoming fond of risotto (in moderation) as well. The key for me was stuff in/on/with the rice, not just ... Rice.

My favorite magic ingredient is egg, fwiw. I could live on eggs and rice.
posted by olinerd at 12:19 PM on March 15, 2012

I dislike rice as well, despite having been exposed to a variety of kinds. In fact, the only rice I really enjoy is rice pudding. I will eat it in dishes that involve strong flavors (fried rice, paella, biryani, etc.) but rice as a side dish is incredibly blah to me. If I have a starch, I would much prefer pasta. Perhaps she just prefers something else.
posted by crankylex at 12:23 PM on March 15, 2012

Here's a comment I put out there some time ago with the basic recipe for Hungarian Rice. It is rice with bacon and garlic. I sometimes add onions to the dish.
posted by onhazier at 12:27 PM on March 15, 2012

For a dramatically different way of preparing rice: arancini.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:36 PM on March 15, 2012

Nthing everyone who wants to know what she doesn't like about rice. I don't particularly care for standard American medium-grain or medium-long-grain rice (e.e., Carolina) because it strikes me as neither fish nor fowl. I'd rather have stubby, sticky, creamy, soupy rice on the one hand (risotto, paella, sushi, bibimbap), or long, fluffy, separate, dry rice on the other (basmati, jasmine, etc.). Alas, my wife doesn't like dried beans (aka, black beans, pinto beans, borlotti, cannellini, etc.), so I feel your pain.

A really decadent risotto is hard to resist. One really nice way to do a mushroom risotto is the haute style, where you make a rich risotto with saffron broth, then saute a ridiculous amount of wild mushrooms in an unhealthy amount of butter, and top the risotto with the mushrooms at the table (protip: add more mushrooms to your plate when halfway through the risotto).

Bibimbap is also pretty cool, and doesn't have all that much rice in comparison to the other ingredients.

Spanish-style rice pudding is awesome. Also staying in Spain, paella is a good one as well. One trick I often use for paella (or perhaps I should call it paella-style) is to whizz a couple of red peppers up with the broth and then cook the paella in the resulting red pepper broth.

Jambalaya can be good, if she likes spicy. And lots of people like dirty rice, which is in a reasonably similar culinary wheelhouse.

And it's hard to beat just simple, properly made basmati rice.
posted by slkinsey at 12:42 PM on March 15, 2012

It is possible to make rice for one person, especially when it is a side dish. My wife really does not eat starches so rice, noodles, potatoes etc. are often just for me. This does not solve the dilema of rice in a main course, and you may not find a solution there. If it is just about the flavor and texture then the risotto may do the trick (and with a microwave this dish went from effort intense to simple preparation). If it is about the carbs or something it will never change.
posted by caddis at 12:47 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

We make a dish we call Spaghetti Rice. It's just marinara sauce over rice instead of pasta. Add some meatballs if you're feeling fancy.
posted by TooFewShoes at 12:54 PM on March 15, 2012

I also don't eat many starchy foods and I would find it wearying to be presented with a string of them in an attempt to coerce me into "liking" them. Leave your wife be. Rice, in particular, is hard for me to digest and it makes me cough for hours which is annoying.
posted by fshgrl at 12:55 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't love rice. It tastes bland and starchy. However, it's great for foods with sauce. Make things with sauce, which is a very large category of foods. And if you happen to have fried chicken and rice for dinner, things like steak sauce, sesame salad dressing, and other sauces make rice pretty good.
posted by theora55 at 1:03 PM on March 15, 2012

To add some additional info that folks have been requesting: she mostly thinks that rice is pretty bland. This isn't just a white rice thing, though; she feels the same way about rice that is (in my opinion) more flavourful, such as wild rice.

She feels similarly about pasta, viewing it mostly as a sauce delivery system, rather than a food in and of itself.

She likes potatoes in all of their varieties, though.

And, yes, I understand that she just doesn't generally prefer rice. I'm not trying to force her to eat food that she doesn't like. I suppose I'm just trying to find ways to prepare rice so that we'll both enjoy it. She'll eat it if it's on her plate, but I'd like to be able to prepare it so that she'll enjoy it instead of merely tolerating it.
posted by asnider at 1:22 PM on March 15, 2012

I eat a lot less rice than my husband. He cooks a big batch of curry and scoops up a big bowlful of rice, and I put about 1/3 as much that I top with a pile of the vegetables and sauce. It's not that I dislike rice, but it's just a vehicle. It doesn't add any enjoyment to my meal, and it doesn't add nutrition. Occasionally when I'm feeling sick/tired or in need of comfort food, I really enjoy the rice part of the meal, but usually it's just there. The other factor is that I'm trying to cut down on refined grains, and he thinks either that brown rice takes too long to cook or that it doesn't taste right/authentic with his stir-fry or curry dishes (yes, the reasoning varies).

So, maybe she can enjoy a meal that has rice as an option in/with the main dish, without actually looking forward to the rice part of it.
posted by aimedwander at 1:24 PM on March 15, 2012

Do you cook your rice in plain/salted water? I like to cook pasta and rice in stock, gives it a nice flavour so its more than just a bland, flavourless sauce delivery system.
posted by missmagenta at 1:32 PM on March 15, 2012

I feel the same way as your wife. Why am I going to waste calories and chewing effort on such a dull, dull food. But I do quite like rice pudding, and I love this recipe that's a sort of fusion of spanakopita and risotto. It's the white wine and feta mixed with the spinach and lemon that go so well together, and the rice adds bulk and a bit of chewy goodness.
posted by hazyjane at 1:35 PM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

At my house we mostly eat "Mexican" rice, viz:

dice a quarter of an onion and fry it in a small pot with olive oil
add cumin, turmeric, thyme and salt
cook until transparent and yummy-smelling (a couple of minutes)
add 1 cup rice -- we prefer jasmine --
cook until oil makes it transparent and yummy-smelling (a minute or two)
then add water, boil, and simmer until done (maybe 10 min)

posted by feets at 2:11 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not primarily a rice dish, but they do have rice as an ingredient. Porcupines - meatballs made with rice.
posted by ackptui at 2:55 PM on March 15, 2012

I suspect my Japanese mom tricked me into liking/eating rice by regularly preparing tamago gohan.
posted by plokent at 3:00 PM on March 15, 2012

I suspect my Japanese mom tricked me into liking/eating rice by regularly preparing tamago gohan.

The raw egg aspect would likely be an issue (as it would for me), but since it is apparently possible to buy pasteurized egg products, I am now really interested in trying this.
posted by asnider at 3:36 PM on March 15, 2012

Anything that the people of India do to rice makes it absolutely fantastic! See recipes for biryani, et al. I'm a big fan of Sindhi Biryani and Bombay Biryani. If your wife is a fan of spicy food, she will love these.

However, one of my all-time faves is Middle Eastern "Timman" (non-spicy). In our house, we make it like this:

Cover 2 cups of good long-grain Basmati rice (or Jasmine rice) in water. Salt it lightly and bring to a simmer. Allow the rice to cook about halfway, or about 10 minutes (you know it's just right when you sample the rice and it's soft on the outside but still firm on the inside). Strain water from the rice in a colander and return the rice to the pot. Add about 2-3 tablespoons of good quality extra virgin olive oil to the rice, and stir it thoroughly. You want the olive oil to coat as much of the rice as possible.

Take the pot and return to the burner on LOW heat (very important!). Place a towel over the pot, and then cover the pot with its lid *over* the towel. This will ensure the perfect consistency. (If you have loose ends of the towel hanging over the sides, just tuck them over the top of the pot lid and leave them there.) Allow the rice to cook like this for another 35-45 minutes. When you cook the rice this way, it forms a beautiful golden crust wherever the rice touches the pot. Be careful not to let it burn.

When it's done, take the pot, hold it over a plate, and flip the pot over so the rice comes out in one piece (trust me, this can take practice!), golden crust on top. The golden crust will be crunchy, with a lovely nutty flavour. It goes wonderfully with things like lamb or chicken kebabs.

I highly recommend a good non-stick pot for this, as it makes the part where you tip the pot over much easier! I have been treated to this lovely recipe by traditional Middle Eastern friends, and now I make for mine because it is so easy. The golden crust is the best part, and it is given to special guests first. Another note: it will make your house smell sooooo good!
posted by chatelaine at 3:40 PM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yes, I get the rice is boring thing. I felt that way for years, and have never warmed up to wild rice.

I'd recommend an excellent rice cooker (they do far more than make rice) and some recipes from the awesome Beth Hensberger & Julie Kaufman Ultimate Rice Cooker cookbook. Let her pick the recipes. It is incredible how not boring perfect rice tastes, particularly in an excellent recipe. Another great cookbook for people who don't see the wonder of rice is Grace Young's Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge, which proves that rice is an amazing enhancer for an amazing variety of stir fried dishes.
posted by bearwife at 4:05 PM on March 15, 2012

I really, really don't care for rice myself. Homemade Cuban rice and beans is, on the other hand, pretty awesome. So are golubki.
posted by medeine at 6:02 PM on March 15, 2012

Make it a vehicle for sauce. Throw some tomato sauce or gravy on it. Hmm... wild rice with mushroom gravy.
posted by slateyness at 6:03 PM on March 15, 2012

If you're willing to invest a bit (~$150 - $200), a high quality Korean or Japanese rice cooker makes ALL the difference in the taste of plain rice. I'm not a huge rice fan, but I'll gladly eat rice plain or with a bit of kimchee when it comes from one of these machines. You can also cook rice-based dishes in the cooker, and other similar meals.

For dishes with rice as a feature, I second biriyanis (goat is great), but they're tough to make authentically at home. But fried rice is super simple, tasty, and can be modified to your tastes and fridge contents.
posted by Gori Girl at 6:09 PM on March 15, 2012

Rice cooked in coconut milk is good. Add one part coconut milk to three parts water when you cook your rice. Fenugreek seeds, a stick of cinnamon, a few slices of ginger and/or a stick of lemongrass can all be added for flavor/aroma.
posted by BinGregory at 6:30 PM on March 15, 2012

Spanish rice

For lots of saucy Chinese dishes, rice acts as delivery system for delicious sauces. I especially recommend mapo tofu or sichuan-style spicy beef.

Also, the best dessert ever: Purple or white sticky rice topped with coconut milk and mango slices
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:47 PM on March 15, 2012

I also find rice boring (and feel the same way about pasta, bread, etc, since they are almost always the "blander" part of a meal where something much more interesting is served on top. I can sometimes start to see the appeal of these starches a little, but in recipes where they are the star, not ones like many people are suggesting above where you serve it together with something awesome. If there is something else delicious on the plate, I'd rather pick that out and leave most of the rice, so I can get more deliciousness bang for my calorie/stomach-fullness buck.

So the winners for me are dishes where it's all about the rice, such as rice pudding, rice in coconut milk, (preferably brown) rice cooked in chicken stock, very simple risottos, or even just a bowl of plain rice with a pool of melted butter on top and lots of salt (it's like mashed potato, but grainier!).

(Since I feel similarly about pasta, I only really eat pasta when it is done very very well: high quality or homemade fresh pasta served with just browned butter and sage, or just with olive oil and parmesan, or as carbonara, etc).
posted by lollusc at 11:04 PM on March 15, 2012

I think rice and pasta are boring too. I make rice more interesting by using basmati and cooking it in soup stock, usually just chicken but you could try others. I also sometimes douse it in a tangy salad dressing, something oil and balsamic or even Italian in a pinch. For best results I believe rich should be buried under a super spicy thali, preferably with some raita on the side. Sushi is pretty awesome too, especially with copious amounts of wasabe.
posted by Cuke at 12:03 PM on March 16, 2012

I dislike rice generally, but love Indian food and stuffed bell peppers. It's the addition of a gravy or sauce-like entree on top of rice that makes it palatable, hence Indian food's appeal. Also, Thai food is generally better with rice than without - has she tried it? This curry fried rice recipe has potatoes and rice in it, so maybe she could acclimate gradually...
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:25 AM on March 18, 2012

« Older I'm never wrong, you're never right   |   Can a man with a very unremarkable sense of style... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.