Giving plain rice to a foodie is just like giving an artist a blank canvas: there is so much potential. As a college student far from home, sometimes the right food is just the perfect way to drive away some of that homesickness. However, seeking out your favorite dishes or cooking them up yourself can be such a hassle. My solution: keep a couple of mix-ins on hand! These mix-ins are simple, versatile, delicious, and can be added to a variety of dishes. The ones I use in particular are drawn from my childhood favorites, so they stem from East Asian cuisines. So whether you've got some rice accompanying another dish or just rice by itself, here are 4 ways to change up plain rice.

1. Furikake (Rice Seasoning)

Lauren Chiu

Furikake is a Japanese rice seasoning mix consisting of seaweed, sesame, salt, and sugar; other common ingredients include chili flakes, miso powder, and bonito flakes. Furikake has a strong flavor profile from the seaweed, so it very much invokes the sea-salty ocean taste. The sesame seeds give it a satisfying crunch that will give your rice a bit of fun texture. Furikake can be found at many stores such as Walmart and Whole Foods.

2. Rousong (Meat Floss)

Lauren Chiu

Originating from China, rousong is meat that has been boiled, braised or seasoned, dried, torn into thin pieces, then stir-fried into a fluffy consistency. Rousong typically is made from pork, but can also be made from beef, chicken, and fish. Rousong's light, airy texture makes for a nice contrast to rice, and its savory, meaty flavor will take your rice to the next level. Rousong can be found at a variety of stores, including 99 Ranch Market and Walmart.

3. Sesame Oil and Sesame Seeds

Lauren Chiu

Sesame oil and sesame seeds are very popular in Korean cuisine, commonly used in marinades, as dipping sauces, in seasonings, and more. Mixing rice with a bit of sesame oil and sesame seeds makes for a rich, almost nutty flavor. Sesame oil is quite strong, so a little goes a long way. It will also give your rice an eye-catching, shiny finish. Note: sesame oil is referring to toasted sesame oil; unrefined sesame oil is different from toasted sesame oil and will not taste the same. Sesame seeds can be found in the seasoning section of most grocery stores, and sesame oil can be found at many stores such as Whole Foods and Walmart.

4. Shichimi Togarashi (7 Spice Blend)

Lauren Chiu

Shichimi togarashi is a Japanese spice blend that typically includes red chili peppers, Sichuan or Sansho peppers, black and white sesame seeds, dried orange peel, ground ginger, and roasted seaweed. This combination of ingredients makes for a rounded taste, with notes of umami, a little sweetness, and some earthiness. Shichimi togarashi is perfect when you want just a bit of heat in your rice. Shichimi togarashi can be found at many stores such as Walmart and Whole Foods.

*Spoon Tip: some of these can even be combined, like furikake and rousong, making for an even tastier experience.

And that's it, 4 simple ways to change up plain rice. Enjoy!