Chinese settlers first brought rice to the Caribbean islands in the early 1900s. It went well with just about every indigenous food and white rice - arroz blanco - is now a popular side dish with Latin Caribbean meals. Jamaican cuisine alone boasts more than 400 rice recipes. It's often an important component of other regional recipes as well.
If you're looking for a rice dish that won't overshadow your main course, simple plain white rice hits the spot and it's easy to make. This recipe uses long grain rice.
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup long grain rice
- Pinch of salt, or to taste
- Rinse the rice well in a colander.
- Bring the water to boil in a saucepan. Add the rice and the salt.
- Allow the rice to boil for about 1 minute. Stir at least once to prevent sticking, but don't overdo it.
- Cover the sauce pan with an appropriate tight-fitting lid that does not have an exhaust hole.
- Reduce the heat to low and allow the rice to simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.
Tips, Variations and Recipes
- Don't lift the lid off the saucepan before 30 minutes have passed. The trapped steam cooks the rice. If you let it escape, your rice won't finish properly.
- Some traditional Caribbean white rice recipes include 1 to 1¼ tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice per each cup of rice. You can also sprinkle the rice with a little lime juice before rinsing it if it's picked up a plastic smell from the packaging.
- You can add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and stir slightly before serving for a little extra flavor if you're serving the rice as a side dish.
- Long grain rice fluffs up when you cook it, especially with a little help from a fork. Unlike short grain rice, it doesn't tend to clump together. It's the easiest kind of rice to make — it's forgiving of errors such as in timing or letting some steam escape.
- Your rice may burn slightly on the bottom of the saucepan, but Latin American cuisine has a place for this byproduct, too. This burned rice is called "concon" in the Dominican Republic. It's crunchy and tasty, having absorbed any seasonings you included with the rice.
- For richer rice, substitute chicken broth for all or some of the water.
- Jamaican cuisine adds red kidney beans to a rice side dish, one 15.5-ounce can per two cups of rice. Sauté onions, garlic, and a little hot pepper (if you like things spicy) in some olive oil, then add the mixture to the saucepan with the rice and beans and cook as you normally would.