It's rice -- no, it's noodles -- no, it's slippery and slimy, like ... Jell-O pasta. Long rice is one of those enigma foods. Colorless, almost tasteless, but with a distinctive texture that lends itself well to several preparations. It can be soupy, as in chicken long rice, or more solid, as in a stir-fry. It can be fried crisp or given the salad treatment in a cool, vinegary namasu.
Three ways to
slip in long rice
Grace Tobita favors the Japanese approach to long rice, hoping to duplicate what she can buy at an okazuya. "I want it so it does not become watery," she said. It should "be dry and taste good."
At the same time, Tania Liles, a transplanted islander living in Mississippi, yearns for the luau staple chicken long rice. "My dad shipped me a whole carton of the long rice. Now I just need a recipe to fix my craving."
Both requests are answered here, thanks to the good women at Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin. These are the ladies who brought us the six-volume "Favorite Island Cookery" set, perhaps the most useful of local cookbooks. Book I was published in 1973 as a fund-raiser for the temple; over the years additional volumes have earned thousands of dollars for the work of the Betsuin.
Sunday is the fourth annual Taste of Hongwanji, a showcase for the cookbooks as well as festival foods such as shave ice, yakitori and andagi. Plants, produce, baked goods, crafts and white-elephant items will also be for sale. This year, Aiea Hongwanji Fujinkai and Jikoen Hongwanji Temple help expand the festival.
Among traditional favorites to be served out of the cookbook are Chirashi Zushi (sushi rice) and Yatsumi Zuke (a tsukemono, or pickled, dish). Sound good? The recipes are in the cookbook, which will be sold at the festival. Or buy some scrip and pick up some ready-made.
In the meantime, join Tobita and Liles for some long rice. Here are three approaches:
Place long rice in cold water and bring to a boil. Drain and cut into 2-inch lengths.
Long Rice Special2 bundles (about 4 ounces total) long rice
1/2 cup thin strips of lean pork
1/2 cup thin strips of ham or luncheon meat
3-4 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced thin
1 small onion, sliced
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
4 eggs, beaten, fried and sliced in small strips
Stir-fry pork, ham, mushrooms, onion and ginger. Add soy sauce, salt, sugar and long rice, toss to coat. Top with egg. Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving: 170 calories, 6 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 160 mg cholesterol, 620 mg sodium, 18 g carbohydrate, 11 g protein.*
Cut each chicken thigh into 4 to 5 pieces. Bring water to a boil and add chicken. Add salt and sugar. Reduce heat and cook until tender. Add long rice and cook a few minutes more, until noodles are tender. Add green onion.
Chicken Long Rice2 pounds chicken thighs, deboned
4 cups water
1 tablespoon Hawaiian salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 bundles (about 4 ounces total) long rice, soaked in water until soft and cut into desired lengths
3 stalks green onion, in 1-inch lengths
Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving: 240 calories, 14 g total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 75 mg cholesterol, 930 mg sodium, 12 g carbohydrate, 16 g protein.*
Combine marinade ingredients and pour over beef. Set aside while preparing other ingredients.
Beef with Crisp Long Rice1 pound flank steak, cut in 2-inch strips
1 cup vegetable oil
2 bundles (about 4 ounces total) long rice
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 clove garlic
1/2 inch piece of ginger, thinly sliced
1 large onion, sliced
1 stalk green onion, thinly sliced for garnish
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon grated ginger
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine gravy ingredients and set aside.
Heat oil in skillet. Deep-fry long rice. It will puff up instantly. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Arrange lettuce in a platter. Place fried rice on top; set aside.
Heat remaining tablespoon oil. Fry garlic and ginger until brown. Discard garlic and ginger. Fry onion until limp; remove. Stir-fry marinated meat, 2 minutes. Mix onion with meat and place on top of crispy long rice.
In same skillet, bring gravy mixture to a boil, then pour over meat. Garnish with green onion and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving: 460 calories, 18 g total fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 90 mg cholesterol, greater than 1200 mg sodium, 32 g carbohydrate, 42 g protein.*
Spring bazaar: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
Taste of Hongwanji
Place: Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin, 1727 Pali Hwy.
Food Stuffs: Morsels
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Asterisk (*) after nutritional analyses in the
Body & Soul section indicates calculations by
Joannie Dobbs of Exploring New Concepts,
a nutritional consulting firm.