Spanish rice is a perfect compliment to many Mexican dishes. This fluffy long gain rice is browned with a little oil fist and then cooked in a tomato flavored broth with tomatoes, onions, and garlic. Finish the rice with some freshly minced cilantro and serve it with your favorite enchiladas, tacos, and burritos.
Spanish rice is also known as Mexican rice and it is actually not a Spanish recipe at all. Spanish rice based dishes, like Paella, actually feature saffron and not tomato based rice. Tomato based rice is a Mexican way of cooking rice.
My enchiladas always feel so empty without some Spanish Rice next to it. It truly is a perfect compliment to enchiladas with tomato sauce, fajitas, tacos, and so much more. You can even take your burritos up a notch and use this tomato rice instead of regular white rice.
This rice is also very easy to prepare, much easier than many people assume. I’ve had my friend as me for a recipe and the second I say “brown rice first before adding broth and water,” they check out and say that it’s too much work. But, it’s truly not! The whole process of making this rice will take about 40 minutes and most of it is just letting rice cook.
Why do I need to fry rice before boiling?
So to answer several of my friends who ask me this question and in anticipation of this question from many of my readers, I will answer it now.
There are two main reasons for frying rice first and that is taste and texture. Browning rice first in a pan with a little oil will help keep rice as individual grains and not get mushy. Frying it first will help prevent rice from sticking together while simmering.
While rice is browning, you will start noticing a nutty aroma, which will translate into the way rice will taste. This will add another layer of flavor to the whole dish.
Why was my Spanish rice mushy?
Another reason many people avoid making this rice dish is because it can get mushy. It’s happened to me in the past, before I knew how to prevent it. I’ve made every mistake people make when cooking Spanish rice.
Make sure to take the extra step of browning the rice in a frying pan before cooking it in liquid. Preheat the cooking pan and the oil first, then add rice and mix it to coat all the grains with oil. Then, fry it over medium heat until it starts turning brown. (After it starts turning brown, you will start to add other ingredients.)
One thing I’ve noticed also works better is not moving the rice from pan to pan. I make sure to use a large, deep pan to fry the rice and then add the liquid right to the same pan. Make sure you have a lid that fits that pan because the pan will need to be covered with a lid.
Do not bother the rice once you add the liquid! This is a big one. Do not stir or open the lid until all liquid has been absorbed by the rice. After you add the liquid and spices, stir 1 time to mix, cover the pan with the lid, lower the heat, and do not touch it until liquid is absorbed. That will take about 20 minutes.
Take the pan off heat, take off the lid, and you can fluff it up with a fork and serve.
ADDITIONAL FLAVORS TO ADD TO SPANISH RICE
Make your Spanish rice with a spicy kick by adding some diced jalapeno peppers with onions and tomatoes. Spice level can be adjusted with older or younger jalapenos. Older jalapenos are much spicier than young jalapenos. You can also leave jalapeno seeds in for more spice.
You can also add corn and black beans when adding onions and tomatoes. Adding corn and beans will be great if making a chicken and Spanish rice bowl. Just add cooked chicken on top of rice and serve with sour cream and guacamole.
Try adding other veggies like diced bell peppers at the same time as onions and tomatoes too.
Squeeze some fresh lime juice to cooked rice when mixing in cilantro to add beautiful citrus flavors.
HOW TO REHEAT SPANISH RICE
The worst part about having leftover rice in the fridge is that it becomes dry because it looses a lot of moisture. So when reheating the rice, it’s important to add some of the moisture back.
Reheating rice in the microwave
You can easily and quickly reheat the rice in the microwave. Place leftover rice in a bowl and add a couple of tablespoons of chicken broth or water to the rice. Amount of water will depend on how much rice you are reheating.
Cover the bowl either with a microwave lid or you can place another bowl upside down on top of the rice bowl. Reheat it for about a minute. Exact time will vary depending on the amount of rice.
Reheating rice in a pan
You can also reheat rice in a sauce pot or a small cooking pan. Add a little oil to the pan if needed (you probably won’t need any oil if using a non-stick pan).
Add leftover rice and a couple of tablespoons of water and mix. Amount of water will depend on how much rice you are reheating. Cover the pan with a lid and let it heat through over medium-low heat.
SOME MORE RECIPES TO TRY
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- 1 1/2 cups uncooked long grain rice
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1/2 cup diced yellow or red onion
- 1 tomato diced
- 3 garlic cloves pressed
- 1 cup water
- 2 cup chicken broth
- 8 oz can tomato sauce
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
- Preheat the cooking pan and the oil first, then add rice and mix it to coat all the grains with oil.
- Fry rice over medium heat until it starts turning brown. Stir from time to time.
- When rice starts turning brown, add onion, tomato, and garlic. Stir and cook for a couple more minutes.
- Raise the heat to medium-high and add water, chicken broth, tomato sauce, cumin, and salt. Slowly stir to mix and bring it to simmer.
- As soon as it starts to simmer, cover the pan with a lid and turn down the heat to low.
- Let rice cook. Do not stir or open the lid until all liquid has been absorbed by the rice. This will take about 20 minutes.
- Once rice has absorbed the liquid, take the pan off the heat and take the lid off. Fluff rice with a fork and add cilantro.
Originally published on Will Cook For Smiles on September 15, 2011. Updated April 30, 2019.