International star(ch): Rice’s global reach

Tertulia’s Seamus Mullen, Uncle Boons’s Ann Redding and other New York chefs reflect on the importance of rice in Spain, Thailand and elsewhere.

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Rice is a quintessential staple in cuisines across many cultures. From sticky rice on the Thai table to risotto in the Italian canon, the grain nourishes eaters around the world. Here we talk to Jiro Dreams of Sushi protegé Daisuke Nakazawa, Chris Jaeckle of All’onda and more about the starch.


  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    China

    “There are certain things you can’t have without rice, like mapo tofu. You need the rice to usher in the salty, numbing profile. It’s the perfect foil.”—Danny Bowien, Mission Chinese Food

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Japan

    “We went through six types of Japanese rice before we found one we liked. For sushi, it’s important that the rice retains texture and taste after it has cooled down.”—Daisuke Nakazawa, Sushi Nakazawa

  • Photograph: Virginia Rollison

    Thailand

    “Food in Thailand is called kap khao—literally, ‘with rice’—so everything is centered around it. You were taught to finish everything on your plate because there’s a goddess of rice who would be upset.”—Ann Redding, Uncle Boons

  • Photograph: Christine Han

    Spain

    “Rice was introduced to Spain by the Moors, who arguably had the greatest culinary impact on the country. In many ways, rice represents the diverse, rich cultural history behind Spain.”—Seamus Mullen, Tertulia

  • Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

    The American South

    “From jambalaya to the South Carolina stew purloo, rice is an important part of the Southern diet. It absorbs the flavor of meat and seafood, and stretches more expensive ingredients.”—Craig Samuel, Marietta

  • Photograph: Ted Axelrod

    Italy

    “The Venetians do a curry risotto with Carnaroli rice, which is indigenous to the region. The port was very heavily involved in the spice trade in the 1400s, so it’s very traditional.”—Chris Jaeckle, All’onda

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

China

“There are certain things you can’t have without rice, like mapo tofu. You need the rice to usher in the salty, numbing profile. It’s the perfect foil.”—Danny Bowien, Mission Chinese Food


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