What Are Your Five-Minute Fixes for Rice?

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It’s not a recipe, exactly, but it’s a revelation, or it was when my roommate Judy showed it to me 40 years ago (scary, but true; it was 1970). There was something daring, creative, wonderful about it.

What was it? Lemon rice. Lemon, black pepper, cooked rice. Fried rice with lemon and pepper. Whatever you want to call it, it’s hardly exciting now.

And yet it’s great stuff. I don’t make it enough, but when I do I’m always glad I of it, because it’s really one of the easiest fixes I know. It takes five minutes, and adds a lot to both plain rice and any meal.

Basically: you cook long-grain rice. You can cook it hours, even days, in advance. You can use leftover takeout rice, too.

When you’re nearly ready to eat, melt some butter in a skillet; yes, you can use olive oil instead. Don’t skimp: a tablespoon per cup is not too much. Over medium heat, add the rice and stir. Grind black pepper in there, a lot (not a tablespoon per cup, but a lot – it should be assaultive, unless you don’t like black pepper). When the rice is hot, check for salt, add a little more pepper, and then start squeezing lemon – again, a lot, a tablespoon per cup, or more. When you’re done, it should be peppery and lemony, and taste like butter too.

Years later, I realized that Judy’s lemon rice was what happened when you made plain rice at the same time as you made, for example, some roasted or broiled chicken with a lot of lemon and butter – and then poured the pan drippings over the rice. This is fresher, easier, and can be more frequent. Highly recommended. 

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13 Comments

  1. Anonymous said...

    I mix leftover rice with diced tomatoes, onions, green chillies, hot sauce, and black beans. A bit of cheese on top and it’s a one pot meal! It reheats really well too. (I also substitute quinoa for the rice sometimes to add extra protein.)

  2. iNOMthings said...

    I stir-fry some scallions with butter, pour it over a bowl of white rice, and drizzle it with soysauce. Guilty pleasure.

  3. Anonymous said...

    I burn some onions in more olive oil or butter than I think I need, then stir in cold rice. From there I generally go to black beans and prepared salsa with a squirt or two of fresh lime, but I’ve also gone to good, cold strained yogurt and a heavy dose of pepper.

  4. veenasmarket said...

    Lately, I make Mexican rice with sauteed cumins and onions, refried black beans and diced tomatoes and finish off with a dash of lime. Often, I’ll eat the rice South Indian style with just yoghurt and a spicy pickle. When I was a child growing up in India, I loved rice with ghee and salt.

  5. Anonymous said...

    One of my quick snacks: About a cup of leftover rice, a pinch of salt, and a teaspoon or so of butter, reheated in the microwave and topped with an umeboshi plum. Not entirely authentic, as the Japanese wouldn’t add butter, but my Western palate requires the extra lubrication :)

  6. tatianak said...

    I do something similar to iNOMthings – scallions, sometimes mushrooms, sauteed in butter with garlic, drizzled on rice and sprinkled with lemon juice and soy sauce. Oh so good.

  7. Anonymous said...

    I’m not breaking any new culinary ground here but this is my go to: Leave leftover rice uncovered in the fridge so it has a chance to really dry out. Get a wok ripping hot, and add oil, minced ginger and minced garlic. Just before the aromatics brown, throw in the rice and let it fry. Plate it and top with an over easy egg and some sliced scallion greens. From there, you can point the dish toward Korea, Vietnam, China, or eat it as is with a squirt of Sriracha.

  8. Anonymous said...

    I prefer Jasmine rice for it’s aromatic flavor to start with, but I add 1 tablespoon of butter while cooking according to the package instructions, then add the zest of one lemon – per cup of rice (I find better lemon flavor without the tartness), and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. So easy and really livens up the rice. Sometimes I add fresh Thai basil, finely chopped for a little more exotic flavor.

  9. terraculinaria said...

    I have always loved rice and yogurt – thick, tart Greek/Middle Eastern yogurt OVER plain dry-cooked rice, it’s that simple. Another version to try is same, with curried rice.

  10. Anonymous said...

    I love mixing left over rice with gocujang, the Korean red pepper paste, eggs, soy sauce and any veggies I have on hand- ideally peppers, carrots and spinach. Quite a tasty meal. And economical!

  11. Mary Ann Archibald said...

    Oh my. Read this today just before lunch. Made it and had a nice glass of ginger ale with ice with it. Perfect for this hot day in July. Thank you for another lovely, easy recipe.

  12. Mary Ann Archibald said...

    My five-minute fix used to be to reheat a bowl of bamati and sprinkle some b-b-q spices or whatever happens to be around. I think this lemon-butter-pepper one just eclipsed it though.

  13. Anonymous said...

    Sauteed onions – a full onion for one person sounds about right – with garlic, chickpeas, and maybe whatever greens you have on hand; season with soy sauce, cooking sake, and some broth, and let it simmer until most of the water’s gone and the whole thing is thickened. (You can help it along with a pinch of cornstarch, too.) Incidentally, this is also what I put on pasta… I go through a lot of soy sauce.

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