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The Role of Rice in Asian Cultures

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One of the many things that the Western part of the world would not completely understand is how important rice is to Asian people. Therefore, it is not a secret that the other parts of the globe cannot make rice the way Asian people do. Some even think that rice is part of the instant food group that can be cooked in under five minutes. Well, if you are one of these people, there is no judgment here. However, we would not be talking about how to make rice, but instead, tell you the many ways Asian people make it supreme.

So whether you are going to Kyoto, Japan, or spending your holidays on a Jiufen day tour in Taiwan, you will be interested in how creative Asian people can be with rice.

Rice as the Primary Source of Carbs

People need carbs to have the energy to function, and Asian people have rice as their main carbs for at least all their lives. Well, there are, of course, cases of exemptions, but for most Asians, rice is their staple food. Potatoes are usually considered a vegetable, and bread is a snack. Asian people love their rice.

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Singapore, for example, has its famous Hainanese chicken rice that everyone thought of it as its national dish. Singapore is not the only one to have chicken rice as its national delicacy, but they have perfected the humble plate of rice, chicken, soy garlic dip, and chili sauce. It might seem easy enough, but you would never have a plate as good as the one you can find in Chin Chin Eating House in Purvis Street.

Another example is how most Asian households fry rice as well. It is akin to how the Spanish have Mediterranean paellas, only, in this case, Asians fry rice with herbs and different spices to add flavor and still eat it with side dishes that are usually meats. Fried rice can even be cooked with egg, Korea’s kimchi, and even with the meat itself.

Rice as Soup

Europeans have their porridge, and Americans have their oatmeal and cereals. Well, Asians have congee. Congee is the widely-accepted term for Asian rice soup, but note that there are different terms for this dish across the whole continent and different variations. However, let us stick with the most basic one. Congee is made of white rice, stock soup, salt, and ginger. Although it sounds pretty bland, it is not. Congee is what Asian people love to substitute rice with during the rainy days and when the weather is good enough for a bowl of soup (but still needs rice). It is already good enough the way it is, but there are times when other Asian countries like to be creative.

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In the Philippines, congee can include chicken strips, ox-tripe, pork belly, fried garlic, and onion leaves, and then partnered with fried tofu. Sounds overwhelming? Sure, but in an excellent complimentary way. The same way the country’s favorite dessert, halo-halo, is confusing tourists with its ingredients which include rice pops.

Rice as Dessert

Furthermore, Asian people can make amazing desserts with rice. You might be wondering why a source of carbs is paired with sugar. Before you judge rice as dessert, let us talk about how Japan made the most amazing one in the world.

We cannot talk about rice and not mention Japan. Even today, the Land of the Rising Sun is making global strides in terms of leading this side of the world. From the economy, culture, and even food, the country simply does not disappoint, especially when they make mochi.

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Japan’s mochi is a bite-sized rice cake that has already become an internationally-famous treat. Everyone would have thought that we would talk about sushi, but mochi beats it off the list for being both sweet and savory inside. Even with flavors such as match a and white chocolates, mochiadzuki bean filling still stands out, which gives it its fine texture. Making mochi has been a Japanese tradition for a long time, being passed down from one generation to the next, thus making this dessert more famous than Japanese ice cream.

Rice might be something that intrigues the Western part of the world, but for Asian people, it is everything. From being a staple food to desserts and even wine, rice is one of the many things that make up the Asian community. But even if you aren’t from Asia, you can still try to perfect rice dishes. Hopefully, this article inspires you to do so.

About Chef Lilian

Your favorite recipe author, faithful to every course. Mail me at chef@foodwellsaid.com

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