Mexican Rice History And Recipes

photo credit: bigstock: Bgsmith

History Of Rice In Mexico

Rice is not a New World food. Rice was introduced to Mexico via the Philippines, then transported to Acapulco in the famous ship Nao de China (Diana Kennedy, Art of Mexican Cooking).

The Spaniards later found the lush tropical climate of Veracruz region of Mexico to be a perfect growing ground for rice. From there it grew to culinary prominence.

Many Uses Of Rice In Mexican Cooking

Rice is traditionally served as the second course of the midday meal. It may be served turned out of a mold to be eaten with beans or with fish. The serving of "rice and beans" next to each other on a dinner plate is not at all typical in Mexico.

Rice is not only reserved as a savory dish but it is also used in desserts, cakes, vegetable puddings, tamales, atoles and even the well known rice drink, horchata.

Types Of Rice

The rice most commonly used in Mexico is a long-grain with a fleck of the germ left on. When cooked the rice expands to 4 x's its volume. The long grain rice found in the U.S. is really not the same. Both Rick Bayless and Zarela Martinez recommend using a medium-grained white rice for best results.

Preparation Styles

  • Pilaf - Most Mexican rice is served "pilaf" style. The rice grains are browned and then simmered in broth. Sometimes bits of carrot, onion and peas are added.
  • Brothy rice - In Veracruz the traditional preparation is a creamier rice almost a cross between a risotto and a paella.
  • Rice In Cazuela -The clay cazuela imparts a very specific earthy flavor to rice. The grains can be soaked, drained then fried until brown. Add liquid and simmer uncovered until the rice is tender or Diana Kennedy suggests, cover the cazuela with a towel and a lid. 

Fun Fact about Mexican Rice History And Recipes

Nutrition Information For Mexican Rice History And Recipes

Serving Size
1 cup
Calories from Fat
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g
Saturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 8mg
Total Carbohydrate 145g
Dietary Fiber 6g
Sugars 0g
Protein 14g
Vitamin A  0% Vitamin C  0%
Calcium  0% Iron  0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

General Preparation Tips

Rinsing or Soaking

Although it is not necessary to soak rice purchased here in the U.S. it can decrease the overall cooking time and assist in the absorption of flavors from other ingredients. Most of the Mexican culinary authorities agree that rinsing is a must. Place the rice in a colander and rinse it repeatedly until the water runs clear. This removes some of the starch so you'll have a less "sticky" result.

Storing Leftover Rice

Ms. Kennedy suggests packing the rice in thin packets using heavy-duty aluminum foil then freezing. The foil packets need not be defrosted just place them in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes. Avoid re-steaming which depletes the flavors.

Sources And Credits

  • Authentic Mexican - By Rick Bayless.
  • Zarela Martinez - Chef
  • Diana Kennedy - Author

Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.