Super simple rice recipes
January 1, 2014 10:35 AM   Subscribe

I love rice and I just received a Zojirushi Mr. Bento lunchbox for Christmas. How can I make some super-simple rice dishes to eat at lunch?

I mean REALLY simple. My current favorite involves cooking rice with chicken broth instead of water, and the stirring in chicken and cheese. Yum! I'm an inexperienced cook that's also short on time, but I'd love to try more rice recipes because I really do like it. But whenever I search on the internet I find recipes that call for grating my own ginger, or stir-frying ten different ingredients individually, or something equally complicated. I just can't do that right now.

Do you have Bento-friendly simple recipes that feature rice? I'd love to hear them!
posted by christinetheslp to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You can toss in any frozen vegetable at the start of cooking your rice and it'll be cooked by the time the rice is ready (assuming its regular rice and not parboiled like minute rice or something). Works with a can of drained beans too. Try using a jar of salsa (use a little less water, maybe 2/3 cup less).
posted by cacao at 11:07 AM on January 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Get some sheets of nori and make some sushi! Just add a little rice wine vinegar and sugar to the rice, put a bit of it on the nori and wrap in whatever you want, from veggies to seafood salad.
posted by karbonokapi at 11:29 AM on January 1, 2014 is my go-to for these kinds of recipes. The author is actually Japanese, but lives in Europe, and so writes recipes that are not wholly reliant on Japanese-specific ingredients. Everything is written with an eye to being packed and carried, as well as how to make-and-freeze various recipes and components.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:35 AM on January 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Did you know that Zojirushi themselves have lots of recipes on their website? Rice Cooker Recipes. Some of them are complicated but there are lots of mixed rice ones that are no more complicated than frying something up in a pan and mixing it with your rice before or after cooking it. Shitake Rice, Green Tea Rice, Seaweed Rice. Their ratios are pretty trustworthy, so you can double or halve as needed and be pretty confident the yumminess will remain.

I also love making sushi rice (adjust the seasonings to your taste, I like a bit more vinegar than that recipe), and eating it with any leafy green, like a wrap. You can wrap small balls (or even just spoonfuls) of sushi rice with nori, but there's also kale, romaine lettuce, mustard greens, large basil leaves, and more. Whatever's fresh. Dip it in a sauce if you like, tuck other fresh vegetables into the rice, or any protein-filled leftovers you've got.
posted by Mizu at 11:46 AM on January 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have a Mr. Bento myself, and should really get back in the habit of using it. I don't have any great rice recipes for you, since I usually just pack mine with bread and soups, stews or curries, but I do think it's worth noting that the Mr. Bento is not a traditional bento box, but rather a vacuum jar that has more in common with an Indian tiffin.
posted by contraption at 11:48 AM on January 1, 2014

Best answer: In our house we call this "coco rice": make the rice with half coconut milk and half broth or water in which you've dissolved a bullion cube, and also add chopped carrots at the start (so they're cooked by the time it's done). You could easily also add some cooked chicken at the end. It's very simple, tastes good, and is a nice change of pace.
posted by redfoxtail at 11:54 AM on January 1, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: If you also like lentils, you can cook them in your rice cooker along with your rice. I like to add olive oil, cumin, and salt.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:52 PM on January 1, 2014

Best answer: The most simple, really crazy simple rice dish I make is to add avocado and soy sauce to the rice. Distant hint of sushi, still filling and delicious.
Serve with chopped up sweet fried egg (or simpler fried egg) for more protein.
posted by travelwithcats at 1:12 PM on January 1, 2014 [2 favorites]

I was also going to suggest Just Bento. In particular, her section on onigiri!

Onigiri are fun to eat and easy to make. Plus, you can fill them with nearly anything that you'd find tasty. (My personal favorite is smoked salmon.)
posted by pecanpies at 2:50 PM on January 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

Check out Roger Ebert's all rice cooker cookbook, The pot and how to use it.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 3:05 PM on January 1, 2014

I've been using a regular bento box from Muji for years. :___3

One of my staples is Chinese scrambled eggs and tomato with rice on the side.

And if I haven't been plugging Cookpad enough, well, Cookpad. Today I'm eating this tofu stir-fry with mushrooms, but they have an entire section for bento dishes.

The Manga Cookbook is a bit thin but has some bento staples, from a simple soboro to how to do octopus sausages.
posted by sukeban at 11:48 PM on January 1, 2014

Seconding onigiri. If you add furikake, you can make super simple quick tasty ones on the go, but also can just eat it sprinkled on rice or even make it into a more substantial meal.
posted by Dimes at 12:02 AM on January 2, 2014

Also, tamago kake gohan is really simple. You can use pastureized eggs. It's a little weird for western tastes, and generally a breakfast food, but it would work well for lunch too. If you can get past all that it's delicious. Just reheat the cold rice, or add a bit of hot dashi stock and soy to the rice -- and you can bring the egg with you to break over it and mix when you're about to eat.
posted by Dimes at 12:21 AM on January 2, 2014

For a while after I got my rice cooker, one of my go-to dishes was about as simple as it gets: short grained Japanese rice (not sushi rice but similar) with a chopped hard boiled egg or two, sprinkled with salt. I'd often sautée a veggie to have on the side or with the rice as well: baby bok choy and/or mushrooms are great.

Very simple, but healthy, filling and tasty.
posted by lunasol at 8:52 AM on January 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Melt a bit of butter in a pan, throw your uncooked rice in there and stir it around until it gives off a nutty fragrance. (Maybe throw in a handful of pine nuts or chopped almonds while you're at it.) Transfer to the rice cooker, add your chicken stock, maybe add some currants or vegetables, a bit of salt, soaked saffron if you're feeling fancy. Cook rice as usual.
posted by salix at 8:59 PM on January 2, 2014

Indian peas pulao is easy and delicious. Sauté some onions and garlic with cumin and cloves. Add water, basmati rice, and peas, and cook. That's that.
posted by redlines at 3:34 PM on January 8, 2014

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