In the past few months, products like Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s, whose branding is based on racial stereotypes, have pledged to change their imagery and logos. Mars, the parent company to Uncle Ben’s, is now giving us a preview of what that will look like for the rice brand.
The products will now go under the name “Ben’s Original,” and will be used to attempt to “create a more inclusive future,” according to a press release. While the orange and blue colors will stay the same, the imagery on the packages, as well as the name, are officially retired.
“We understand the inequities that were associated with the name and face of the previous brand, and as we announced in June, we have committed to change,” said Fiona Dawson, Global President of Mars Food, Multisales and Global Customers, said in the press release.
Mars isn’t just changing its packaging in response to the current global Black Lives Matter protests. The company has also partnered its new brand with the National Urban League to create a scholarship fund for aspiring black chefs. They will also work together to support other underserved communities globally.
One of those communities is in the hometown of Ben’s Original, Greenville, Mississippi. Mars is pledging to invest in the local community by increasing food accessibility and security while enhancing educational opportunities for students in the area.
As for the rice products themselves, they will have the new packaging and brand name starting in 2021 as Uncle Ben’s branding is phased off of shelves.
While we’re here in the states enjoy our Kentucky Fried Chicken with a fresh buttery biscuit and some dangerously sweet honey sauce, Japanese Foodbeasts on the other side of the world have discovered a game-changing method for fans of the fried chicken chain.
Nextshark reports that a new KFC trend has been sweeping Japan that anyone with a rice cooker must try ASAP.
Called “KFC Japanese Rice,” you take a rice cooker and fill it with rice, chicken stock, and a bit of soy sauce. Then, take two pieces of the Colonel’s Original Recipe Chicken and set it inside the cooker and turn it on.
After the rice is cooked, shred the chicken and mix it into the rice. The result seems to be a wildly flavorful rendition of rice paired with the 11 herbs and spices that make KFC insanely popular in Japan.
Definitely something to consider the next time we order a bucket of the Colonel’s chicken and want to meal prep for the rest of the week.
Wonder how this trick will fare with Popeyes chicken, though?
Tucked away in a block on North Figueroa Street in Los Angeles’ historic Highland Park neighborhood lies Otono, a charming Spanish restaurant that you may miss upon first look. While the kitchen space is smaller than most restaurants — six burners, a couple ovens, and a narrow prep station — head chef Theresa Montaño makes up for it by expanding the flavors of her cuisine on an immense scale.
Montaño grew up cooking with her mother and grandmother in New Mexico, instilling a love of the culinary arts in her at such an early age.
“I grew up in a big Hispanic family, so food was a part of that,” she laughed.
Otono’s arroz y fideua, also known as paella, are some of the most popular dishes on the restaurant’s menu. Montaño mentions on a busy night, Otono could sell as many as 50 orders of paella.
Traditionally, a properly made paella could take anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour to cook. With 50 orders a night, in such a small kitchen space, those numbers can seem daunting, but Chef Montaño doesn’t bat an eye.
That’s because she has perfected her paella dish to be done in a matter of 15 minutes, a feat that took her years to master, and is a necessary one to become successful in Otono’s kitchen setting.
The key to this, she shares, lies in the preparation.
Before Chef Montaño even opened the doors of Otono, she began the streamlining process.
Essentially, all the elements of a proper paella are there, but Montaño found a way to shift the flavors into different components to speed up the preparation and cooking process. First, the rice is half-cooked ahead of time and infused with a rich broth. Then Montano creates a flavorful Samora paste that’s made from tomatoes, saffron, and mild chiles that combines with the rice during the cooking process. Once they all come together, the dish tastes exactly as it would had it been cooked another 15 or 20 minutes longer.
With only six burners in her kitchen and two of said burners required for each paella pan, adapting was non-negotiable in such a bustling environment.
Her movement through the kitchen was seamless, slicing fresh vegetables, chorizo, scallops, and all the fresh ingredients required to craft her multiple paellas. Containers of partially-cooked rice and flavorful broths were all measured out and ready to go into the pans once the order comes in.
“It’s just being careful through those steps not to overcook our rice in the beginning and handling it properly. The right ratio of rice for the pan size, you can see just one layer of rice and getting the crispiness on the bottom, that’s called socarrat.”
Chef Montaño explains she made the process foolproof, labeling portions of each ingredient and at which times during the cooking process to utilize them. Paella can be tricky if not correctly approached: you can either overcook it, undercook it, or completely miss the mark on flavor if rushed.
Coming from a Spanish heritage, Montaño spent time in Spain where she traveled to Valencia, the birthplace of paella.
“I went to the old school institutions that were doing the woodfire, really authentic stuff and also went to the more modern paella restaurants to see what they were doing in contrast and then started to develop this concept.”
That time and dedication has paid off and is reflected in the satisfying crunch of her paella’s euphoric socarrat.
Chef Montaño is a shining example that while traditional flavors are crucial to a dish, you need to learn to evolve in order to adapt to a modernized setting. By drastically cutting the time it takes to cook an exquisite paella, Chef Montaño has shown that she’s capable of paying respect to the old ways, while also embracing new techniques to expedite her process.
I’m usually pretty shy when I order food. Something I need to work on, sure. Timidness doesn’t seem to be a problem, however, with Filipina diner Glysdi Faith Baguio. Especially when she wants her rice.
Baguio is the star of one of the most viral restaurant videos to hit the Internet this past week.
According to NextShark, the video was recorded at an unknown location of Filipino restaurant chain Mang Inasal. This barbecue fast food concept offers up unlimited side orders of rice, and Baguio was looking to take full advantage. Baguio’s friend Liviann Magat Zorilla, the one behind the camera, posted it to her Facebook page.
As she eats, Baguio nonchalantly whips out a microphone and asks one of the servers for another helping of rice. Because he doesn’t hear her the first time, Baguio is urged to ask again taking the microphone out again.
The server, referred to as Kuya (big bro), doesn’t get upset or annoyed. Instead, he flashes a smile and presumably heads to retrieve the much-anticipated rice. It seems this dude’s amiable reaction to what many other servers would consider rude contributed heavily to how viral the clip went.
Since it went live, Zorilla’s upload has already gained 3.7 million views. Many of the comments were positive, praising the reaction of “kuya” in the video and how he helps contribute to such a positive restaurant atmosphere.
Although Baguio was the star, everyone clearly thought that the “kuya” was the real MVP of this clip.
Sometimes, the simplest dishes are the hardest to master. Even seasoned home cooks can struggle with rice that’s mushy, clumpy or sticking (or burning!) on the bottom of a pot. Here are our time-honored tips for turning out the perfect rice every time, whether you’re cooking on your stovetop or turning on your Instant Pot or rice cooker.
Tips for Making Perfectly Fluffy Rice
No matter which method you choose (stovetop, pressure cooker or rice cooker), these guidelines apply:
Always rinse your rice in a mesh strainer before you cook it. Rinsing cuts down on the starchiness that helps make rice sticky. Keep rinsing until the water is clear—this is key. You may end up rinsing six times or more, depending on the kind of rice.
Stirring encourages rice grains to stick together (think risotto). Instead, swirl uncooked rice and fluff cooked rice with a fork.
Getting perfect rice depends on four key variables. It’s best to consider the package directions on your rice as guidelines and experiment by cooking each type of rice until you find the perfect setup for you.
Ratio of water to rice: The ideal ratio of water to rice depends on how much water will evaporate during cook time. And cook time depends on the next key variables:
Type of rice: Different types of rice cook at different rates. For example, brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice, so it needs a little more water. Start your experiment by following the package recommendation, and adjust from there till you get the results you want. The typical ratio for short-grain white rice is 1 cup water to 1 cup rice and long-grain white rice is 1-1/4 cup water to 1 cup rice. We recommend using long-grain rice. Short-grain rice has way more starch and is almost always sticky (think sushi).
Cooking temp: The hotter you cook your rice, the more quickly the water will evaporate. On the stovetop, after your rice reaches its initial boil, turn it down to a low simmer to keep evaporation at a minimum. A rice cooker or pressure cooker will automatically do this (which is one of the reasons we’re into the Instant Pot).
Your pot and its lid: A tight-fitting lid is best for making rice because it prevents water from evaporating too quickly and disrupting your perfect water-to-rice ratio. If you’re using the stovetop method, use a larger saucepan than you need to help prevent the water from spilling over when it comes to its initial boil. It’ll save you a lot of starchy cleanup.
If you lift the lid to check for doneness, you’ll—you guessed it—throw off the evaporation rate, which will affect the cook time. Set a duration for each experiment, and stick with it…unless you smell burning, of course.
Give it a rest.
When cooking time is up, let your rice sit for 10-15 minutes without lifting the lid to let the moisture distribute evenly amongst the rice grains.
Bonus: Sneak in some flavor.
To make ordinary rice amazing, add a bay leaf or two during cooking (discard before eating!), or try using chicken, beef or vegetable broth instead of water.
If you’re using a pressure cooker or rice cooker, getting perfectly fluffy rice is super easy because you’re dealing with fewer variables. Still, all of the above tips apply. And be sure to check your water-to-rice ratio in the manufacturer’s instructions; you’ll need less water than you would when you make rice on the stovetop.
You’ve been slaving over the stove to make the perfect dish, and all you’ve got left to do is add that last pinch of salt, dash of hot sauce, or touch of sugar to make it divine. Of course, your body decides to have a klutz moment right then and there and bam! Your culinary masterpiece is ruined by a tragic error. Fortunately, you don’t have to toss everything out and start over, because you can save some dishes after the mistake happens. Here’s how to simply solve some of these kitchen nightmares and to keep them from ruining your meal.
Desalting an Oversalted Dish
If you’ve put too much salt into your food, you can increase the other flavor components to balance everything out or add some starch to draw the salt back out. That way, you won’t be left with a nasty feeling in your mouth afterwards.
Saving Greasy Sauces and Gravies
If you’ve got a layer of oil at the top of your sauce or gravy you want to get rid of, just add a cold steel dish to the gravy. The oil will stick to the steel after some time, meaning you can enjoy a grease-free dish with this swift life hack.
Toning Down A Meal That’s Too Spicy
Adding sugar, dairy, or more ingredients to help distribute and dilute the spiciness in food is a great way to tone down the heat. That way, you don’t have to blow your mouth off just to have lunch.
Thickening Sauces That Are Too Thin
There’s several ways to thicken sauces, whether it be through starches like cornstarch or arrowroot, or even through fats like butter or cheese. The simplest way, though is to reduce the sauce until enough water evaporates to create the consistency you’re looking for. Bon Appetit!
Rescuing Burnt Rice
While burnt rice may seem all but lost, you can save the part that isn’t scorched and get rid of the smell, too. Simply add some bread on top of the rice for a few minutes, and it’ll take in that flavor and leave your rice tasting fresh. Simple, yet extremely effective.
Saving A Broken Mayonnaise
When your mayonnaise splits, you may feel like it’s the end of the world and you have to start all over. However, through simple blending, water, and an egg yolk, your mayo will be back to full strength before you know it.
Keeping Treats From Getting Too Sweet
Sometimes, desserts can overload on the sugar to give you that cloying feel in your mouth that’s just awful. However, through acid, spice, diluting, or alternative sweeteners, you can change things up and keep yourself from feeling sickly when eating that special treat.
Unstick Your Sticky, Overcooked Noodles
We’ve all been there with the overcooked noodles, but we don’t have to eat them in sadness. Adding some cold water will help loosen things up and allow us to slurp at our leisure.
Rewhipping Overbeaten Whipped Cream
It can be difficult to tell when you’ve overworked homemade whipped cream, but if you’re in that conundrum, don’t panic. A simple addition of a little more cream to the bowl will allow you to rework and whip the cream back to where it should be, saving your decadent whipped delight.
Repair A Cracked Pie Crust
If your pie crust has cracked on you, you can repair it back together with some “glue.” In this case, that glue is a paste of flour and water that you can bake into the pie crust and keep everything together. If you’re a pie rookie, this is definitely a life-saver.
Removing Broken Eggshell Pieces
When that piece of eggshell gets into your cracked eggs, it can be a pain to try and drag it out. Fortunately, eggs come with a built-in solution to the problem, as the larger pieces of shell can easily remove the tiny broken bits inside. Now your eggs won’t be crunchy in the morning anymore.
Rehydrating Dried Poultry Meat
Chicken and turkey are both incredibly easy to overcook, making them taste dry. With some chicken stock and gravy, however, you can restore their moist texture and nobody will ever know that you messed up on the Thanksgiving turkey… again.
Fixing A Broken Buttercream Frosting
Buttercream frostings break because of temperature, and whether yours be too hot or too cold, there’s simple ways to revert the temperature back to where you need it to be. Once you do so, you’ll have the perfect frosting for cupcakes and more.
Smoothing Out Clumpy Chocolate Sauce
Chocolate sauces can seize up and go clumpy if cooked improperly, but there’s an easy save. Incorporating enough moisture to dissolve the clumps by adding water, cream, or another liquid gives you the second chance you need to make that smooth, glossy chocolate sauce everyone will be dying over.
Filipino rice lovers might want to be on guard, as there have been reports of alleged ‘fake rice’ being bought and sold throughout the Philippines.
Surprisingly, this is not be the first time that a fake rice scandal has surfaced in Asia. Around six years ago, there were reports of ‘fake rice’ being made with plastic, exported from China, and distributed throughout Asia.
Citizens have complained to government officials that the rice they have been consuming has tasted “off,” and did not have the same consistency after being properly cooked, even causing illnesses.
There have been several viral demonstration videos of people exposing the rice’s viability, like the one below:
The majority of the video above is reported in Tagalog (Philippine native language), as the user cooks a sample of the alleged fake rice, cools it, and molds it into a ball. He then tosses it onto the floor, staying solid, not falling apart like normal rice would, and making a distinct thud; which would seemingly validate citizens claims.
The country’s National Food Administration (NFA) and local authorities continue to investigate these claims, but no official word yet on the complete validity of these claims.
Luckily, there are currently no reports of the purported ‘fake rice’ being imported into the United States.
She also accused the country of selling the product, also known as milagrosa rice, mixed with plastic, according to Coconuts Bangkok.
The video, which shows Prak cooking jasmine rice the wrong way and burning a whole batch, has gained more than 3 million views since it was posted to Facebook on New Year’s Eve
We don’t usually use three lady brand. We got 2.50lb bag as a gift from sisters. We opened one bag to see if the rice is mixed with plastic or not, and this what we got. This is too crazy,” wrote Prak.
The jasmine rice begins to burn at the 3:30 mark and a girl can be heard saying, “Close the door. Mom, oh my god, look at this.” Four minutes into the clip and they finally take the rice off the burner and place a piece of paper into the wok, which starts a fire.
“This is the Three Lady rice. This is a piece of paper, this is crazy,” the girl says.
If Prak paid attention in science class, she would know that plastic has a melting point, and not just turn black when it is burned.