How to cook great rice, every time.
Rice is one of those ubiquitous starches that’s often served with some of our favourite foods – curry, roast chicken and stew – as well as being the hero in many classics like risotto, tahdig, paella, bibimbap and biryani. Like potatoes, there are countless varieties, each with its own special starch content, size and shape. The rice you cook also depends on the way you’re going to use it. Looking for a sticky, clumpy rice? Choose a short grain variety. If you’re after firm, individual cooked grains, long grain rice is the right pick. Common varieties of long grain rice are basmati and jasmine (both have a wonderful aroma).
We’re going to take you through answers to a few of the common questions that many cooks are often faced with and explain how to make the perfect pot of rice.
Do I need to rinse the rice first?
Rinsing rice grains changes its texture when cooked. If you want perfectly separate grains, rinsing the rice in cold water first removes the thin layer of starch from the surface of each grain and helps keep the rice from sticking together. Rice softens through what’s called gelatinisation – a chemical process that only happens when heat and moisture are present, where the starch granules absorb the water and lose their crystallinity (the solid structure).
Hot water or cold water?
Always start with cold water and bring to the boil as fast as possible – then reduce the heat so the rice steams as it cooks. It’s important that the water is cold to begin with because it allows the grains to gradually absorb the water and ensures that they cook evenly. If uncooked rice is added to boiling water, the intense heat will cook the outside of the grains too quickly before the inside has a chance to soften.
Should I stir it?
The short answer is no! Once the rice grains have softened, the starch is able to more easily transfer into the water and you don’t want to agitate that. The more you stir, the more of a mushy, gloopy rice you’ll start to get. However, stirring is important with dishes like risotto, where the starch from the rice will create a necessary creamy texture.
Lid on or off?
Find a pot with a lid that fits well because the key to cooking great rice is limiting the evaporation of water. Having the lid on means that the steam inside is trapped and lowers the heat intensity – this lets the rice gradually absorb the water and swell up perfectly.
For ratios of water to rice, always follow the package instructions.
i cook my rice in the microwave….never a miss and no pots to clean, especially if I burn the rice.
Actually, in my personal opinion, the best way to cook rice is by baking it. Preheat the oven to 200. Use a non-stick baking dish, add water as per the amount recommended for that type of rice, seal tightly with tin foil and bake. Let rice bake for about 10 minutes to get the water boiling, then reduce oven temperature to 140 and bake for about 20 minutes. For savory rice simply add onions, mushrooms, other veggies or some stock before sealing. You can open it carefully to check it’s done and replace foil and cook a bit longer if necessary. Take care when opening foul because piping hot steam rushes out and can burn your hand. This way of cooking avoids the starchy water over boiling (it always does if you put a lid on) and it won’t burn so easily if you forget about it.
the instructions on rice packets are invariably wrong, they always advised too little water. There’s only one way to cook perfect rice and that’s in the microwave for 25 minutes per cup of dry rice and three cups of water, with the lid off so the rice doesn’t boil over and mess up the microwave. If you want to cook it on top of the stove, it takes a while longer but the proportions are the same and the lid must be tilted or the rice will surely boil over. it needs just less than a half teaspoon of salt in the water
My method has never failed me. I always rinse the rice in cold water and always add 2 parts of water to 1 part of rice and season with salt according to quantity of rice cooked. Then, in a pot with a well fitted lid, I bring it to the boil and immediately turn heat right down and steam the rice for 20 minutes. No burning, no mess, no fuss and rice is cooked perfectly.