Do we really need a recipe to make steamed rice 'aromatic'? Well, I wasn't so sure myself, but the reason I paused to consider was because this recipe is from Tom Douglas. If you haven't had the opportunity to eat his food, please please come to Seattle and do so. He owns many restaurants here, but my favorites are Dahlia Lounge and Lola.
Well, all I can say is that he has done it again. The aroma from this 'aromatic' rice is just unbelievable. It takes steamed white rice to a whole another level. This might just be my favorite recipe for rice to accompany something delicate like fish and maybe chicken poached with Asian flavors. We had this with Miso Glazed Wild King Salmon and a simply stir-fried Gai-Lan.Try this the next time you want to waken up your olfactory senses. And it tastes just sublime.
2 cups japanese short-grain rice
1 stalk lemongrass
2 cups cold water
3 coins of unpeeled fresh ginger, skin-on
3 star anise
zest from one orange, organic please (large, wide strips with a vegetable peeler)
1. Place raw rice in a fine-mesh strainer. Rinse well under cold running water until water runs clear. Drain well.
2. Smash the lemongrass stalk with the back of knife to release essence. Slice thinly lengthwise (you can wrap this in a cheesecloth if you like, but I didn't. It was easy enough to pick the stalks out after the rice cooked)
3. In a 3-4 quart saucepan, combine the rice and water. Add ginger, lemongrass, star anise and zest and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently until all the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes (Please do not open the cover and peek before 20 minutes). Take pot off heat and let sit, covered for 10 more minutes. This gives the grains a chance to set and prevents mushy rice.
4. Remove the lemongrass and other aromatics. Fluff the rice gently with a fork and serve while hot.
Note: Leftover rice is delicious. To reheat, simply place in a microwave-safe glass bowl, cover with paper towel or plastic wrap and heat in microwave.