Monday, April 27, 2009

Dominican White Rice

So what's the big deal about Dominican white rice? It's very similar to the way rice is cooked in India as well as my Caribbean compatriots - Cuba and Puerto Rico. In Dominican Republic white rice is an integral part of the meal and must be flavorful, each grain separate waiting to absorb our red beans or the thin gravy from a carne guisada (braised meat). There are two camps in the white rice debate - yes debate. Some (like me) who prefer the rice very separate, no mushy grains, good rice definition if you will. Still others like my dad prefer their rice apastado, meaning almost like a paste, a bit mushy, less grain definition. Growing up it was a race to the rice pot to beat my dad who would stick the spoon deep into the heart of the rice pot to dig up the apastado rice at the bottom. Oy! If I made it to the pot first I would gleefully serve myself from those top layers of fluffy rice. If my dad dug in first I'd grumble while digging through the disturbed layers. Now that I'm the sole ruler of my kitchen rice is unabashedly fluffy and there will be no apastado rice in my house.

Aside from the texture Dominican white rice needs salt and oil. Like I mentioned in my earlier post it was a rude awakening to taste white rice outside of my home. Chinese steamed rice looks similar to our white rice but they use no salt. That was an interesting surprise. Not. White rice served in most restaurants and hotels varies from the boil and drain to the converted rice pilaf made with chicken broth. No, as a child I never risked eating white rice outside of my home for fear of disappointment. Measuring the rice was one of my first kitchen duties helping my mom, then I graduated to adding the salt & oil, finally to full fledged putting it on the stove to cook.

But after I married and moved 800+ miles away from my family I was busy working and when I finally had the desire to cook again I forgot how to make white rice! I know, the horror. Thankfully my Mami was only a phone call away to giggle at the thought of me forgetting to cook the dish. Below is my tried and true recipe and if you get it right you'll enjoy it like many a Dominican, with just a drizzle of a good Spanish fruity extra virgin olive oil.

One last thing - concon. Concon, aka pegao is the rice that cooks to a crispy layer at the bottom of the rice pot. No it's not burned. It's crispy, scrapes off in almost a whole layer and quite a coveted item in the Dominican household. It's the treat left after you eat the meal or if you're pushy, what you shove the rest of the rice over for and start scraping to get a crispy addition to the fluffy stuff. The way to get good concon is 1) to make sure and coat the pan well with oil before adding the rice and 2) let the rice cook about 10 minutes more after it's done on low. Concon doesn't keep well past the first night so enjoy it. The white rice keeps and reheats well with the sprinkling of a few drops of water before heating.

Dominican White Rice

1 cup extra long grain white rice - Mahatma, Canilla, etc. those are the brands I grew up with. Jasmine is a good substitute, Basmati works in a pinch.
1 scant teaspoon table salt - I measure with my hand so it's not exact.
1 tablespoon olive oil - I just drizzle out of the bottle. You want enough olive oil to coat all the grains of rice so add more if necessary.
1 1/2 cup water - This is the ratio. For every cup of rice, 1 1/2 cups of water. Just multiply for however many people you're feeding.

First mix the rice, salt and olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan with a well fitting lid. Stir the mixture until all the grains of rice are coated with oil.

Add the water and place over medium high heat until it comes to a pretty brisk boil.

Now cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. That's like a 2 on my 1-10 dial. Cook the rice until the water has evaporated below the top surface, about 20 minutes or so.

The rice is not done yet. Remove the lid and with a fork, fluff the rice from the outside in. Make a well in the middle of the pot to let the rest of the moisture evaporate. Replace the lid and cook for another 10 minutes or so.

Once the rice is done, it will be separate and toothsome but not hard at all. There will be no apparent moisture and it will not be mushy despite my dad's pleading. Here it is with the Chicken Dijon from the other day.

That's part of our flag you're seeing in that picture. The bandera, our flag, is the name for the unofficial Dominican meal. Some type of meat, white rice and beans and what you'll likely be served by any self-respecting Dominican hostess should you be so lucky to snag an invitation to the family table. Buen provecho! (that means enjoy)


Anonymous said...


I've tried to get my rice like this in the past but failed horribly. Hopefully I'll have a nice layer of concon when I'm done.

Marielle said...

I hope you enjoy your concon. Thanks for visiting.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing! I now use your recipe every time I cook rice. It works well in a rice cooker too!

interview hr said...
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