In the West, people tend to pile their main dish atop rice and call it a day, but in many other cultures, rice is served with a variety of toppings so that it can be enjoyed aside from the main dish. Here are a few suggestions to garnish your rice with tasty toppings.
Image from tasteful_tn.
You might have heard of some of these items before, but if you don't have them at home, you should stock up and increase your flavour options when serving up rice. Even adding them in addition to a main dish will give you more flavour and texture, or you can also eat them with just a simple scoop of rice. Most of these can easily be found at your local Asian grocery store or online.
- Pickled vegetables: This topping brings both a tanginess and a sweetness as well as a ton of crunch. My favourites are umeboshi (plum), takuan (radish), rakkyo (onion) and kimchi.
- Fish roe: AKA fish eggs. You should look for ones that are smoked or salted because they pack more flavour.
- Egg: If you're daring, you can mix in a raw egg to hot rice and it will cook just slightly before you dig in. You can also fry or scramble an egg instead.
- Seaweed: You have many preparations to choose from with this topping. From marinated salads to dried strips or furikake (mix of seaweed and sesame seeds).
- Fish flakes: Dried, cured fish that is almost unrecognisable in flake form.
- Avocado: Make sure your avocado is perfectly ripe. You might want to add a bit of oil or sauce with this since it can be a little dry with only rice.
- Nutritional yeast: An umami bomb that adds a nutty, almost cheesy flavour. Sprinkle directly on the rice before other toppings are added.
- Leftover sauce: Rice makes a pretty good blank slate for any leftover sauce you have hanging around, like pesto, chilli or tahini.
If you have a favourite rice topping, share it in the discussion below so other people can give it a try! Make sure to mention any special preparation your topping needs or if there's a trick to eating it for maximum flavour.