Cover Indonesian Nasi Goreng | Photo: Recipe Tin Eats

Food is one of the best and easiest ways to immerse yourself in different cultures. Take yourself on a delicious gastronomic journey and try out these rice dishes from Korea, Iran, and many more.

Rice is one of the most popular ingredients around the world. Endlessly versatile, the abundant Asian crop has become an essential pantry staple in other parts of the globe, inspiring a multitude of dishes that are impeccably delicious and mouthwatering in their own unique ways. Learn about eleven of the most creative, iconic, and must-try rice dishes below.

Read More: At Home Recipes - Travel The World With These Chicken Dishes

1. Yangzhou Fried Rice (China)

Tatler Asia
Chinese Yangzhou Fried Rice | Photo: Adam Liaw
Above Chinese Yangzhou Fried Rice | Photo: Adam Liaw

China is home to some of the best fried rice dishes, including the popular Yangzhou fried rice (also known as Yangchow fried rice in countries like the Philippines). Yangzhou has become a classic Chinese dish, both in China and abroad, featuring in many international Chinese takeout menus.

Authentic Yangzhou must include eggs, carrots, green peas, pork, shrimp, and scallions.

Read More: Fried Rice Recipes From Around Asia

2. Tahdig (Iran)

The word tahdig is derived from the Persian words "tah" and "dig" which means "bottom" and "pot". The dish is an Iranian speciality wherein the rice is left to cook until brown and crispy, creating a truly unique texture. Tahdig is commonly made by boiling the rice until half cooked, then adding extra fat or oil in the bottom of the pot and letting it steam for a couple of minutes. Other recipes also call for placing a flat lavash bread or laying down thinly sliced potatoes between the rice and the pot to achieve clean and easy removal. Yoghurt, curry spices, and saffron are also often added to the rice for flavour.

Read More: Asia's First Plant-Based Meet Is Made From Jackfruit

3. Bibimbap (Korea)

Bibimbap is one of the most popular rice dishes in Korea. It is a bowl of rice topped with namul (sautéed and seasoned vegetables) or kimchi (traditional fermented vegetables), gochujang (a popular Korean chilli paste), and soy sauce. It is served steaming hot with a raw or fried egg on top.

Though now recognisable across the world, bibimbap is actually fairly a young recipe inspired by goldongban, a popular Korean dish from 14th to 16th centuries. Goldongban was considered as a form of ritual wherein participants combine all of what is left in their pantries at the year's end in a large bowl, producing an absolute feast.

Read More: 21 Of The Most Exciting Craft Beer Brands Brewing In Asia

Tatler Asia
Korean Bibimbap | Photo: Love & Lemons
Above Korean Bibimbap | Photo: Love & Lemons

4. Sushi (Japan)

Tatler Asia
Photo: Fadya Azhary \ Unsplash
Above Photo: Fadya Azhary \ Unsplash

Sushi is widely popular among many countries, and we have Japan to thank for it. The concept of sushi is actually believed to originate from China, designed as a strategy to preserve fish through fermentation. Today sushi-making has turned into a true art form, perfected by sushi-masters. Every grain of rice, every slice of fish and each detail is heavily scrutinised and much appreciated. 

Read More: 7 Famous Restaurants In Tokyo With A Fascinating History

5. Xôi Ngũ Sắc (Vietnam)

Xôi ngũ sắc is a beautiful five-coloured rice dish from Vietnam. It is a very interesting and festive dish that is both sweet and savoury. Xôi ngũ sắc gets its striking colours from the fresh extracts of a variety of leaves and fruits: purple from magenta plant leaves, green from pandan leaves, red from gấc fruits, yellow from mung beans, and white from the glutinous rice. 

Read More: Tatler Picks - The Best Gins In Asia 2021

6. Biryani (India)

Biryani is a one-dish meal that is incredibly popular in India. The term biriyani came from the Persian word "birinj biriyan" which means fried rice. It is made with basmati rice, various Indian spices, yoghurt, meat, vegetables, and sometimes eggs. The long-grain basmati rice is perfect as it is the least sticky among the common rice grains. 

Read Also: Tatler's Guide To The Best Asian Rums 2021

7. Nasi Goreng (Indonesia)

Tatler Asia
Indonesian Nasi Goreng | Photo: Recipe Tin Eats
Above Indonesian Nasi Goreng | Photo: Recipe Tin Eats

Nasi goreng is widely popular in Indonesian households. It translates to "fried rice" and is prepared with rice, kecap manis (Indonesian soy sauce), belacan or terasi (shrimp paste), shallots, and garlic. Other recipes also call for meats such as chicken, beef, and prawn. 

Read More: 11 Filipino Breakfast Foods To Help You Start Your Day Off Right

8. Risotto (Italy)

Risotto is a well-loved dish all over the world. It is believed to originate from the rich lands of the Lombardy region and soon grew popular in Milan. It is a slow-cooked rice dish usually made with stock, butter, onions, white wine, and parmesan. One of its most popular forms, the risotto alla Milanese, is cooked with saffron to add a rich golden hue. Italians adore this dish so much that they have even launched the annual Festa Nazionale Del Risotto Italiano (National Festival Of Italian Risotto), bringing together dozens of chefs to present hundreds of creations celebrating the dish.

Read More: Meet Drew Barrymore's Private Chef, Filipina Pilar Valdes

9. Sapin-Sapin (Philippines)

There is no denying that Filipinos adore rice, so much so that we have countless dishes that use rice as the main ingredient. One of the most popular dishes among the provinces and the metro is the colourful sapin-sapin. According to Doreen Fernandez, author of Tikim: On Philippine Food and Culture, sapin-sapin and suman have arguably strong indigenous roots, as provinces have many variants of this dessert.

Sapin-sapin, as its name suggests, is a layered rice snack that is made with rice flour, coconut milk, and sugar. Food colouring is added to each layer to distinguish each of its flavours such as ube, coconut, and jackfruit. It is topped with latik, a sweet mixture of caramelised coconut flakes.

Read More: 10 Filipino Street Food You Have To Try When Visiting The Philippines

10. Paella (Spain)

An incredibly hearty dish, paella is widely popular throughout Spain, but especially so in the Valencia region where it originated. Paella is named after the traditional wide-mouthed, shallow pan that is used to create the rice dish. Paella Valenciana usually consists of round grain rice, garlic, saffron, bajoqueta and tavella (varieties of green beans), rabbit, chicken, and sometimes duck or snails.

Due to its popularity and versatile nature, there are now multiple versions of paellas from paella marinara, paella negra, paella mixto, and even vegan paella.

Read More: How To Shift To An Organic Or Plant-Based Diet

11. Lu Rou Fan (Taiwan)

A staple in Taiwanese cuisine, lu rou fan is a rice bowl topped with heavenly braised or minced pork. The topping is usually made with minced pork belly and sometimes pork neck. The meat is fried to perfection and is then sautéed with soya sauce, sugar, stock, rice wine, pepper, and deep-fried shallots. It is served sitting atop a steaming bowl of rice.

Read More: The Best Food Cities In Asia According To Tatler’s Editors - Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul & More

© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.