My husband loves Mexican food. However, of all the Mexican food he’s tried, his favorite is still my mom’s Mexican rice. My mother’s rice is light and fluffy, always cooked to perfection. It is a natural orange-red color that immediately gives away the fact that there were no short-cuts taken when preparing it (no tomato puree for us!). Every time there is a church or family potluck, her rice is requested.
This has given me a pretty severe rice complex. I’ve been hesitant to even try to cook Mexican rice since my mother’s rice is legendary.
Since we started dating, my husband has teased me about my inability to replicate my mother’s recipe. This has only motivated me to continue trying the recipe over the past two years of marriage, always presenting my newest version and waiting to finally hear that my Mexican rice is at least as good as my mom’s. Unfortunately, until recently I’d been unable to cook Mexican rice as delicious as my mothers.
This past week, I finally did it! At the first bite, my husband’s eyes opened wide in surprise and he exclaimed, “This is it!” He quickly brought me back to earth by saying, “Now you just have to do it consistently.”
So after years of practicing and tweaking the recipe, I can finally share my mother’s famous Mexican rice with you!
Mexican rice is a classic side dish. Ironically, Mexican rice, is relatively new to Mexico. It was not a part of Mexican cuisine until the 15th century because rice is not native to the Americas. Mexican rice is actually a variation of arroz espanol, or Spanish rice, brought over by Spanish conquistadors. Although not truly authentic to Mexico in a historic or geographical sense, Mexican rice has become a staple in the past few centuries and is something that Mexicans eat commonly.
This is my mother’s recipe for authentic Mexican rice. Enjoy!
Notes: A few important notes about straining your rice, oil, and stirring. After you soak your rice, strain your rice very thoroughly, removing as much water as possible. The drier your rice is when you add it to the heat, the better it will fry. Do not skimp on the oil. I know that ½ cup might seem like a lot. I thought the same thing for years but this was one of the factors that did not allow me to cook rice as delicious as my mom’s. The rice will not soak up all of the oil; in fact, I had about ⅓ of a cup of oil leftover after the rice was fried. However, adding the full amount of oil will ensure that your rice fries quickly and evenly. Also of great importance is the frequency of your stirring: don’t stir too much or your rice will get mushy. Trust that the low heat will prevent your rice from sticking to the pan.
Yields: 4 servings
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Prep Time: 1 hour
- 1 cup of white long grain rice
- 1.5 cup water
- 2 medium-large tomatoes
- 1 onion
- 1 cloves of garlic
- ½ teaspoon salt (and more to taste)
- A small bunch of cilantro
- Soak: Soak rice for one hour. Then, strain rice thoroughly to remove excess water.
- Cooking the Rice: Heat up ½ cup of vegetable oil on medium heat. Add strained rice and fry on medium heat for 6-8 minutes or until golden. Then, drain excess oil by carefully pouring it out into another container or using a spoon.
- The Sauce: Puree raw tomatoes, onion, garlic and salt (no water unless your blender won’t do it—if so add a tablespoon at a time) until smooth.
- Rice: Pour puree over golden rice (pour swiftly or the tomato puree will splatter!) Then allow the raw tomato puree to “cook” for a few minutes, then add 1.5 cups of water and stir to combine.* When rice begins to boil again, top with sprigs of cilantro and reduce to lowest heat. Cook until water is fully evaporated and rice tastes cooked. (for me, it took about 20-25 minutes). Allow to cool and fluff rice using a form. Remove cilantro before serving.
*Do not over-stir rice or it will get mushy.*