My father is Japanese, so rice was served with every meal. Knowing how to cook rice in an Asian household is practically a rite of passage, which is why it’s almost comical that everyone I know of Asian descent has basically no idea how to cook rice on the stovetop. When you eat rice every day, the convenience of a rice cooker is essential. I have spent my entire life relying on that little magical piece of kitchen equipment – the rice cooker. It was time I ventured out and obtained the knowledge and skill to make rice on the stove.
The first matter to address – to rinse or not to rinse? That is indeed the question! And the answer is to rinse your rice. Rinsing rice will actually prevent clumping and provide a fresher, cleaner taste. A powder coats each grain, which can be a mixture of talc, rice powder, or glucose powder. All of these are safe to eat, but can affect the taste and texture, making your rice down right gluey if not removed. The only exception to rinsing would be something like a risotto, when the extra starch creates a creamy texture that is essential to the dish.
To rinse the rice, place the desired amount of rice in a large bowl of cold water and swish the rice around with your hand until the water becomes cloudy. Carefully pour off the water and repeat the process of rinsing and pouring until the water is nearly clear.
There are multitudes of ways to cook rice. I will discuss the 3 most popular techniques – steaming, boiling, and the pilaf method. In terms of cooking times, one should rely on the manufacturer’s instructions. However, if you don’t have those directions available, I have included a chart that will give you an estimate of cooking times. Remember, these times are just a ‘rule of thumb’.
|RULES OF THUMB|
|Rice||Parts liquid to 1 part rice (by volume)||Cooking time (minutes)|
|U.S. arborio||4-1/2||20 – 30|
|U.S. basmati||1-3/4||20 – 25|
|U.S. jasmine||1-3/4||20 – 25|
|Brown, long grain||2-1/4||40 – 45|
|Brown, medium grain||2||45 – 50|
|Brown, short grain||2||45 – 50|
|Parboiled||2||25 – 30|
|White, long grain||1-3/4||18 – 20|
|White, medium grain||1-1/2||20 – 30|
|White, short grain||1-1/2||20 – 30|
Chart provided by: USA Rice Federation: http://riceinfo.com/culinary-education/cooking-methods/
The secret to making perfectly steamed rice is to make sure you cover the rice with 1 inch of water above the surface of the rice. The OCD side of you may want an exact ratio of water to rice, but trust me… this method works! Just make sure it’s truly an inch of water – too much will result in a gluey mess, while too little will yield a grain with too much bite. (The times noted in the instructions below are for long-grain white rice. Times may vary for other types of rice).
- Rinse the rice.
- Place the rinsed and drained rice into a heavy-bottomed pot. Add enough water to cover the surface of the rice with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Continue to boil, uncovered for 15 minutes. When the rice is done, most of the surface water will be evaporated and the rice will have a crater-like surface.
- Turn the heat down, as low as it will go, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Allow the rice to steam undisturbed for 15 minutes. Remove the lid and allow to rest/cool for 5 minutes before serving.
The boiling method, otherwise known as the pasta method, is the simplest way to cook rice. I was hesitant to try this technique as I’ve been steaming rice – albeit in a rice cooker but nonetheless still steaming – ever since I was child. However, I was quite surprised to find out this method is really very easy, virtually foolproof, and produces great results! (This method works best for brown rice. Times may vary for other types of rice).
- Rinse the rice.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil (a large pot of water like you’re making pasta). Add the rice and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes until tender. Drain the rice in a colander and allow to rest/cool for 5 minutes before serving.
This method cooks rice in a seasoned broth – so it should be packed with a ton of flavor! The rice is toasted in butter, ghee, or olive oil along with some aromatics, then simmered in liquid and allowed to rest. The rice pilaf should be light and fluffy in texture with individual grains separate and firm. (This method works well for any type of rice. I recommend trying basmati rice).
- Heat the butter, ghee, or olive oil a large saucepan over low heat. Sweat some aromatics, like onions and/or peppers. Increase the heat to medium and add the rice, stirring frequently. Avoid letting the rice brown, although it should become opaque. Toasting the rice serves two purposes; it brings out a wonderful nutty flavor and keeps the starches from being released, which would cause the rice to become gluey.
- Add 1-3/4 cups of broth for every cup of rice. Give the rice a quick stir and then allow it to simmer undisturbed for 18-20 minutes.
- Turn the heat off, cover with a tight-fitting lid and allow it to sit undisturbed for 5 minutes. Once the rice has had time to rest, fold in the ingredients to build flavor and color such as: nuts, cheeses, fresh herbs, leafy greens, or a precooked protein.