Adding variety to rice

Operators look beyond traditional white and brown to more exotic options.

Published in FSD Update

By 
Lindsey Ramsey, Contributing Editor

Rice has long been a staple of menus, but the usual white and brown varieties aren’t cutting it anymore. Many operators are incorporating more exotic varieties like basmati, jasmine and texmati to meet their clientele’s diverse dining needs. FSD spoke to several operators about how they are incorporating three of these rices into their menus.

Basmati rice

Perhaps the most commonly used of the more exotic rices, basmati is a great option for a wide variety of Asian and Indian dishes. At Miami University, in Oxford, Ohio, Eric Yung, executive chef, likes to use basmati in his pilafs because of how well the grains separate, so they don’t get sticky. For a recent Diwali celebration, the team used basmati rice for a pilaf that also featured saffron, fennel seeds, onions, celery, salt and pepper.

“For that pilaf, we’re just cooking it in water since many Indians are vegetarians,” Yung says. “Last year we used a vegetable stock, but it left the pilaf with a color that we didn’t like. The pilaf will be served as a side with a tandoori chicken, chicken tikka masala and a saag paneer.”

Because basmati has such a distinct flavor it works well with anything that is anise based, Yung adds. He also likes to pair basmati with caraway seed for a non-traditional pairing, or saffron. 

Saffron is also a key component in El Camino Hospital’s basmati rice, which is served as a hot side with several Indian and Asian dishes such as red lentil curry and grilled mahi mahi, according to Executive Chef Jacques Wilson at this hospital in Mountain View, Calif. 

“Basmati goes with anything from Asian to American food,” Wilson says. “Our main basmati pilaf is sautéed with celery, onions and carrots. It goes well with spicier-type items.” 

At Ohio State University, in Columbus, vegan and vegetarian options are in high demand at the café located in the fitness center, according to Lesa Holford, corporate executive chef. One popular wrap featured saffron basmati rice, garbanzo beans, carrots, peas and peppers. Holford says the department sold 674 in three weeks, which she says is a pretty good sell rate for that location. 

“Another thing we did at that location was use a bamboo rice for a wrap,” Holford says. “Bamboo rice is a short-grain rice that has been infused with chlorophyll from bamboo plants that makes the rice high in vitamin B. We just made a wrap with it that featured Thai vegetables, bamboo rice and an edamame bean purée on a tomato basil wrap.”

Jasmine rice

“We have a very diverse culture here and they really like jasmine rice,” Wilson says. “We’re trying to wean people off basic white rice toward [other options] like jasmine rice.” 

The side of steamed jasmine rice, which is offered every day, is served with dishes such as grilled salmon with spinach and artichokes and grilled mahi mahi with ginger, cilantro and lime. 

At Miami University, Chef Yung’s team serves jasmine rice with many of the university’s Thai offerings, such as Thai chicken skewers.

“Jasmine is also really interesting to use for cold rice salads,” Yung adds. “When they’re cold, a lot of rices do not absorb flavor well. Jasmine is a good option for something that you want to continue to take on flavor. We use it in a dish called gado-gado, which is a central Asian dish that is their equivalent of a seven-layer salad. We used it as a cold layered salad that we did out of our Asian concept. It has a peanut dressing, shredded lettuce, the jasmine rice, chopped eggs and sautéed vegetables that are chilled.”

Ohio State’s Holford also uses jasmine rice in a cold composed salad. One popular option features purple jasmine rice with pears, dried fruits and a curry vinaigrette. 

“It’s a real simple salad, Holford says. “The students really like the eye appeal of the purple jasmine. We’re trying to figure out how to incorporate some winter vegetables in it so it can go beyond the season.” Holford will add dried fruits when they are on hand. 

Texmati rice

Yung says texmati rice is good to try because it has great flavor profiles and is actually less expensive than basmati. Texmati is an American hybrid of basmati that is grown in Texas. 

“We use texmati for dishes that we want to be able to take on the flavor of the dish,” Yung says. “In a lot of our Latin concepts we use it as our default pilaf and we combine that with cilantro and lime. We roll it up in burritos or serve it as a hot side. It takes on those flavors really well, plus it stays really fluffy.”

Yung is also planning to introduce another non-traditional rice: red rice.

“We’ve put together a really neat station to help our students who have food allergies and those who want good vegan and vegetarian options,” Yung says of the station. “We wanted to find a rice that wasn’t very traditional to make this place special. We brought some in and tested it out and [the red rice] has such an unusual flavor. It has a little wild rice nuttiness going on it that everyone really liked. Plus, it presents so well.”

The red rice will be prepared as a pilaf, with a vegetarian stock infused with an Asian profile.

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
uber driver

The freelance, independent-contractor labor market known as the gig economy is distinguished by working short-term contracts, or gigs, such as driving for Uber, Lyft or Instacart.

The majority of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers by 2027, according to a study called “Freelancing in America: 2017,” conducted by Edelman Intelligence. The annual study, commissioned in partnership by the Freelancers Union and Upwork Global, estimates that 36% of the U.S. workforce consists of freelancers who contribute approximately $1.4 trillion annually—an increase of almost 30% over the...

Industry News & Opinion

Sturgeon Bay Schools in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., has partnered with a local farm to construct a school greenhouse , Green Bay Press Gazette reports.

Construction will begin soon, and the district says that the project is already 75% funded. Once the building is finished, students will be able to grow their own food at the greenhouse and then learn how to preserve it through canning and other methods.

“The greenhouse will provide students with the opportunity to grow food, sample food they have cultivated, design planting plans, tend seedlings, integrate real-life technology in...

Sponsored Content
eating mac and cheese

From AFP advanced food products llc

Some iconic food pairings have stood the test of time―peanut butter and jelly, spaghetti and meatballs, macaroni and cheese, just to name a few.

But, classic doesn’t mean boring or on the way out. In fact, there’s been a resurgence of mac and cheese on menus. According to 2018 data from Technomic’s MenuMonitor, mac and cheese menu mentions have grown by the following percentages over the past four years:

On the kids menu: 10.4% As an entree: 7.5% As a side/extra: 8.2%

In addition to increasing menu instances, noncommercial...

Sponsored Content
seafood salad

From High Liner Foods.

Seafood—whether it’s in the form of fish and chips or tuna salad—is a menu staple for many foodservice locations. But seafood doesn’t have to be limited to just the center of the plate—it shines on other parts of the menu as well, from soups and salads to sides and snacks.

Here are four ways that seafood and fish are moving outside of the main course.

Soups

Starting the meal with soup is common for many diners, and in noncommercial settings, there’s usually an array of soups available each day. According to Technomic’s 2017 Center of the...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code