How to Cook Rice!

Today we wrap up our foray into the wonderful world of rice. And, after learning about the difference between all sorts of varieties of this tasty grain, we’re ready to get down to business and make a batch of the stuff.

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I won’t be giving you the operator’s guide to a rice cooker because, while they’re handy, you can make an awesome pot of rice without having to invest in one-use gadgetry.

Instead, I’ll pass along a simple technique that – requiring just a pot, heat, and teeny spot in your memory – can go places no rice cooker can: campgrounds, rice cooker-less friends’ houses, maybe even the moon (we’ll see how that election turns out). I’ll also touch on some other common rice-cooking techniques, along with a few ways to make your rice, cooked to perfection, extra-tasty.

Friends, grab a suitable hat and hang onto it tight – it’s time for one last rice adventure!

Upload from February 06, 2012Good news, team: this standard approach – known as the absorption method – is easy stuff. The key is to combine rice in a pot with just as much water as it can absorb when cooked over low heat. Fortunately for you and I, other folks have already figured the right ratios of rice and water, and the optimal cooking times, for all kinds of rice. Good deal.

How to Cook Rice 
1 measure of dry rice yields ~3 measures of cooked rice

1 measure of rice
Corresponding measures of water (see table below)
Additional water for washing rice 

1.   Remove excess starch from the rice by swishing it in a pot of cold water, changing the water a few times until the water stays clear. Drain.*
2.   Add specified quantity of water to the pot (see table below).
3.   Bring water and rice to a boil over high heat, stirring once or twice to prevent the grains from sticking to the pot.
4.   As soon as the rice comes to a boil, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and reduce heat to the lowest setting possible. Cook for specified amount of time (see table below).
5.   When the time is up, remove pot from the heat and let sit 5-10 minutes (see table below). 
6.   Remove lid and let rice sit for a few minutes more to let excess heat and moisture escape.
7.   Using a fork, gently fluff rice to separate kernels from one another.
Upload from February 06, 2012*Removing excess starch helps prevent mushy, sticky rice. This step is a must for white rice!

Upload from February 06, 2012

While these are the industry-standards for awesome rice, lots of factors affect how your rice cooks (hence the range in cooking times!), including the shape and size of the grain, the thickness of your pot, the heat-level of your stove, and the list goes on. So if your rice doesn’t turn out perfect on the first go, simply adjust the cooking time or quantity of water as you see fit when you make your next batch. 

Upload from February 06, 2012Now that you’ve got the basics down, here are a few tips to making the standard method produce its best work!

  • Keep the lid on: Resist the urge to peek partway through the cooking process, or you’ll let valuable heat and moisture escape. Oh no!
  • Set a timer: One sure-fire way to soggy or burnt rice is to forget when you put it on the stove. Set a time both when you’re cooking and when you’re giving it it’s post-cooking rest.
  • Use an appropriate-sized pot: If your pot is too teeny, your rice will boil over into a mushy mess. For 1 cup of dry rice, I use a 1.5 L pot with great success!
  • Soaked rice = awesome rice: Soaking rinsed rice in cold water for half an hour before cooking gives the grains a chance to plump and soften. Once you’ve soaked the rice, drain and proceed with Step 2 as directed, reducing your water by about 1/8 of a measure. 

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Here are a few other easy paths to amazing rice!

  •  BoilingEssentially the same cooking technique you’d use for pasta, some folks simply chuck rice into a pot of boiling water and simmer it until it’s tender, draining off any excess liquid. This technique is particularly common with wild rice. 
  • Baking: This low-effort method of combining boiling water and rice in a casserole dish, covering and baking, is said to make for the best brown rice you’ll ever eat. Awesome! 
  • Steaming: This unusual approach involves setting rice and water in a bowl on a rack in a pot of more water, where the rice is then steamed. Gosh! Word has it, though, that it makes for the most tender jasmine rice around. 

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 Once you’ve got the standard technique down, give one of these tasty variations a try: 

Upload from February 06, 2012If you’re feeling really adventurous, skip the standard method and try mastering a technique specific to a dish built on a foundation of rice, such as risottopilaf or sushi

So there we have it team — from the difference between brown and white, to how to decipher other varieties, to how to cook the stuff — you’re armed with just about everything you need to know to make an awesome batch of rice from memory! To celebrate this momentous occassion, check back next week for a recipe that’s — everyone breathe a sigh of relief — rice-free!

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