Penguin Rice

Here's a little story for you, to explain the somewhat bizarre name of this dish. Penguin Rice.

After I finished my uni degree, I got a job working as a field ecologist on a penguin colony in Argentina. I wish I could do justice to a description of the place. The ocean was too cold for swimming and full of noisy seabirds. You could find perfectly smooth red pebbles on the beach from where the waves pounded the red rocks. The penguins nested in burrows in the sides of hills or under prickly bushes to keep out of the hot Patagonian sun, and brayed like donkeys, half a million in number. We worked hard - counting, tracking, catching, banding, measuring, walking, flagging, surveying. We saw tarantulas and guanacos and rheas and maras and elephant seals and skuas and got bitten by penguin-fleas. It was amazing.

And during the 6 months we worked with the penguins, my co-worker Amy used to make this super yummy pasta dish pretty regularly. With cabbage, and onion, and enough butter to explain my substantial weight gain that summer. (Well, almost - the Argentinian wine probably had something to do with it, too ... )

So, this is my adaptation of Amy's dish. Feel free to use pasta instead of rice - that's how she used to make it. Salud!

Penguin Rice

Serves 4-6
Preparation time 30 min

1 onion, chopped
2 c cabbage and/or brussels sprouts, chopped
3 Tbs butter
1 tsp salt
3 c cooked white rice (feel free to use brown - I just have loads of white at the moment)
1 Tbs butter
salt and pepper to taste

*try to use organic ingredients when you can

1. Make extra rice - it will always come in handy in the following few days ... I'll leave it to you to determine how much, but as a general rule 2 cups of water + 1 c raw rice = 3 c cooked rice.

2. Heat 3 Tbs butter in a skillet over med-high heat. Saute the onion in the butter until soft and translucent. Add the cabbage and/or brussels sprouts and salt and saute for another few minutes, until they are soft as well (but not soggy).

3. Turn the heat down to low, add the rice and the rest of the butter, and stir to combine. Season to taste. You're done!

4. Robbie had this as a side, I had it as a main. If you like butter, it's gonna be hard to resist ...

How much did this cost me?

My all-organic batch of Penguin Rice cost me less than $3. The onion was about $0.70, the cabbage and brussels sprouts were actually handed down to us by some friends who were going away (so free to me!), the rice was just under $1. The butter was the expensive part - $1.25.

Two good tips for you:

Make extra rice.
Before your friends go away on holiday, raid their veggie drawer.

Buen provecho!
Amanda xx

PS. If you want to know more about the penguins - click here.


  1. i was wondering how dinner worked in your household with your hubby being a meat-eater! your dinner is hubbys side dish?!
    does nell eat meat or vego too?

  2. Well ... my hubby's actually become pretty vego - except that once a month he'll go grocery shopping to pick up a steak or something, and come back with 2 steaks, some sausages and some kangaroo mince (or something likewise carnivorous). Meat binge! Nelle's mostly vego, but to be honest she is probably the most carnivorous child this vegetarian could have produced - she's always had fish and shows so much interest in Daddy's meat that we've let her try the good stuff. She LOVES it. And she eats her veggies pretending she's the shark and the veggie is Nemo ... alas, what can I do? :)

  3. What an awesome story to go along with the recipe. A penguin colony? How cool!

  4. It was amazing - I'd love to go back one day!


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Thanks for commenting! Amandaxx