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Saffron Herb Rice and Guilin and Yangshuo

“This saffron herb rice with currants and pomegranate seeds is not only pretty it tastes great too!”
Saffron Herb Rice with yellow and white grains is easy to make and tastes great! Plus it is so pretty! #rice #China www.thisishowicook.com

2018 is in full swing and though I’ve been busy you wouldn’t know it from this blog. As I mentioned 2017 did not end on a high note and I was definitely not in holiday mode. Try as we could throughout 2017 to make things better…well,  better just wasn’t cutting it. This will be the year of doing things differently as it was obvious to us that better doesn’t always work. It isn’t easy to teach old dogs new tricks but we are determined to master skills such as how to work differently, how to be nicer, how to gain patience and most importantly how to grow old together.  It’s time to say goodbye to the year of floods, me getting older, parents getting even older, crappy jobs and to say hello to a new year- a year of new possibilities. I’ve been in high mode getting my business restarted and soon will have a website where you can see the custom plates I design for special occasions. Revamping this blog is also on the list as as are the usual items such as health, diet and exercise which are kind of one and the same. Boring!!! And that’s it for what some may call resolutions.

On to rice. I last left you at chicken shawarma and didn’t even have the decency to write out the recipe for this charming, perfectly gorgeous, perfectly festive, luscious rice. It reminds me of how my bedroom looked when I was young. Yellow walls and yellow bedspreads with rose, hot pink flowers, a gold shag carpet and of course… a pink princess phone completed the picture.  Well that’s how I remember it and though this rice doesn’t leap off bed spreads it will leap off your plate and into your mouth quite rapidly. It is good and tasty and perfect with most any dish, but pile this on a plate and surround it with chicken shawarma and you will be diving in. Even from a high dive…this distinctive yellow and white rice is that enticing. And easy to make!

Saffron Herb Rice with yellow and white grains is easy to make and tastes great! Plus it is so pretty! #rice #China www.thisishowicook.com

So speaking of rice I figured it was time to continue the journey to China. I should have added this to my list of resolutions… though I only have two more segments after this. Hopefully if I complete them I will be able to go back because it doesn’t sound like China Boy is coming home any time soon. However he will be visiting in a month and I can’t wait!

From Hangzhou we flew south 2.5 hours to Guilin. We didn’t arrive until midnight due to Chinese airlines consistently running late. Early the next morning we left for our 4 hour Li river cruise to Yangshuo. The limestone karst scenery was beyond spectacular. We may not have cruised the Yangtze but this was quicker and I hear a lot better than spending 3-4 days on a boat.  As you can see the morning haze was still looming.

 

And lots of boats were going the same place we were!
We got settled well on the ferry…Don’t you just love it?
And then they served us brunch. Yummy!

 

 

We climbed often to the upper deck to take snaps of the scenery. It was hot. Really hot. Maybe more humid than hot. But that didn’t stop us and everyone on the boat from getting the money shot. The money shot…you ask?

 

 

 

 

And quickly we arrived in Yangshuo. This might be as close to Boulder as one can get in China. This is where one can climb, hike, bike and boat. It is a destination for backpackers. We saw Jamaican bars and Irish bars and 99% of the faces were Chinese. Lots of cats roamed the streets. The red chiles were prevalent. The daytime streets were empty. The night time streets were packed. We stayed a bit out of town at the Eden Garden Hotel which can be found on booking sites. It was a lovely site located on the river and near the bike paths. They served us an awesome dinner of Drunken chicken or fish – a popular dish in Yangshuo.

This is the entrance to the hotel. Yes, it was off of a busy road, but once inside the gates it was very peaceful. At night it was lit up and made for a pretty site. We also happened to time it right and the red flowers on the vines had just started blooming. We were told this only happens once a year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next morning found us renting bikes. It was expensive, probably because of the quality of the bikes. For a whopping 75 cents we were able to rent bikes with no brakes or steering. It was quite a  deal!  We headed to the brick paved path that took us along the river and through the rice fields. The haystacks kind of made me think Monet in China!

We are looking quite good here, aren’t we? Until the ….well… you know!

 

 

I think this was her IG shot!

 

 

 

 

Be careful little duckies. China is a dangerous place for a duck!

 

 

We rode over bumpy bricks-we did notice the stone layers in China have yet to perfect their craft. Every surface of tile, or brick tends to have its fair share of toe thumpers. And always there is a section being redone! Truly a hot, glorious ride that made for many photos. It was on this ride I had my famous bike accident that caused China Boy to exclaim that he can’t take me anywhere. But really it wasn’t my fault. As Manservant started to ride too close, I steered away to avoid hitting him and without a bike that steers or brakes I felt myself going down. It really was slow motion until I got up and noticed my torn leggings and the bruises on my face. Thank goodness I had just passed off the camera around my neck to Manservant.
It was then that the flower selling ladies crowned me, and bruised and all we continued on our path. Two boys decided to go swimming and then the Chinese boys followed suit. I think they were waiting for them to test the waters! Note that this was a popular spot for truck crossings, too!

 

 

And then it was a quick stop for lunch and biking back to take Advil, wash off and catch our Uber back to Guilin. Way too fast for such a glorious spot. Oh, but I almost forgot. I couldn’t forget the rice. After all it isn’t everyday one sees rice in China.

 

 

Though we came back to Guilin the next day we still didn’t have enough time to explore its beauty. Trying to see everything in China in three weeks is impossible. We did manage to eat well, never any problem with that, and walked around Fir Lake, saw the twin Sun and Moon pagodas, but still there was so much more to do. I hope to see Guilin again some day and spend more time exploring. A Chinese Song dynasty scholar once wrote, “I often sent pictures of the hills of Guilin which I painted to friends back home, but few believed what they saw.” There is a lot of truth in that.

 

 

 

Seafood and chilies were everywhere. So were the crowds. The garlic baked oysters were incredible and I don’t even like oysters. We grabbed a plastic stool and dove in!

 

 

Yes, those are plastic school cafeteria trays. However I’ve never seen them filled with fresh scallops! What a full day we had. From bike riding to ubering from Yangshuo to Guilin is one day I would happily repeat-bruises and all! We woke up Sunday morning in time to catch the bullet train to Shenzhen but not before enjoying our breakfast and one last view from the Aroma Tea House where we stayed. I wish we would have had more time to enjoy this little gem of a hotel, but next time, I promise!

 

And those are happy memories to start the new year with. Now it’s time for rice which will forever be ingrained in my soul. Get it? In grained? So time to shut up and give you the recipe. Enjoy this rice. And just for your notes…This rice isn’t from China. It is from the Middle East. An Ottolenghi favorite of mine. But if you want a new take on a Chinese STYLE  fried rice this could fill the bill. And because this is a post on China I will close with an old Chinese proverb, “Without rice, even the cleverest housewife cannot cook.”

 

Saffron Herb Rice with yellow and white grains is easy to make and tastes great! Plus it is so pretty! #rice #China www.thisishowicook.com
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Saffron Herb Rice with yellow and white grains is easy to make and tastes great! Plus it is so pretty! #rice #China www.thisishowicook.com

 

 

Saffron Yellow and White Rice with Currants and Herbs

Prep Time undefined
Cook Time undefined
Total Time
Yields Yield: Serves 6

This saffron herb rice with currants and pomegranate seeds is not only pretty it tastes great too!

Ingredients

  • 2.5 T unsalted butter
  • 2 c basmati rice, rinsed and drained well
  • 2.5 cups boiling water
  • 1 t saffron threads soaked in 3 T boiling water for 30 minutes
  • 1/4 c currants soaked for a few minutes in hot water
  • 2 oz fresh herbs such as cilantro, dill, tarragon or a combination of your favorites
  • 1/2 c slivered or crushed pistachios or almonds
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Pomegranate Seeds for Garnish

Directions

    1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and stir in the rice, making sure the grains are well coated in butter. Add the boiling water, 1 t salt, and a pinch of white pepper. Mix well, cover with a tight lid and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.
    2. Remove the pan from the heat-all the water should be absorbed- and pour the saffron water over ONE side of the rice, covering about 1/4 of the surface and leaving the majority of the rice white. Cover the pan immediately with a thin dish towel and reseal tightly with the lid. Set aside for 5-10 minutes.
    3. Use large spoon to remove the white rice to a large bowl and fluff it with a fork. Drain the currants and stir them in, followed by the herbs and most of the nuts, leaving a few herbs and nuts for garnish. Mix well. Fluff the saffron rice and gently fold it into the rice mixture. Don’t overmix as you don’t want the white grains to be stained with yellow-however I did not have this problem. Taste and adjust seasoning.
    4. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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    18 Comments

  1. Reply
    Kitchen Riffs
    January 18, 2018 at 2:45 am

    Good to see you back! And I know what you mean about better not always being possible. But different always is. And at least it's a novelty. And who knows? May turn out better! Anyway, great dish, and love seeing your China photos. Thanks!

  2. Reply
    mimi rippee
    January 18, 2018 at 2:51 am

    WOW WOW WOW!!! So exciting!!!

    • Reply
      Abbe Odenwalder
      January 18, 2018 at 5:29 am

      It was an incredible trip Mimi. And more to come!

  3. Reply
    Cindy
    January 18, 2018 at 3:00 am

    abbe, happy new year! I loved your post and your photos. xoxoxo cindy

  4. Reply
    Angie Schneider
    January 18, 2018 at 5:38 am

    Looks like your whole family had a great time in Yangshuo! I was there 20 years ago and totally loved it. The saffron rice looks so colourful and appetizing.

    • Reply
      Abbe Odenwalder
      January 18, 2018 at 2:16 pm

      Can't imagine what it would have been like 20 years ago! Amazing! Thanks Angie.

  5. Reply
    Liz Berg
    January 18, 2018 at 11:11 am

    I've missed you!!! What a gorgeous rice dish!!! The vibrant colors make it truly a stand out. And your China photos have me jealous once again—except for that bike spill, though your flower crown is lovely. Hope 2018 will be all you deserve. xoxo

    • Reply
      Abbe Odenwalder
      January 18, 2018 at 2:17 pm

      Nice to be missed Liz! And thanks for the well wishes. To you, too! Can't wait to see the new kitchen!

  6. Reply
    Tricia Buice
    January 18, 2018 at 11:30 am

    I've missed you Abbe and LOVE this recipe and trip photos. You saw the best parts of China for sure. I wish we could have gotten out of Shanghai but was happy to go. Here's hoping 2018 is fantastic!

    • Reply
      Abbe Odenwalder
      January 18, 2018 at 2:18 pm

      Any China is good China! Thanks for missing me. Good to be thought of Tricia!

  7. Reply
    Pam
    January 18, 2018 at 7:07 pm

    Woo hoo, you're back, Abbe! I've always wanted to travel to China but no one else here does, unfortunately! You make it sound just like I always thought it would be, people, heat, rice and all! Those oysters sound incredibly delicious! Great post and I'm looking forward to reading more! Here's wishing you the best this year!

  8. Reply
    Cakelaw
    January 18, 2018 at 8:40 pm

    This rice dish looks fabulous – so pretty as well as tasty. Wow, sorry about the spill off your bike. Hopefully the flower crown had some magical powers to heal. Great China photos!

  9. Reply
    SavoringTime in the Kitchen
    January 18, 2018 at 9:30 pm

    Great to see you back! What beautiful scenery in that part of China, Abbe! The limestone formations covered in green are gorgeous. I love the river scene with all of the ferries headed in the same direction. Not sure if I'd want to drive a truck on that small road with water on both sides. Yikes! All the food you enjoyed looks delicious and the saffron herb rice sounds amazing. I used to buy saffron rice in packages at the store but a home made version would be incredible.

  10. Reply
    Sippity Sup
    January 18, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    Oh the tastes and sights in this post are captivating. Especially those mountains! GREG

  11. Reply
    mjskit
    January 19, 2018 at 2:57 am

    Welcome back! Looks like your 2018 is off to a great start! Looks like you had a wonderful trip to China. Love the pictures. I'm with you in hoping that 2018 is better than 2017. When you figure out how to stop growing old, please share your secret. 🙂 Lovely rice dish! So very colorful and great list of ingredients.

  12. Reply
    Healthy World Cuisine
    January 22, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    2018 is going to be a grand year and can't wait to see your custom plates. By any chance are any of them matte and great for food photography? So glad you boy is coming home in a month… miss them so much when they are over 6000 miles away! Guilin is gorgeous, so miss the fresh scallops on the shell with rice vermicelli. By the way your rice dish sounds lovely, so beautiful. Take Care

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