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I am very new to cooking.

I can boil rice, but it tastes too bland. Is there anything else I can add to it, to make it taste better?

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closed as not constructive by hobodave Mar 7 '12 at 15:47

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Suggestion: I think you mean "flavorful", not "tasteful". –  Marti Jan 2 '11 at 17:36
Thanks for the help guys, Im trying the chicken stock technique tonight –  boya Jan 5 '11 at 20:17
ricegourmet.com/recipe_india.htm –  pramodc84 Jan 16 '12 at 13:07

19 Answers 19

Three ways:

  1. Do it like Hainan Chicken Rice, but only the rice part. I cannot find the exact recipe, but I know the rice is to be cooked with chicken stock and chicken fat

  2. When you cook your rice, chop up some bok choy and put them when the rice is about half cooked

  3. Lastly, but it's my favorite recipe.

    i) Cook your rice just like normal either in a pot or rice cooker. Put a drop or two of cooking oil in the rice

    ii) Marinate some pork or beef with soy sauce, salt, rice wine, corn flour & cooking oil.. (the usual Chinese way of marinating meat) & Prepare some Chinese sausages. Set assign all the ingredients and make sure the size of all the pork or beef are bite size as we want it to be cooked quickly

    iii) When you cook your rice, watch the time and you want to put in all the indigents before the rice is just cooked. (e.g. if it normally takes 20 mins to cook your rice, you will add all the ingredients about 15th min into the cooking. The idea is you don't put in the indigents when you still see lots of water with the rice)

    iv) After you put in all the ingredients, you can set back and wait for your rice to be cooked. You may let the rice to set in the rice cooker for at least 10 mins after the rice is cooked.

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Hainan Chicken Rice involves simply steaming the chicken in the water as the rice cooks, thus making a chicken stock. Add allot of crushed garlic, some ginger slices and salt to taste too. –  Rincewind42 Dec 1 '11 at 7:38
Side note: if using a rice cooker, make sure yours allows opening half way through cooking, as some models are timer based, so timing resets (e.g. Zojirushis). –  Dolan Antenucci Feb 11 '13 at 23:21

A relative (the wife of a French chef) suggested using cheesecloth to put anything you want in the rice. You could put:

  • Coconut Milk (don't really need the cheesecloth for that, though :)
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Lime or Lemon (Chipotle's puts lime and cilantro in their rice (I don't think they use cheesecloth)
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A very simple addition: salt.

Lots of people don't add it, but I can tell if rice was cooked with or without it by looking at it (the other half constantly forgets), never mind by taste.

Salty foods also help. Plain rice and soy sauce is really nice IMO.

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One note: add the salt before cooking, not after. Big difference between cooking the salt into it and just putting it on top –  Zombies Jan 3 '11 at 22:51
I literally can not eat unsalted rice, god knows how people can consume it. Has to be added to the cooking water upfront, same applies to pasta. Without it, it is unspeakably bland. –  Orbling Jan 3 '11 at 23:51

Add some Alfredo sauce; it tastes good.

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This just sounds wrong---but yet so right :) –  Dolan Antenucci Feb 11 '13 at 23:22

If you have some left over rice you can turn it into a meal in itself by making egg fried rice. Start with cold boiled rice, some egg and some spring onions or scallions. Fry the rice, egg and onions together then sprinkle with a generous helping of soy sauce.

Indian's make a nice rice dish called Biryani that is rice cooked in yogurt and spices with a little meat.

When I was in England, my mother would sometimes add some diced carrot, turnip and peas to the rice as it cooked.

In China, it is common to make a rice porridge. After cooking the rice, add more hot water and a few pickles or dried fruits and either a little salt or, as I prefer, a little sugar.

If you are really stuck, just pouring some tomato ketchup over rice is a quick and easy way to make it taste good.

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Basically, you can add flavor during the cooking process, or after the cooking process. During the cooking process, you can substitute or replace some of the water with other liquids. As suggested above, stocks and broths are delicious, as are fruit or vegetable juices. A pat or two of butter is also a delicious addition to cooking liquid. Also, you can add small amounts of spices such as cinnamon, turmeric, or even a favorite spice mix. There are a lot of varieties you could invent.

After cooking the rice, adding a sauce, sprinkling of herbs or spices, or mixing it with another food will complement the flavor. A nice Asian touch is dried seaweed (also called Laver). You could try a few drops of sesame oil, or butter and sugar. You could pour on sriracha, or mix with Korean pepper paste (gochujang). You could mix with pre-cooked vegetables, bits of egg, or fruit or nuts. Again, lots of varieties you could invent.

The beauty of the plainness of the rice is that it tastes simple as it is, or can be a clean base for a variety of flavours.

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My wife being Chinese we eat a lot of rice. Within the range of white rice there are many differences. Choose a nice rice (don't go for the expensive one in the supermarket but go for the 10 Kg bag in the Chinese / Asian shop (We personally use Thai Perfumed Rice)). Also choose a rice that is sold as "new rice" from last years harvest.

The absolute biggest mistake to make is "instant/quick rice". That is actually precooked in the factory, a process that makes rice really dry and blant, however hard they try to stop that.

Also, to taste up rice you can add some stock or just some (white) wine, but in general just cooking a proper rice well will be plenty of taste.

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You already got a lot of responses for rice dishes. I'll add a way to make plain tasty rice.

There are rices which have great taste by themselves - use Basmati or Jasmine rice. Use the proper amount of water - water must evaporate completely. Rice is cooked in cold water. Add only salt. When it's cooked, mix in a bit of butter. That's it - a basic, plain, simple and tasty rice. :)

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I flavor my rice depending on what it is going with.

  • For curries I like cardamon pods.
  • For fried rice a good hit of oil and chicken booster.
  • For side to an Asian dish I add a mixture of coconut milk infused with lemongrass and coriander root.
  • For really special dishes nothing beats saffron.
  • For a plain steamed rice I add salt and a tiny hit of vinegar or mrin.
  • Alternatively, lemon zest and tumeric.

You can have a lot of fun flavoring rice because it infuses very easily.

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Using zest from citrus (lemon, lime, orange, etc) is a great way to punch up the flavor of white rice.

I will usually add the zest before cooking (with plenty of salt) and then add the juice of the fruit after cooking is complete.

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A very nice way is to cook the rice in 1/2 coconut milk, 1/2 water and add a few stalks of lemongrass.

This adds a delicate sweetness that should be offset by a spicy sauce.

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Just boiled rice with the powder of the Urad dal (split Matpe or beluga beans), salt and olive oil.. what a delicious food on earth.

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An easy way to enhance rice is adding some chopped coriander just before serving will give an oriental taste to it and feels very fresh.

Or you can play with other herbs, like dill, parsley, onions,...

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I always find rice a disappointment when I am out and about, because people boil it. Growing up I never had plain boiled rice, as my family always made an onion rice, like a pilau.

This needs a wide lidded saute/frying pan, say 10-12" wide, 2" deep.

Chop a large onion, soften in butter, wash 1/2 pint basmati rice till water runs clean (in a sieve), then toss with onion to coat rice, then add twice as much stock (chicken or vegetable) as rice and put a lid on, wait till water absorbed, no stirring!

Add saffron with the stock to make it nicer still.

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Add a small amount of mirin or rice vinegar for a tangy zing.

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There are countless ways to make rice more flavorful. Some of the techniques I use follow:

  • Use 50% water / 50% chicken broth (or stock) to boil the rice.
  • Before boiling the rice, stir in some dried herbs into the uncooked rice grains. Saffron is a good choice, ditto any type of curry.
  • Boil the rice in herbal tea rather than water.
  • If you are slow-cooking any kind of brothy soup, buy some cheesecloth beforehand. Then, take a swatch of cheesecloth, pour some uncooked rice in there, then tie the cheesecloth shut so it makes a bag with rice inside it. Do that a few times then throw the cheesecloth "bags" into the soup pot. After cooking the soup, remove the cheesecloth bags, cut them open, and enjoy the rice!

Also consider a different type of rice. I presume you're using standard long- or medium-grain white rice. My favorite type of rice is Jasmine rice, which has a more enjoyable flavor and aroma than the standard issue white rice. Also, Basmati rice is nice to have every now and then; it's longer, drier, and less sticky than the standard white rice.

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Try cooking your rice with a flavorful liquid. My favorite is homemade chicken/vegetable stock, but you can buy any kind of chicken or beef broth at the store and it will add a lot of flavor as well. You could also try experimenting with combinations of other liquids, such as wines and vinegars. A pat of butter will also help add some flavor.

Another option is to spice the water. When you buy packets of "ready to go" rice, such as Rice-A-Roni, think of the instructions - pour rice, spice blend, and water into pan, and simmer. You can take the same idea and use any spices you want (depending on what flavor combinations will work with the rest of your meal).

In my house, it's actually OK if the rice isn't very flavorful for some of the dishes I make - it's like bread, in that it's a base for the meal, not the star. White rice is a perfect base for Chicken Adobo or a simple stir fry, for example.

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Agreed on the liquids -- my dad would make 'red rice', where he'd use crushed tomatoes as the liquid. –  Joe Jan 3 '11 at 5:48
Second that! I had a friend who would make rice using tea instead of water. It added some interesting flavor. –  thehiatus Jan 4 '11 at 17:41

spices ? sauteeing is super easy too. you can sautee veggies, etc., and toss them in.

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You don't even need to do it separately ... I'll finely dice carrots and onion, get a little color on them, stir in the rice, cook 'til it goes translucent, then add the liquid. If I'm preparing it as a side for an indian dish, I'll add some spices (a stick of cinnamon, a few cloves cloves, cardamom pods, etc.) –  Joe Jan 3 '11 at 5:55

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