- HOW TO COOK RICE
Kiwi's shy away from rice due to a fear of cooking it.
While exactly how rice cooks changes from variety to variety,
getting consistently good results is not impossible. In
fact, the method that works best is practically the same
as the one on the back of the box. But what the back of
the box neglects to mention is the importance of letting
the rice rest before serving it.
you soak rice depends on time and tradition.
Apart from habit, the reasons for soaking rice are to
shorten the cooking time and to allow for maximum expansion
of long-grain rice, particularly basmati. A soak also
makes the grains a little less brittle so they're less
likely to break during cooking. If I'm using older basmati,
which needs to be treated carefully if it's not to break,
I soak it first. (Recipes vary in suggested soaking times,
with 30 minutes most common.) But for most everyday meals,
I skip this step and still get good results. If you do
soak your rice, be sure to drain it thoroughly or you'll
be using more water in cooking than you intended.
Cooking rice by the absorption method is simple and
In this process, the rice is cooked in a measured amount
of water so that by the time the rice is cooked, all the
water has been absorbed. As the water level drops, trapped
steam finishes the cooking.
For every cup of rice, use 1-1/2 to 2 cups of water (less
if the rice is washed first). You'll need to experiment
a little to find the amount you like best, but in general,
use the larger amount for long-grain rice, the lesser
for medium and short. Keep in mind that more water gives
you softer, stickier ricegreat for stir-fries. Less
water will keep the grains more separate and result in
firmer rice, a good style for rice salads.
Use a sturdy pot with a tight-fitting lid
You want a pot with a heavy base for the most even cooking,
and one that's big enough to provide plenty of room above
the rice for steam. A tight lid keeps the steam in. If
your lid fits loosely, put a clean kitchen cloth between
the lid and the pot. (Be sure to fold it over onto the
pot so it doesn't burn.) The cloth also absorbs the water
that would normally condense on the inside of the lid
and fall back down into the rice, so this is also a good
trick to get drier, fluffier rice. A bit of butter or
olive oil will also help keep the grains from sticking
together, while a little salt adds flavor.
Once all the ingredients are combined, cover the rice
and let it simmer. On an electric stove, use two burners:
bring the rice to a boil on a hot burner and then immediately
slide it to a burner set on low to continue cooking at
a slow simmer. After about 12 minutes, the liquid should
be absorbed, and the rice still al dente. If you served
the rice now, you'd find the top layer drier and fluffier
than the bottom, which can be very moist and fragile.
Here's where you need patience. Let the rice sit off the
heat, undisturbed with the lid on, for at least 5 minutes
and for as long as 30. This results in a uniform texture,
with the bottom layers as fluffy as the top. That a pot
of rice actually improves with a rest also gives you more
flexibility for cooking the rest of the meal.
What about rice cookers?
Whenever I travel in rice-eating regions, I ask about
the favorite local method or vessel for cooking rice.
Invariably, the answer is "Why, a rice cooker, of
course." Rice cookers may be worthwhile if you cook
a lot of rice. But, like cooking rice on the stovetop,
it takes experience to find the amount of water that works
best for your favorite rice.