Who doesn’t love crispy rice? This is a wonderful side dish to make year- round—crunchy, light, and flavorful. Serve with Savoy Slaw with Lemongrass & Lime Dressing or alongside your favorite main dish. I cover the rice with a few paper towels as it cooks to absorb excess moisture, which helps to create a golden crust on the bottom of the rice.
In a large saucepan, bring four cups water to a rapid boil over high heat. Stir in the rice and the salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for about nine minutes. You don’t want the rice to be fully cooked or the water to be completely absorbed. It should be only halfway there. Spoon the rice into a fine-mesh sieve placed over a bowl and let it stand until all of the liquid has drained.
Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Pour in the oil and use a wooden spoon to swirl the saffron and paprika into the oil. When the oil starts to sizzle, carefully spoon in the rice, pressing it into the bottom of the pan to form a sort of “rice cake.” Reduce the heat to medium, place a few paper towels over the rice, and cover the pan. Cook until the rice cake is nicely browned and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Using a spatula, lift the cake occasionally to make sure the rice isn’t burning. When the cake is ready, uncover and let cool for a few minutes.
Remove the paper towels. Carefully invert a large plate over the top of the pan, invert the plate and pan together, and then lift off the pan. Serve right away. The rice cake can also be made up to one hour ahead and kept covered at room temperature.
Just before serving, reheat in a 300 degrees F oven.