Rice, as we all know, is a very common, simple, and resourceful food. There are numerous ways to cook this dish and somehow every other day someone comes up with a new variation of it. Being a universal meal means that every country has it’s specific, passed on by generations own recipe to prepare rice.
Options can either include meat, vegetables, milk, sweeteners, spices, you name it; there is really not an ultimate method of cooking these treasured grains.
Although ingredients may change, some recipes stand out over others due to their taste, nutritious value, and convenience to prepare on the go. If you are tired of the same old bland rice you’ve been doing so far, continue reading to find out a different way to switch up how you eat this comfort meal in the coziness of your own home.
The Mexican rice
The rice from Mexico The famous “red rice” is an ancient Mexican dish. It is often served as a side or before the main course. This rice goes together with beans, meat or fish and can also be added as a filling for tacos, making it a highly convenient and adjustable meal.
It is so common in Mexican gastronomy that it is part of the Daily Special Menus of many restaurants in the country. If you are looking for a new addition to your catalog, don’t miss out on trying this staple of the Latino kitchen.
The secret in the Mexican rice is, of course: the red sauce, it provides not only the characteristic color but the distinctive flavor as well. Made up (mostly) by tomato pulp, red chili, onion, cilantro, vinegar, and salt blended together, this sauce is so a good many countries have its own version too.
Some may confuse this dish with Spanish rice, however, the latter is cooked with saffron and not with the tomato juice mentioned above, giving it a yellowish tone. If that sounds interesting, maybe consider trying out that recipe instead by following this link and you can be the judge of what version you like the most: https://successrice.com/recipes/spanish-rice/.
As a treat, I’ll leave you a fun recipe to embody your Latino self and prepare rice the Mexican way.
Here’s what you need:
- 1 ½ cups of long-grain white rice. If you’d like to use brown rice, just make sure to up the liquid by ½ cup.
- ¼ cup of oil.
- 1 tsp. of minced garlic.
- ¼ finely diced medium onion.
- 2 fresh tomatoes.
- ¼ tsp. of salt.
- 1 diced carrot.
- ½ cup peas.
- 3 cups of water.
Note: Don’t forget to wash the rice before you start to remove the excess starch and avoid clumps.
Pro tip: use a fine mesh strainer and only stop rinsing when the water runs clear.
- Blend the tomatoes, garlic, and onion together, this will be your tomato sauce (you can add more ingredients to the sauce like cilantro, chili, or vinegar, but for the sake of keeping it simple we will stick with the basics here).
- In a large saucepan pour the oil on medium-high heat and once it is hot add the rice, and stir together for about 10 minutes until you notice the rice taking a lightly golden or brown tone.
- It’s time to mix everything, add the tomato sauce, salt, carrots, peas, and water.
- When it begins to boil, cover and reduce the heat to low for about 20 minutes, or until the water is completely absorbed.
- Remove from the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes before lightly fluffing it with a fork. Don’t rush! Leaving the rice to rest for a moment is crucial to avoid a mushy result.
All done! You can serve as a side with whatever option you like the most: Roast beef, fried or steamed vegetables, there are no rules to what you enjoy most. Actually, in a number of households, this can even be considered the main dish. And furthermore, you can make it all in one pot or pan, making cleanup a breeze, who can complain?
Before committing to try this flavorful rice, please keep note that this is a recipe born from locals, but it doesn’t limit the possibilities of how you can prepare Mexican rice. It is designed to be paired with beans, chicken bowls, and tacos, or if you add more vegetables of your preference, you can make it into its own main dish, containing a fairly great amount of nutrients.
Different regions and backgrounds may tweak an ingredient or two, so don’t worry if you have to search for alternatives, the authenticity will always lie in the sauce, but even that can stir up a conversation. Just have fun!
Consider these alternative ingredients for a restaurant-style result
Replace water with chicken broth
By using water to cook the rice the simplistic flavor of the grain will help enhance the other elements in the dish. However, if you look for a more salty, savory, and exciting flavor, try cooking the rice in chicken broth instead.
You can find options for chicken broth at grocery stores, but using your homemade version might be ideal due to its organic qualities and accessibility. To prepare the rice, just follow the normal procedure you always use, only change the water for the broth and you can continue with the recipe.
This really simple twist will make your rice recipes level up extraordinarily, leaving your rice moist and flavorful without the use of additives.
Homemade red sauce
Making the perfect red sauce for your Mexican rice (or any other recipe that requires it) can be either as easy as buying a can of tomato sauce at your local market or making yours at home with your favorite ingredients.
Keep in mind if you want a strong noticeable flavor, then the seasoning is crucial. However, this is up to your particular taste. Follow this stress-free 6-ingredient formula to power up your sauce and you will notice a great difference in the final result.
Here’s what you need:
- 3 tbsp of olive oil (sunflower or corn oil is OK too).
- 4 chopped tomatoes.
- ½ medium diced yellow onion.
- 4 chopped garlic cloves.
- ½ tsp. Salt.
- ¼ cup of torn basil leaves.
- In a pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and tomatoes together and cook them for around 30 minutes or until you notice the liquid is thickening. If you would like a smoother sauce, then blend the tomatoes and yellow onion before pouring it into the pan.
- Now add the garlic and salt, and cook for five minutes. Add the basil, stir for a moment and it’s done!
Cook’s tip: You can store it in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
What else can you add to the sauce?
The more, the merrier – although if you are going for a sauce that’s very strong, your other ingredients may be eclipsed, so take note when you are choosing your sides to ensure a balanced dish. If your goal is a heavy set sauce then try adding fresh herbs like parsley, and red pepper flakes for a spicy spark and if you want milky rice, then consider mixing it with cream right when you are about to serve.
For a piercing touch, you could even add red wine, but just a splash!