Rice is not just nice. It’s also a staple food for more than half of the world’s population, and widely consumed in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, according to the online authority on all things rice, Ricepedia.
The diversity of this humble grain will be celebrated at the second World Rice Festival at The Entertainment Quarter on December 1 and 2, where some of the city’s best chefs and food vendors will showcase their favourite rice-based recipes.
“I don’t think I’m alone when I say rice is a staple in my kitchen. The Lebanese cuisine is predominantly built around rice ... all our stews are served with vermicelli rice, our vegetables are stuffed with rice, even our desserts and soups have a rice base,” says Hoda Kobeissi, a recent Masterchef graduate.
Kobeissi will be hosting the first pop-up of her Middle Eastern desserts business, Halawa – Sweet Treats of the Middle East, and demonstrating how she makes her spiced rice-pudding brûlée.
“For me, a recipe that requires minimal ingredients and has maximum effect and flavour is definitely a winner in my books, and all my rice puddings are exactly that. Rice, milk and sugar set the foundation for my rice puddings and the flavour combinations are endless,” she told Broadsheet.
“The celebrated ingredient is really the rice that shines above all other flavours in the dish.”
Japanese cuisine is a strong presence on the rice festival bill. Chefs Tomoyuki (of HaNa Ju-Rin in Crows Nest) and Takumi Kawano (from Shiki, Sydney’s oldest Japanese restaurant) will demonstrate how to prepare onigiri (triangular-shaped sushi “balls”) and chirashi (sushi rice bowls); while Ume’s Kerby Craig will be launching his new “taco rice” concept. His stall Don Taco will be peddling a Japanese-influenced version of the taco bowl, featuring umami mince, cheese, shredded lettuce, tomato, renkon (lotus root) crisps and rice crackers.
The Sydney Sake Society will also host sake workshops and free tastings, and the festival program features traditional rice harvesting and planting dances from Indonesian and Thai cultures.
The World Rice Festival runs from December 1–2, 12–6pm at The Entertainment Quarter. Entry is free.