Coming back once again to our trip to Southeast Asia: rice is everywhere! So I thought some ideas about rice cooking might be worth sharing… (plus: every now & then I come across posts dealing w/ rice cooking when roaming the food blogs’ internet – obviously such a simple task is tackled over & over again! Why?)
There are posts in the food blog universe how to deal w/ rice cooking – most of them suggest a rather complicated process… however, I recently found a recipe alike mine suggestion for simple rice cooking: How to make rice without a recipe (published by Simply Recipes in May 2017) which confirms me to do it the simple way!
Rice is basic food: you may serve plain rice as a side dish, you may enrich plain rice w/ spices & herbs & vegetables (still a side dish), you may fry rice w/ vegetables, meat, fish or whatever (becoming now slowly a main dish) & you may definitely serve rice as a main dish (think of risotto, paella…)…
Always you’ll start w/ cooking rice or so… what’s the challenge?
At first let me clarify my starting point…
For the record:
We won’t be dealing w/ brown rice (aka wholegrain rice)… & the ongoing discussion about the useful nutrients on the one side & the pollutant damages on the other side won’t be continued in this post. If you’re interested start by asking Wikipedia & roaming the Internet further on!
Which rice you’ll find in my pantry?
It’s always long grain rice & short grain rice – both of them.
I need short grain rice – like Italian Arborio rice – for any risotto, any paella… (pls remember my risotto post). Working w/ short grain rice means that you just take the rice & fry/cook it in the broth. Never start rinsing any short grain rice because you’ll need the rice starch around the rice grains to thicken your risotto or paella… to create the creamy finish finally. (It isn’t appropriate to care for the creaminess by adding potato or corn starch or whatever…!)
Coming to long grain rice: I usually work w/ Himalayan Basmati rice from India or Yasmine rice from Thailand… & I cook the rice in lots of water!
For the record:
I don’t use a professional rice cooker because I don’t have one lounging on a shelf in my kitchen. I learnt from my cooking past that there are lots of kitchen tools – very specialized kitchen tools! – that have a limited range of use, but nevertheless need space. No kitchen has unlimited space… If you need a kitchen tool on rare occasions… better think twice before buying or asking for one.
In general I start with 250 gr long grain rice (for up to 4 servings) & 1ooo ml cold water. You may add some salt at this point…
The water gets milky as soon as the water starts boiling.
From the very beginning you should stir the water-rice-mix in the pot – best is a spatula to cover scraping the bottom of the pot. It needs about 7-8 min until the water is boiling: let it bubble for about 2 min – then reduce the heat to very low. It should simmer for the next 9-10 min.
Drain the hot water by pouring the mess in a colander: add cool tap water!
Voilà: cooked rice!
You may have noticed that I didn’t rinse the rice before cooking… I don’t think it’s necessary unless you work w/ „dirty“ rice. Rinsing the rice mainly means clearing the rice from remaining rice starch: in the end the cooked rice is less sticky than w/o rinsing… well: we are not talking about “really sticky“ rice which may be enjoyed w/ chop sticks…
For the record:
If you like sticky rice – the real Chinese way – watch out for Chinese sticky rice in your trusted food store!
When rinsing the rice take a colander, fill your sink w/ cold water & dip & sway… Let the milky water go & restart!
I did it for about 5 times until the cold water remained clear. Then I started cooking (250 gr rice w/ 1000 ml water).
Well: although the rinsing led to clear water, the water got milky when boiling. It’s the same timing as before. It’s the same action as before…
Voilà: cooked rice!
- w/o rinsing before cooking: the rice is fluffy, but a little (only a little!) sticky
- w/rinsing before cooking: the rice is fluffy & even a little less sticky.
What do I do w/ cooked rice?
Cooked rice is perfectly fit for resting in the fridge for up to a week or so & getting reheated in the microwave as well as chilling in the freezer for weeks or even months & getting reheated… you know!
Generally I cook about 500 gr rice, cool it by running tap water, fill some containers (about 400 ml is perfect fit for 2 servings!) & put them in the fridge or the freezer. There’s no quality loss. It’s easy just to grab for for any weekday dinner! It’s fine for any side dish or for frying.
Until now I entertained by talking about cooking rice w/ lots of water. There’s another approach: the steaming method. In this case you also start w/ 250 gr rice, but you add only so much water that’s about twice the volume of the rice. Then start heating stirring once or twice: when the water is boiling add a well-fitting lid, reduce the heat to very (!) low & wait for about 20 min. During this time the rice soaks. When finally lifting the lid there’s no more water, but only fluffy cooked rice… fine!
This is a pot after having cooked rice in lots of water… fine!
Unfortunately at the moment I don’t have any body of proof when having steamed rice… but I assure you that it doesn’t look like the pot above. Every time I used the steaming method the pot ended up w/ a solid layer of „burnt“ rice on the bottom – which wasn’t so easy to get off…
Therefore think twice before working w/ the steaming method!
Well, another point: I like rice really soft i. e. well cooked – I don’t like rice in a state like „al dente“ i. e. rather hard. (I remember rice like this w/ lots of oil – making a great visual impact! – in cafeterias, canteens, lunchrooms…)
Fortunately, when using the cooking method or the steaming method it’s only time you need to produce well cooked rice!
At last: of course there are lots of “rice specialities” in your trusted food store… on-again-off-again I like to work w/ a special rice like black rice or red rice or purple rice or whatever from any edge of the world. The best approach is to read the cooking instruction on the packet & stick to it. „Special” rice may need special rinsing (or not!), special amounts of water, special cooking time…
The businesswoman w/ too many office hours thinks
Rice… I like rice & I like to have some ready-to-use rice in my fridge or my freezer. It’s efficient to cook a lot of rice once & store it appropriately for individual use.
„Special“ rice – I like to try, but I always try to spend all of the „special“ in a special event dinner (or so) – otherwise you’ll get odd leftovers in small quantities.