Friday, October 04, 2013

Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 29 - It's "Just" Rice

It's been five years since I published an "official" numbered "Recipes for Real Men" recipe... Which is way too long. I've written a few posts on food and cooking and even published a few recipes in between, but I haven't done a "REAL" Recipe for REAL men so to speak, since Christmas 2008.

Time to fix that...

Rice is the most important staple food in the world. Some 75% of the worlds population depends on rice and rice based dishes for the majority of its caloric content.

Plain white rice, steamed or boiled, sticky or firm; is the basic starch for most dishes, in most cuisines, the world over.


It's plain.


It's just starch. It's plain, it's white, it's starch.

Without adulteration, or special preparation, plain white rice has very little flavor on its own. Though it offers a broad range of textures (depending on variety and preparation), on it's own, it offers no complexity or contrast (of flavor OR texture).

Or... it can be boring... but it doesn't have to be.

In a thread on The Guncounter "Things I didn't know about food" a few months back, I proclaim the virtues of even simple white rice, as a tasty meal:
CByrneIV: "For that matter, properly selected, properly made (and if appropriate seasoned) rice, is a revelation. 
Properly cooked medium or long grain rice, even if just cooked in salted water (or salted acidulated water); when cooked to the right degree of moistness and tenderness, is great with just a bit of butter and pepper, and maybe a bit of acid. 
I like to add a squeeze of citrus, a dash of vinegar, a dash of soy, a dash of hot sauce, a dash of prepared hot mustard etc... Maybe a tiny bit of fresh parsely, cilantro, or mint. Maybe a bit of Parmigiana or Romano, and some toasted pine nuts. 
I can eat a bowl of it, by itself, as a meal, no problem. 
For a bit more substance, just toss in come black or red beans (preferably simmered in flavorful liquid), maybe a bit of crushed up crispy bacon or crisped chopped ham, or some browned loose beef, pork,chicken or sausage. Or some combination thereof. 
It's not red beans and rice, but it's close enough; and it takes maybe ten minutes of prep, and 20-30 minutes of total cook time. 
Crush some fried noodles, fried wontons, fried tortillas/tortilla chips, or some ciccarones (pork rinds, beef rinds, crispy chicken or turkey skin) over it for some textural contrast."
So... white rice isn't necessarily "just white rice"...

But why limit yourself, to just plain old steamed or boiled white rice? There's a huge variety of seasonings, techniques, and additions to plain old white rice, that completely transform it.

White rice, because of its "plain" nature, can act as a canvas for an infinite variety of techniques, textures, and flavors.

A basic flavorful rice preparation is probably the most useful and versatile foundation, for either a side OR a main dish, that there is.

So... how do you get started with rice?

What are the basics?

How do you make something other than just "white rice"?

First, the rice...

There's a full range of rice varieties, and preparations, that can produce just about any texture and mouthfeel that you'd like (and pair with whatever flavors and textures you'd like).

Long Grain

For plain white rice (not to be used in a flavored rice dish, sushi, etc... ) or for a rice dish that uses loose, relatively dry rice with "stuff" mixed in; you're generally going to use a washed long grain rice. Basmati rice, or something similar is generally preferred, as it cooks clean, firm, tender, and loose, without being dry or sticky. It's also particularly useful as a foundation for dishes where a thick or creamy sauce will be a highlight, as it will not take on odd or unpleasant textures when topped with such sauces.

Medium Grain

Many flavored rice dishes will use a medium grain or one of the comparatively starchier softer varieties of long grain rice (which are generally grouped culinarily with medium grain rice), because they take and hold flavors better, and work better when actually served IN a sauce (as opposed to having say, meat in a sauce poured over the top of it).

Medium grain rices can also be good in twice cooked preparations like fried rice, crispy rice, or deep fried rice balls. Calrose rice (or rather one of its many derivative varietals) would be typical, as it's cheap, commonly available, and can cook up with very different textures depending on preparation.

In general, the shorter the rice, the lower the hard starch (amylose) , and higher the soft starch (amylopectin) content of it. The higher the soft starch content, the softer and more glutinous (not gluten as in the protein, glutin as in "gluey in texture") the rice will be (the lower amount of amylose dissolves into the water making the grain soft, the amylopectin gelatinizes with the heat and moisture, making it gluey).

Rice grain and Starch?

Rice's starch content can (and usually is) also be modified before final preparation through polishing, washing, parboiling, "converting", and other means.

The vast majority of rice sold in American supermarkets is polished (thus making it "white rice"); and some is polished and washed (reducing its starch content further). "Instant rice" or "minute rice" is "converted" (meaning it's washed, polished, parboiled, and dried under heat).

Of course, most any process acting on the rice is going to reduce its starch content, and modify the texture of the final cooked rice. You can even wash your own rice before cooking, to reduce the starches it will express into your dish while cooking.

Basically, you use polished and washed long grain rice for a drier or looser dish. Use unwashed long grain rice for a slightly moister or tighter dish.

Use a medium grain rice, with a bit of natural starch to it (a moderate starch variety, not washed), for a moister, tighter, and creamier dish; or if you want to make a crispy rice, crusted rice, or non-sticky rice balls. Wash your medium grain rice if you want a softer grain, but don't want a creamy or tight texture.

What About Short Grain?

Short grain rices are generally the starchiest rices... or rather those that give up their starch the most freely. They are really a more specialized rice, great for the specific preparations and dishes that need them, not very good for anything else.

Don't use a short grain, pearl rice, or "risotto rice" (there are several varieties of rice used in risotto, but the most common is arboreo); unless you want to make a true risotto, sticky rice, sticky rice balls, sushi rice, creamed rice, or rice pudding. Those are an entirely different topic (or really a couple of topics) that I'll cover in another post (or posts), at another time.

Right here and now, we're talking about full grain rice dishes, not modified grain dishes (that's what risottos and rice puddings are. The individual grains of rice express so much starch and soften so much, that they are completely different in texture from other rice dishes).

Ok, how about Brown Rice?

Brown rice is just what we call the unmilled, unpolished whole seed (with just the husk removed) of the various varieties of white rice; including the endosperm, whole bran, and germ (white rice is just the endosperm).

In general, you won't want to use brown rice in flavored rice dishes (though there are some that do).

Also, in general, being "brown" means that these rices are going to give up less starch, and do so slower, than white rices. This makes them tend toward the firmer, harder, and drier side when prepared.

Brown rice can be somewhat more flavorful on its own than a white rice, with a nuttier, toastier, "oatier" flavor. It is higher in fiber, and can be somewhat better nutritionally (having the bran and the germ attached). However, brown rice has an entirely different texture than white rice; it burns quite easily when cooked in fat, it doesn't absorb flavors in cooking as well, and it takes a fair bit longer to cook (because you have to soften the bran).

That said, in dishes where you are substituting rice for barley, cous cous, qinoa, lentils etc... Brown rice can be a better choice (BECAUSE of the protein and fat difference, the firmer texture, and textural contrast between the bran and the endosperm).

Brown rice is sometimes be a better foundation for a clean, fresh preparation of ingredients served on top of it than just a plain white rice. Brown rice can also make a better companion to wild rice in a dish.

Hmm...  Wild Rice then?

Wild rice isn't actually rice, in the conventional sense. It's actually the starchy seed of a river grass, closer to a wheat, oat, or barley than a true rice. It takes forever to cook, doesn't release starches, and cooks to a completely different flavor or texture than true rices.

That doesn't mean it can't be tasty, and doesn't make a good complement to other rice dishes.

For cooking, you can treat wild rice in many ways like a lentil, barley, or qinoa. It can be nice to add some parboiled wild rice (as can lentil, barley, or quinoa) to a flavored rice dish (especially a vegetarian dish, as they add both texture and protein), but it's not really suitable as the primary element of a "rice dish".

Generally, if added to another dish, wild rice varieties have to be parboiled first; because they can take hours to cook, vs. the 20-30 minutes of simmer time most medium or long grain rice dishes take.

Also, parboiled wild rice can make a good flavor and texture addition to a ricelike pasta dish, like fideo, orzo, risi, risoni, mittolini puntine etc... (or ricelike pasta can be added to a rice dish, for a textural and flavor variation).... but again, that's another topic for another day.

Okay, I know about rice(s)... Now... what technique and gear?

With plain rice, you'll usually cook it in a high sided pot, saucepan, or steamer (or a dedicated rice cooker, which amounts to the same thing).

When you're cooking in a high sided pot, the lower surface area; and higher thermal mass, retained moisture, and retained heat; help the rice to finish soft but firm, and moist but not wet (when the rice is mostly finished but not quite, you stir it up thoroughly; then take it off the heat, cover it, and let it finish using residual heat and moisture).

Most flavored rice dishes are a bit different.

You'll want to start with a relatively low sided, non stick, sautee pan, frying pan, saucier, or skillet (preferably with a lid); not a pot or straight sided saucepan.

The large surface area and low sides of these cooking vessels help you evenly and quickly cook the rice and seasonings in the fat at the beginning of the process; and to cook off the liquid to the desired texture at the end of the process.

The "secret" to a flavored rice dish, is that you "cook it twice"; first cooking seasonings and the rice grains out in a fat (to add flavor, improve texture, release and convert starches, and reduce simmer time), then simmering the dish out to your desired texture (NOT boiling or steaming)

Okay, now how do you actually cook it?

First, select and gather your rice, pan, fat(s), seasonings, flavorful liquid(s), and accompaniments (more on those below).

With a flavored rice dish, you want to have everything in place at the beginning if possible. You may also want to pre-cook some elements; for example rending flavorful fat out of bacon or sausage.

You're going to toast the rice in a flavorful fat, but you'll want to prep your seasonings first, because you'll be cooking them out into that fat either while you're toasting your ride, of before you add it.

Oh wait... we need to talk about the fat...

So... "flavorful fat"... what exactly do I mean by that?

Well, your choice of fat is crucial to a flavored rice dish, especially a creamier, saucier rice dish.

You won't be draining the fat (or at least not all of it) out of the pan, it's going to end up in every spoonful of your dish. Given that, you're going to want to start your dish with a fat that you're going to enjoy eating at the end. A fat that cooks well, and ends up with good flavor and texture in the dish.

As always, every element of a dish should "do something"; even the pan, and the oil, you are cooking it in. If you aren't improving texture, or flavor, or mouth feel etc... with every element...

...well, why not, when you could be?

Most of the time, for my flavored rice dishes, I like to use "a bit too much" butter (about 2tblsp per cup of dry rice) that's been cooked out to nutbrown; because I like the flavor, and I like how well it toasts the rice, and the aromatics.

Butter has some disadvantages though. It has a high water content, so you have to cook it out before can toast or saute effectively. Also, it has a low smoke point; and because it has a lot of dairy solids (which add flavor and texture to foods cooked in butter, and enhance browning), it can be very easy to overheat and induce off flavors, or simply burn it.

I still like using regular butter though, because I prefer the flavor.

If it's handy, you can use clarified butter, which still retains some butter flavor, aroma, and mouthfeel; while offering a higher smoke point (and no dairy solids to accidentally burn). Many Indian flavored rice dishes begin with clarified butter for example (including the classic rice pilaf).

You can also use a rendered flavorful animal fat, like bacon fat, sausage fat, beef fat, or schmaltz. They have a higher smoke point, and lower solid content than butter, but still give great flavor (just watch the salt content). And you can always mix them with butter to get both flavor profiles.

Just as an example, natural homemade, or local deli made, schmaltz; is almost ideal for making a creamy rice dish (commercial "mass produced" schmaltz is garbage, and it goes rancid or picks up off flavors quickly. That's why it's not found in most markets).

Schmaltz produces a spectacular flavor and mouth feel that can't easily be replicated with any other fat (that's why commercial matzah balls never have anything approaching home made flavor or texture by the way... no schmaltz).

In fact... just sauteing rice in schmaltz, then using chicken stock or broth (maybe with a bit of acid added, like white wine, vinegar, or lemon juice) as the cooking liquid, makes a really spectacular rice side dish. It has a deep chicken flavor that you don't quite get in any dish made without schmaltz.

If you're already making some bacon, sausage, ham, sauteed chicken etc... for the dish, you might as well use that highly flavorful fat to toast the rice as well (if you are using fresh uncured whole pieces of meat, undercook it just a bit so you can finish it hot in the pan at the end).

...Doubly so if you're making a rice and beans dish; so you can sautee the beans in the fat as well (either before, or with, the rice; depending on the respective cooking times and preparations of each).

Oh and  if you don't have enough volume of flavorful fat after you've cooked out your meats, you can always just add some butter.

For non-lacto vegetarians (or if you don't have, or don't like butter; or need to use a shelf stable fat), you can use any light oil that has a reasonable smoke point; but I strongly recommend using a flavorful oil.

A light olive oil (don't bother with a fine EV, sauteing with it will burn off the delicate flavor anyway), peanut oil, sesame oil, or a prepared flavored oil like a chili or herb oils, can add a big dose of flavor.

Actually, if you're cooking large chunks of meats or veggies, you're often better off using a light vegetable or light nut oil over an animal fat; simply because of their clean cooking characteristics.

Vegetable and lighter nut oils generally cook at a higher temperature than animal fats without burning, smoking, or developing off flavors (excepting ultrarefined pure lard, which is the only common animal fat that has very high smokepoint; but has very little flavor compared to other animal fats). This drives moisture off the surface of the meat or veggies faster, producing better browning and crust.

Unfortunately, many flavorful oils (and fats in general) have low smoke points, are not shelf stable, or are just damned expensive; but you can preserve their flavor in the cooking process by mixing a stronger flavored oil, with a lighter more neutral oil; or by mixing an animal fat with a vegetable fat.

You can also preserve flavor of a lower smoke point fat by cooking longer at a lower temperature (so long as you aren't sauteeing big chunks of meat or vegetables, which will tend to express too much liquid -and in the case of veggies, develop mushy texture; or for some meats can get tough- when cooked at lower temperature).

Toasting rice in oil (particularly with aromatic seasonings) is an application that is very well suited to cooking slower at a lower temperature. This makes it easier to get the rice (and the aromatics, garlic, rosemary etc...) very well toasted, without accidentally overbrowning.

I often like using a mixture of a bit of light neutral or flavorful nut or vegetable oil (olive oil, peanut oil, or sesame oil) and a bit of butter (cooked out in the oil to nut brown); particularly if I'm cooking some meat or vegetables in the fat. This gives me some of the advantages of each type of fat, and enhances browning (the dairy solids in the butter coat the food being browned).

You can also use a mix of a highly refined but relatively low flavor animal fat like lard, with butter; to retain some of the flavor characteristics.

Basically, you get some the harder sear of the vegetable oil or lard, but still retain some of the nutty, savory, rich flavors of cooked butter. You just have to make sure that you brown, but don't burn, the buttersolids.

Really, you can use anything you like, so long as every step and every ingredient is ADDING FLAVOR, or improving texture, or preferably both.

Just don't use "vegetable oil" or "shortening" or god forbid Margarine...

...In fact, never, ever, under any circumstances, use margarine for ANYTHING. 

It's not food... it's lubricant made solid through hydrogenation...

Okay... got the fat thing... now... what do I actually DO with the fat?

You cook with it...

Okay okay, yeah I'm being a wise ass... it IS me after all...

To be serious for a second, your goal here is to build flavor, and improve texture; while also reducing the total cooking time of the rice.

The foundation of a flavored rice dish, is the flavorful fat, followed by the aromatics and seasonings.

Start out by with bit of garlic, cracked peppercorns, maybe some pickled peppercorns, a bit of paprika (smoked paprika if you have it), a bit of ground hot mustard, and whatever other seasonings (or vegetables or accompaniments that may need to start cooking now).

Cook the seasonings out in your flavorful fat before you add the rice, if you want a bit deeper, and more complex flavor; especially if you're using either whole or fresh cracked spices, or a prepared spice blend (to cook out the graininess).

I should explain a bit about the mustard before we go on

Mustard is a flavor kicker, that wakes up the sense of taste and smell; as well as helping to emulsify the fat and flavorful liquid. It's important, so don't leave it out. If you don't like the taste of yellow mustard, don't worry about it. Ground hot mustard tastes nothing like yellow mustard, and when used as described, it doesn't really add any kind of "mustardy" flavor.

Remember, this is all about building flavor

The bulk of the dish is going to be rice... probably white rice... which means every step of the way, you should be building as much flavor as possible. I keep harping on that, because it's really important. Otherwise, you're just having "some rice".

While you're toasting the seasonings out, you can add a dash of either neutral spirit to extract more flavor from the spices; or some flavorful spirit (I like a bit of bourbon, cognac, or triple sec, depending on the flavor profile I'm looking for, or looking to complement) to both extract more, and add some complementary flavors and aromas (you get a great overtone with a sweet, well flavored liquor). Literally, add just a splash, and let it cook off (flame it off if you feel like being showy).

There are certain flavors that are greatly enhanced and better extracted, with a bit of alcohol. This is especially true of hotter and smokier flavored spices (like chili peppers).

If you're doing aromatic vegetables, like a trinity or sofrito, you do that next, in the same pan, with your flavorful spice infused fat.

Once you've added as much flavor to your fat as you're going to, you saute the rice in it... In fact, you're sauteing to the point of toasting it.

Just before the rice is "overdone" in the fat (seriously, you want this stuff smelling like popcorn almost. Just before it starts to get bitter and burned is the maximum point of flavor), deglaze the pan, and then douse the rice with just enough flavorful liquid to keep it simmering for 20-30 minutes without having to stir it more than occasionally (usually about 2 cups of liquid per cup of rice).

For my flavorful liquid (more on that below), I generally prefer chicken broth, or chicken stock, even when served with something other than chicken. I give it a bit of kick with some acid, like lemon juice, vinegar, or white wine.

Pork or Beef broth or stock both work as well, but I think chicken gives a better depth of flavor (even when served with pork or beef). Vegetable broth or stock will serve for vegetarians. Fruit juice mixed with water can work very well depending on what kind of flavors you're going for. Even a little acidulated aromatic water will do.

Always have enough flavorful liquid to reserve some to make textural adjustments. It's better to start off too dry, and have to add more liquid in cooking, than to have to cook some off and ruin the texture of your rice.

Simmer it slow (do not let it come to a full boil. That'll make it hard to get a good final texture) until you can clear the pan with a wooden spoon, and taste it. If the rice is tender but not quite "done", you're good. If not, add a few more ounces of flavorful liquid, and cook that out 'til the texture is right.

Towards the end of cooking, I may add a bit of (or more) butter, for improved mouthfeel and flavor, particular if it's going to be a slightly (or very) creamy dish.

Once you're at that point, you can just cook it the remaining moisture off 'til it's whatever texture you'd like. You can stir it just enough to keep it from sticking or scorching, and you'll get a drier, more separated rice. Or, you can stir it constantly, adding a bit more liquid as you go, to get a softer, moister, creamier rice.

You can add a dash of cream or half and half at this point if you want a mock risotto. You can add cream in twice, once with the initial dousing, once at this point, if you want a creamier, saucier, mock risotto. You can also add some cream cheese in if you want a thicker, creamier sauce with a silkier mouth feel (especially if your rice isn't as starchy as it needs to be).

Finish with some shaved hard aged cheese, a bit of fresh cracked pepper, maybe some toasted pinenuts or almond slices, maybe a bit of fresh parsley or cilantro, maybe squeeze of fresh citrus (lemon, lime, whatever you like), maybe a dash of vinegar or soy...

This is the basis of any flavored rice dish. You've got pretty much infinite options from here:

If you're serving with beef, pork or poultry; add in some cumin, some fennel pods, and a bit of rosemary (with the seasonings). A bit of sage, thyme, or marjoram on top of that go especially well with poultry or pork, but not as well with beef.

If you'd like a bit of indian flavor, add some ground cardamom, and toasted green cardamom pods, a bit of ginger, turmeric, galangal, and fenugreek (or just some garam masala, but make sure you cook it out in the butter, just like the other spices etc..); and finish with some currants and almonds (and some indian or greek yoghurt if you want it creamy).

For thai, start with cumin, ginger, a bit of cilantro, some small dried hot peppers. Add some green curry paste, fine slivered leeks, and coconut milk in with the liquid. Finish with more cilantro, chopped chives, cashews, maybe a bit of chopped lemon grass, and a bit of yogurt, coconut cream, or half and half.

For mexican, start with cumin, some diced green chili, cilantro, a dash of cinnamon; and add some vinegar based hot sauce in with the liquid.

Kicking up the flavor some more... making it "meaty" with or without meat...

One of the key points in building flavor, is to never use water when you can use a flavorful liquid instead.

In most cases where you'd use water, using a broth or stock (so long as you keep an eye on your overall salt and acid) will almost always produce a more flavorful, and better textured, result.

Even when you're just boiling, it makes sense to use acidulated water; adding a bit of broth or bullion, some vinegar or hot sauce, some fresh citrus, salt, aromatics etc... Hell, even for pasta, potatoes, or other starches or vegetables, (unless doing so would modify the starches or proteins of what you're doing in an undesirable way), you'll get more flavor with adulterated water.

The point is to always be adding flavor, not just liquid.

If you don't have a stock or broth handy, you can make a basic aromatic acidulated liquid with about 90 seconds of prep.

Just add salt, cracked black pepper, malt vinegar or vinegar based fermented pepper hot sauce, some soy sauce, some worcestershire sauce, some fresh chopped up up and squeezed citrus (with the rind), and some fresh aromatic herbs (and maybe a trinity, sofrito, or mire poix).

Add some apple juice, orange juice, lemon juice, grape juice, or wine if you have some.

Simmer it all together for about 10 minutes (without letting it boil) for a brighter, fresher flavor; or boil it for 90 seconds to five minutes.

In classical technique terms, that's a basic court-bullion right there.

You can make a vegetable stock or broth pretty simply (and cheaply), in just a few minutes more.

Chop up and sauté in oil (or butter if you're not making it vegetarian. I like a light but flavorful cold pressed but not extra-virgin olive oil), some garlic, onions, peppers, carrots, and celery; with cracked black pepper, hot mustard, cumin, fennel, sage, thyme, and rosemary.

If you can salt and rest the chopped veggies an hour before you make your broth, you'll get a better result.

Add in some mushrooms or dried mushroom if you like. Dried mushrooms especially can add a lot of umami to a vegetable broth. You can add some nice dried tomatoes, as an umami booster as well.

Sauté them all 'til lightly browned, or even properly caramelized. The longer you cook the veggies, the less "fresh" flavor you'll get, but more depth of flavor, and umami you get.

In general, no matter what flavor profile I'm going for, I like to add some umami and flavor kickers to my flavorful liquid.

I like to add some vinegar based hot sauce; or some malt, wine, cider, or balsamic vinegar (anything that has been naturally fermented). This adds umami and depth of flavor. You can also add a bit of soy, and a bit of worcestershire sauce at this stage to build even more depth of flavor and umami.

Be sure to use a natural brewed soy, otherwise you don't get the big glutamate hit. Soy goes into almost anything that has salt (which is almost anything) as a flavor enhancer (just be careful of total salt content). Soy doesn't make food taste"asian" unless you use a lot of it, or add something like hoisin, plum suce, fish sauce etc...

I put a dash of soy, and a dash of a fermented pepper hot sauce in almost everything, to help wake up the pallet and enhance umami.

Remember, you're not going for a final flavor here, you're just adding that extra bit of depth, complexity, and savory feel.

So.... Is there any actual specific recipe stuff here?

Ehh... not really... that's kinda the point of flavorful rice dishes... It's more about technique, and options, and ideas than it is about a recipe.

To make a beautiful vegetarian main dish, fine chop and sweat some onion, pepper, and celery in when you're toasting the rice (maybe some asparagus tops too); then toss in some chopped or shredded carrots in with the liquid, and maybe some baby broccoli florets, snap peas, sprouts etc...

You can add in some lentils cooked in chicken broth, cooked red or black beans, or some cubed, sauteed, firm tofu; if you want to boost the protein.

Some fresh some chopped, seeded, salted, and drained tomatoes (or canned crushed, whole, or chopped tomatoes) can be added at this point if you like (you can peel them if you like, but it's not necessary. Just chop them very fine if they aren't peeled). They'll also add a bit of freshness, some sweetness and acidity, and some depth of flavor. Sautee them out 'til they're almost browned into a paste, and you'll add a lot of umami (at the expense of freshness and sweetness).

If you add fresh or canned (peeled, seeded) tomatoes, a bit of fresh basil and fresh oregano would be highly complementary.

For a very much NOT vegetarian dish, add in some cooked red or black beans and some sliced and crisped spanish chorizo or portuguese linguica, or some marinated and sauteed chicken pieces.

For dirty rice, saute some andouille or linguica (or taso if you can get it), and some chicken livers, and toss that in with some chicken flavored rice; with some red or black beans.

Red beans and rice isn't far off from this.. and the same basic techniques can be used in making the New Orleans classic. Soak the beans first, and saute them in the fat before you add the rice (to equalize cooking time).

Or for a variant on the most basic fundamental singaporan dish there is, make a chicken flavored rice base, and serve with boiled chicken on top, for "chicken rice".

Oh... and most of these dishes can be very easily converted into soups or stews, just by adding more stock or broth at the end of cooking; along with perhaps a bit more acid, some hard cheese, and more beans or meat (and more dairy for creamier soups).

Really, there's just an infinite variety available to you.

And be sure to check out:

Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 28 - The Nog Abides
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 27 - That's too turducken hard

Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 26 - Hot Smoke
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 25 - That's a Spicy Polpette
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 24 - It's Meat, in Loaf Form
Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 23 - Some Like it Hot
Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 22 - Full Fat, Full Dairy, All Killer, No Filler
Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 21 - Forget About the Dough Boy
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 20 - QDCBS (Quick and Dirty Chili Bean Stew)
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 19 - Chicken Salmonella
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 18 - I'll give YOU a good stuffing turkey (1)
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 17 - REAL Coffee
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 16 - DTG (Damn That's Good) dip
Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 15 - More Chocolate Than Cookie
Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 14 - Millions of Peaches
Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 13 - Mels 10,000 Calorie Butter Cookies
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 12 - Lard Ass Wings
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 11 - Bacon Double Macaroni and Cheese
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 10 - It's the meat stupid
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 9 - Labor Day Potatos
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 8 - It's a pork fat thing
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 7 - It may not be Kosher...
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 6 - Andouille Guiness Chili
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 5 - Eazza the Ultimate Pizza
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 4 - Two Pound Meat Sauce
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 3 - Highbrow Hash
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 2 - MuscleCarbonara
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 1 - More Beef than Stew