The first time I had Nicaraguan white rice, I realized what I had been missing out on and what all the fuss was about. To me, white rice was white rice, you boil it, add some salt, cook it for 20 minutes and you're done. BOY was I wrong! I could eat this stuff all by itself, in fact, I do.
By slowly cooking the onions and the peppers in the oil first, the vegetables release their delicious juices into the oil, which is absorbed into the rice as you lightly "fry" it before bathing it in water, a little salt and the secret ingredient my father-in-law, Aurelio, told me about ... a tablespoon of sour orange juice. Don't worry if you don't have access to sour oranges, you can make your own. See my post "Don't Have Sour Oranges? Make Your Own!"
Like most every Nicaraguan recipe I post, I learned how to make this from my in-laws ... so a big ¡Gracias! (thank you) to both Aurelio and Lupe for sharing. This recipe isn't for plain old white rice, it's for white rice taken to a new and yummier level ... a Nica* level!
1/4 cup of canola oil (do not use olive oil for this)
1/2 an onion, cut in thick lengthwise strips
1/2 green pepper, roughly chopped
Pinch of salt
2 cups of white rice
3 1/2 cups of water
1 tablespoon sour orange juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
In a skillet with high sides, add the oil, onions and peppers. Cook slowly over medium-low heat, add the pinch of salt, so that the onions release their juices and keep from browning. You want a translucent and soft onion. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the rice to "fry" it and be sure to continuously stir, for about 2 minutes or until the center of the rice is white and it's crackling or popping. You do not want to brown the rice. Add water, salt and juice, allow to come to a hard boil and boil for one full minute and reduce heat to low and cook for 25 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Serve with anything you'd like or with any one of my favorite Nicaraguan dishes; Carne Enchorizada or Salpicón Nicaraguense.
*Nicaraguans refer to themselves and anything Nicaraguan as "Nica". So if you see me using the terms "Nica", now you know what I am referring too!