The Unconventional Way To Season Rice With A Punch Of Flavor

It's possible you could think of rice as a boring side dish — simply a bed of blandness on which you heap your flavorful main entrée. But why limit yourself? What if you could transform rice into a vibrant star that can play much more than a supporting role? After all, there's a reason that the Division of Biological Sciences at UC Davis states, "Rice has fed more people over a longer period of time than any other crop."

Rice is pervasive throughout the world's cuisines. World Bank Blogs points out that it's a staple food for roughly 3.5 billion people, providing sustenance and a livelihood for millions of small-scale farmers. The types of rice are astonishing, from jasmine to basmati, which can be used in different Thai and Indian curry recipes. And then there's Spain's bomba rice that works as a base for an authentic paella, per El Meson.

No matter the variety of rice you're preparing, they all have one thing in common: The grains must be dried after being harvested (via HuffPost). This means they require liquid for cooking, presenting an opportunity to introduce flavor to a grain that otherwise might be a bit tasteless.

Make use of your leftover brine by pouring it in your rice

According to Lifehacker, there's a way to kick the flavor of your rice up a notch — and it's by using a potent, mouth-watering liquid that's far too often discarded. Instead of dumping the brine from your pickles, capers, or feta cheese, why not use it to replace some of the water you use to cook rice? You'll want to be careful, as Lifehacker notes that brining liquid contains lots of sodium. However, using it in place of water or just pouring in a little at a time can make your rice tangy and savory — just be sure to account for the water-to-rice ratio with every portion of brine you use. 

Using the juice from kosher dill pickles can add salt and garlicky notes to your rice, or you could add layers of delightful citrus by mixing in a preserved lemon and hot pickle brine vinaigrette. Or you can take it a step further and cook the brine with rice and butter in a skillet to make a crispy, crunchy dish (via Taste of the South). 

Reclaiming flavorful brine is a better solution than wasting it — and what better way to put it to use than with rice? The leftover liquid has far more applications in the kitchen other than just holding your veggies until consumption, and the best part is you probably already have it on hand.