Two great rice recipes that you can make entirely in the microwave in a matter of minutes.

Rice is the cornerstone of Japan’s food culture, and just about every foodie in the country will find their spirits pick up when they’ve got a bowl of freshly cooked rice, straight from the rice cooker and with steam still rising off of it, in front of them. Things get a little more complicated, though, with “pack rice.”

Pack rice is what Japan calls individual serving-sized packs of rice that you cook in the microwave. Since they have a long shelf life and cook in just three minutes, they’re convenient to keep a stock of in your cupboard. But though pack rice tastes pretty good, it’s still not as flavorful and fluffy as regular, from the rice-cooker rice.

Basically, pack rice is a compromise, so it’s hard to come away feeling completely satisfied with it…or at least that was our experience until we tried out some special pack rice recipes from the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives Group’s National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations, which also goes by the mercifully succinct name Zen-Noh.

Zen-Noh wisely realizes that if you don’t have time to make a whole pot of rice the traditional way, you probably don’t have time for much complex cooking either, and so the recipes are short and simple, and require only a microwave for the cooking.

First up is the pack rice risotto.

● Pack rice
● Milk (3 tablespoons)
● Bacon
● Shimeji mushrooms
● Salt
● Pepper
● Shredded pizza cheese

Step 1: Cook the pack rice in the microwave

Step 2: Once the rice is cooked, take the pack out of the microwave and pour the milk over it. Cover the rice with the bacon and shimeji mushrooms, sprinkle on the salt and pepper, and add a layer of cheese over everything.

Step 3: Cover the pack with plastic wrap and put it back in the microwave for one more minute (we set ours to cook at 500 watts).

After our pack’s second stint in the microwave, we now had a hot, melty meal in front of us. Initially, we’d worried that the recipe called for too much milk, but it turned out to be just right. The meaty bacon and salt notes delighted our taste buds and stimulated our appetite too, making the rice below, onto which all of the seasonings and juices had dripped down to and soaked into, deeply delicious and superbly satisfying. Since we’d used pre-sliced packs of bacon and shimeji, we didn’t even need to bother with a knife or cutting board, and the entire process took just five minutes.

Next, Zen-Noh has a pack rice recipe for one of Japan’s favorite comfort foods: rice omelets, also known as “omrice” or “omuraisu.”

Actually, they call the recipe “Ikinari Omuraisu,” or “Suddenly Rice Omelet,” in light of how speedy the process is. For this one, our ingredients were

● Pack rice
● Bacon
● Green peppers
● Ketchup
● Salt
● Pepper
● Mayonnaise
● Egg (1)

Step 1: Cook the pack rice in the microwave

Step 2: Once the rice is cooked, take the pack out of the microwave and add the bacon, peppers, ketchup, salt, and pepper. Mix until everything is evenly distributed.

Step 3: Cover the mixture with a layer of mayonnaise, then make an indention in the center.

Step 4: Crack and beat the egg in a separate bowl, then pour it into the indention.

Step 5: Cover the pack with plastic wrap, and put it back in the microwave for two more minutes.

This one was a little more involved than the risotto recipe, since we had to cut the peppers ourselves (but that’s really on us, since the peppers aren’t in Zen-Noh’s recipe but are a flourish we chose to add). The extra effort was worth it, though, as this came out tasting great and with only a fraction of the effort and cooking equipment that goes into making rice omelets the orthodox way.

▼ Speaking of flourishes, adding an artistic drizzle of ketchup to the top after all the cooking is done will give you extra style points.

▼ Zen-Noh’s recipe tweets

Armed with these clever ideas, our stockpiles of pack rice are looking less like can’t-be-helped compromises and more like opportunities for culinary creativity. And if you’re committed to the time commitment of cooking rice in your rice cooker only, don’t worry, because Zen-Noh has great recipes for that too.

Source: Twitter/@noricenolife17 (1, 2)
Photos ©SoraNews24
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