A 1980s family pantry staple, this copycat version of the popular and familiar Dainty brand Beef Flavoured Rice will surely invoke all of your warm and fuzzy nostalgic feelings!
Please tell me that I’m not the only one who got really excited and hungry for dinner when Dainty Rice was being served! I remember the smell so well. If I were outside hanging out with friends, I could smell it coming from the window in our kitchen.
And who could forget that packaging? After all, grocery store shelves used to display it prominently. I remember the deep red boxes for beef flavoured rice. I think there were blue boxes for the chicken flavour. The Mexican flavour was in green boxes; gold for curry and so on. I think we only ever had the beef or the chicken. My mom never ventured very far outside her comfort zone when it came to new and different flavours.
I have not seen the store-bought type in years, so I decided to make my own version of it. I have perfected the beef flavoured rice quite easily. Next, I’ll try to crack the code on the chicken flavour!
A BRIEF HISTORY OF DAINTY RICE
Did you know that Dainty is a Canadian company? The company has been sourcing rice from around the world for over 135 years. The first import was over 1700 tons back in 1882. First opened in Montreal, the company relocated to Windsor, Ontario in 1967.
The Dainty brand was created for the “post-war consumer.” Following World War 2, there was an emergence of large food companies in North America offering consumer packaged goods. This quickly created competition and a necessity for branding and marketing on the part of manufacturers. One of those products was rice in a can.
Rice In A Can, by Dainty, has been in production since 1947. Over sixty years later, it still remains just cooked rice. It is pure, simple, quick and easy. It’s a Canadian icon! To this day, Dainty is Canada’s only rice mill.
SPECIAL INGREDIENTS NEEDED
I say special not because they are hard to find or expensive, but because they might not be normally found in most homes. Everyone has instant rice, bouillon, butter, and a spice rack. But, not everyone will have dark soy sauce or browning liquid.
The dark soy sauce is important for this recipe. Dark soy sauce is aged for a longer period of time. Unlike regular or light soy sauce, dark has a bit of molasses or caramel, and a bit of cornstarch added. It’s thicker too and has a more full-bodied flavor. It is also less salty. When it comes to cost, it’s roughly the same as any soy sauce. But, since you only need very little, it will last a long time.
Browning liquid has been used by home cooks since the early 1900s. It is used to add flavour and of course, a rich, dark colour to savoury dishes. A blend of caramel colour, vegetable concentrates, and seasonings, it is most often used in gravy.
Growing up, my mom always had a little bottle of what she called gravy browning in her fridge. In fact, I have one in our fridge too. I only ever use it for gravy, but I did use it to help achieve that dark colour and deep, savoury flavour.
A little browning liquid goes a long way. You need just a little bit because the colour is so concentrated. You can buy browning liquid, browning sauce, or gravy browning in most grocery stores. Or you can buy it on Amazon – see this link.
WALK WITH ME DOWN MEMORY LANE
Now, Dear Reader, I have to share with you why this Copycat Dainty Beef Flavoured Rice was so special when I was growing up. You see, unlike the way I would serve rice today, my mother had her own way of doing things. Whenever she made rice, it was served abundantly. Her plain white dinner plates (which was very chic for the 80s!) was completely covered with food just about every mealtime.
Rice was considered a side and was never served as a main. But, it was never enough of a side. In the case of the store-bought Dainty rice, it was usually found alongside her homemade Chinese food. It wasn’t extravagant and usually consisted of the rice, chicken balls, egg rolls, and sweet and sour sauce.
The rice came from a can. The chicken balls and egg rolls were usually from the frozen food section. And the sweet and sour sauce was from a jar. That was considered “homemade” Chinese food.
The only other time I remember this rice being served was as a side to battered fried cod. The rice usually accompanied fries – because one side is never enough! Or, the rice would be served with fries, corn, and her homemade barbecue pork chops. I’m starving thinking about this stuff!!!
Now, there was a one item that would show up on the table with the battered fried fish meal and the homemade Chinese food dinner that was a must. That was VH sauce. My mother kept that company in business, I swear! Sweet and Sour Sauce was served with the Chinese food, but Cherry Sauce had to be served with the fish. The meal just wasn’t complete without it!
Copycat Dainty Beef Flavoured Rice
- 2 cup instant rice, brown or white
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 cup salted butter
- 1 whole beef bouillon cube
- 1/2 teaspoon browning liquid
- 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Add all ingredients except the rice to a medium sized pot. Over high heat, bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, stir in the rice.
- Cover and reduce heat to low.
- Allow rice to cook for 10-12 minutes.
- Remove lid and fluff rice with a fork. Garnish (optional) and serve.