Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Flavor & The Menu
March 7, 2020

The crunchy texture of seared, pan-fried and deep-fried rice offers chefs a rich source of on-trend menu possibilities. Crispy rice can take on trending global flavor combinations and bring savory, crunchy dimension to brunch dishes, bowl builds, bar snacks, soups, savory pies and more. It can also shape-shift into any number of formats, from tots and cylinders to sticks and cakes. “Rice is such a versatile ingredient that fits into so many of today’s flavor trends,” says Carl Schwartz, culinary R&D manager for CSSI Marketing on behalf of USA Rice. “Crisping and shaping U.S.-grown rice using simple techniques and including great flavor combinations lead to great menu innovation.”

He suggests making crispy rice following these steps, created by USA Rice for foodservice professionals:

1. Use 5–10% more water than needed during cooking process

2. Once rice is cooked and still warm, add inclusions

3. Lay rice on plastic-lined sheet tray, approximately 1-inch thick

4. Cover rice with plastic wrap; place another equal-sized sheet tray with 2 to 3 pounds of weight on top

5. Allow rice mixture to press and cool for 2 to 3 hours or until malleable

6. Cut rice into desired shape and, for best results, either pan-sear (3–4 minutes per side) or deep-fry (3–4 minutes)


USA Rice

These Korean Fried Chicken & Waffles demonstrate rice’s ability to carry big flavor and texture, with a mixture of kimchi, gochugaru, scallion, ginger and garlic.

1. Benedict. Replace the English muffin with a crispy rice cake flavored with soy and garlic, top with ramen pork, poached egg, togarashi hollandaise

2. Breakfast Bowl. Fry day-old rice until super crispy and use it to garnish rice or grain bowl or sprinkle over soft-scrambled egg

3. French Toast Fold cinnamon, vanilla and sugar into cooked rice, then form into “toast” and crisp; top with classic garnishes

4. Breakfast Rice Tots Add sausage, egg, bacon to cooked rice, then form into cylinders and deep fry; season with sage and black pepper



USA Rice

Crispy Fried Rice Cakes feature squares of rice studded with morsels of char siu pork, scallion, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and egg. They’re deep fried until golden brown, then served with a sweet soy dipping sauce.

1. Mexican. Make mini pan-fried crunchy rice squares flavored with citrus and Tajín; serve with a dipping sauce of queso or poblano crema

2. Eastern Mediterranean. Prepare deep-fried saffron-spiced rice tots, toss in za’atar seasoning; serve with a dipping sauce of preserved lemon tahini

3. Korean. Pan-fry short-grain rice with gochugaru, garlic, soy and brown sugar and form into logs; serve with kimchi aïoli

4. India: Add Madras curry powder and chile pepper to rice when frying, form into balls; drizzle with mango chutney and serve with turmeric-cardamom raita

5. China: Incorporate char siu pork, scallion, ginger, garlic, soy sauce and egg into short-grain rice while cooking; shape into cakes and deep fry; serve with sweet soy dipping sauce


American farmers grow 85 percent of the rice consumers eat in the U.S. That translates to 18 billion pounds a year, grown and harvested by farmers in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas.


For more inspiration using U.S.-grown rice, go to ThinkRice.com.

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