Page 1 of 1

The best way to cook rice

Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 01:49
by el Ducko
A young friend of mine recently wrote a great treatise on rice cooking, which she facetiously was going to title, "Rice Cooking for Blondes." (She's actually quite a good cook, and overly modest. You decide.) Here for your cooking enjoyment:

Rice Cooking: 'Ah So,' or 'Uh Oh'? So Many Variations!
Basic Recipe
There are lots of ways to cook rice. The trouble is, they all depend on a couple of things, all of which can go wrong.
● Heat input. No two stoves are alike. No two pots are alike. No two pot lids are alike. Non-stick versus aluminum versus iron. Ethnic styles of pots.
● Heating rate. Constant, or fast start and then simmer? Finish in the oven? Everyone has her own trick, and I've got several.
● Quantity of rice. A standard amount is good, but what if you need lots, or not much?
● Ratio of water to rice. What kind of rice is it, anyway: instant or parboiled (such as Uncle Ben's), short grain, long grain, brown, wild?
● Desired end state: sticky (for Chinese dishes), sushi-use, separate grains for Indian dishes, porridge-like for Italian risotto...
● Altitude, if above 5,000 feet / 1,500 meters.
There are an infinite number of variations on rice dishes, all of which can affect cooking.
● Rice with single or multiple added ingredients.
● Ethnic variations such as birhyani, paella...
● Other grains and grain products, such as barley, bulgar wheat, couscous...
The Answer
I may not be very smart, but I have smart friends. One of 'em is a statistician of Chinese descent, who feeds her family a lot of rice. She says, and it makes a lot of sense, that you should try to eliminate variability by dividing rice cooking into its component parts and attacking the ones with the biggest chance of error first. Her recommendation, and an obvious first step: buy a rice cooker.

She took me to a Chinese grocery. They have all sorts and sizes of rice cookers, and they're cheap. Figure out what size you need by how many mouths you have to feed at a time. My two girls, my spouse and I eat the equivalent of one cup of uncooked rice per serving (or about twice that volume, cooked) at most. ...smallest rice cooker. ...a no-brainer, even for us blondes. It comes with a scoop. You measure in the rice, then the water. ...couldn't be easier. ...ten bucks. What you get, by using a rice cooker, is a reproducible rate of heat addition, so you cut out the variability introduced by being unable to ever set the stove burner the same way twice.

And then, she takes me to the rice section. "What kind do you like?" she asks.

I pale. "I dunno. ...rice. Isn't rice just... rice?"

Youngest daughter points from her perch in the grocery cart's seat. "What's that, Mommy?" It's a stack of bags of rice, and they each look like they weigh more than Mommy does. I pale. I imagine myself struggling with a monstrous sack of the stuff. Youngest girl asks, "What's-a-matter, Mommy? ...feel bad?"

Long story, short- - They sell all sorts of sizes, all sorts of types. The larger ethnic groceries cater to multiple nationalities, including a growing number of Hispanic clientele. We bought smaller bags of sushi rice, jasmine rice, and arborio rice. She helped me heft a twenty pound sack of basmati rice into the cart, for Indian cooking.

...and on each package, it gives instructions for how much water to add per pound of rice. That eliminates another source of variability, my friend says, because how much water you put in determines the cooking time.

"Huh...?" I say.

She patiently explains that it takes a certain quantity of heat to evaporate a given amount of water. If you put in heat at a certain rate, the water comes up to boiling temperature and stays there while the water boils, until it boils away. You have just enough water to last for the fifteen to twenty minutes it takes the rice to cook, plus the amount taken up by the rice. When the water is gone, there's none left to take up the heat so the heating element gets hot, its resistance goes down, the current goes up, the circuit breaker pops, and the cooker shuts off.

So, I've had my statistics and my electrical engineering lessons for the morning, and I'm only out the price of the cooker and the rice. ...not bad.

"So," she says, "by using the cooker and adding the right amount of rice and water, we've eliminated the variability in the first list. ..easy, huh?" She kindly leaves off what they usually add, " easy that even a blonde can do it."

"Well, yeah," I confess, but I know better. "So, what about it being sticky, huh?"

"...proper water amount," she says. "That, plus proper type. See that one?" She points to a bag labeled 'glutinous rice.' "All you have to do is pick the right type of rice, and add the proper amount of water. If you want it stickier, add a bit more water so it'll cook longer. I wouldn't add less water to go the other way, though. It wouldn't cook long enough to become tender."

"And what about instant or parboiled rice?" I asked.

She shook her head. "All the nutrients have been cooked out and lost. Don't eat that stuff. ...empty calories."

I made a face. Youngest daughter saw it. "Yukky, Mommy?"

The Recipe
So there you have it. Here's a list of approximate water-to-rice ratios for different types of rice. For all recipes, add the designated amount of rice called for by your rice cooker, then a bit of salt and a little oil or butter, then the proper amount of water.

Many ethnic recipes call for rinsing the rice first. This is a good idea, because it washes out the talc (added so it looks whiter) and dust (added to raise the package weight and cheat you) and critters. "Critters...?" you say. "EEEWWWW!"

Well, as one Bangladeshi friend of mine once explained, "If it won't support life, why would you want to eat it?"

Yecchh! Personally, I'd prefer not to eat rice with critters in it, but if a few get through, they'll be killed and sterilized by the cooking, so maybe it's okay.

...just don't tell the family.

Rice-to-Water Ratios

ratio type
1:1.25 Japanese (Kome) rice
1:1.5 Basmati rice
1:2 Glutinous rice
1:2 Short grain rice
1:2.5 Brown rice
1:2.5 Wild rice

Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 02:10
by ajwillsnet
Best all purpose rice-- " Par Boiled long grain rice"
If you are after a flaky white rice that is consistent every time, give parboiled rice a try. Parboiled rice is not what it sounds like. It actually is a rice that has been put under pressure and has actually more nutrients that standard long grain rice. Walmart carry it as well as most grocery stores. Don't bother rinsing it. Mix one cup of rice to 2 cups of water. Bring to a full boil uncovered. Cover and turn the stove down to its lowest setting for twenty minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve it up. You may find a small variation depending on your stove and elevation, but not any big differences.
Give it a try. Much cheaper than a rice cooker and very good.

Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 03:09
A friend of mine with a oriental dinner told me to cover the rice the depth of the second knuckle on your middle finger with your hand flat on top of the rice. With only very minor differences it works for all the different rices I have made, Sticky, long grain, brown, and Basmati. Not near as perfect as your friends system but it works for me.

Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 04:22
by Chuckwagon
Hey Duckster, thanks for the info on rice, BUT.... what about.... what about....

Hey, what about the "Saddlebum Science"? :roll:

Nutritionists these days, insist at least half the calories we consume should come from something called "complex carbohydrates". This type carb is stored in our muscle tissues and is released as energy whenever we need it. Rice contains two types of starch. Short-grain rice, having almost round kernels, contains more amylopectin than amylose and its cooked grains are more sticky than those of long grain rice. When rice is boiled, the starches absorb water, swell up, and the grains expand. On the other hand, long-grain rice has slender kernels, four times longer than their width and cooked grains are separate, light, and fluffy as they contain more amylose than amylopectin. Although freshly cooked, hot, long-grain rice is too sticky for use in fried rice dishes, when cooled, it goes through a process called retrogradation, where amylose starch molecules realign within each single grain of rice as they separate perfectly for fried rice.

Brown rice has only the hull removed and has a slightly chewy texture and nut-like flavor. It requires more cooking time in more water and its tan color is caused by the presence of bran layers, rich in minerals and vitamins.

Please try Thai Jasmine Scented white rice. Its flavor is exquisite and is by far, our favorite. For some reason it has not quite "caught on" in America although lately it seems a bit more popular. Purchase it in Asian markets and wash it thoroughly. If you`d like it "sticky", rinse it quickly then cook it. For fluffier rice, eliminate some of its amylopectin by soaking it fifteen minutes before rinsing it well beneath cold water.

Rice has all eight essential amino acids necessary for building a six-shooter`s strength. In fact, rice is one of the best choices a wrangler could slap on his plate for dinner. Did you know the stuff only contains 100 calories per half-cup, is totally salt and cholesterol free, has only a trace of fat, is easy to digest, is gluten-free, and is non-allergenic? In addition, rice just happens to be one of those foods we all need for what it does not contain!

Rice is economical and simple to prepare. It`s terrific in certain sausages too, because its neutral flavor readily blends with other flavors. Did you know about two thirds of the world`s population depends upon rice in their diets daily? In fact, in the Far East, people eat 325 pounds per person annually! Ask any Cajun what their favorite filling in their boudin is - they`ll tell you it is rice.

Best Wishes,

Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 17:15
by Maz
"Please try Thai Jasmine Scented white rice. Its flavor is exquisite and is by far,"
Hey Chuck if the members on the forum have not eaten Thai rice they are sure missing out. Also love Basmati , when I dish up curry I like the the portion of rice to curry to be 2/3 rice to 1/3 curry otherwise the flavour of the rice is somewhat lost.
A good article on parboiled rice here.


Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 19:30
by Swallow
DLFL wrote:A friend of mine with a oriental dinner told me to cover the rice the depth of the second knuckle on your middle finger with your hand flat on top of the rice. With only very minor differences it works for all the different rices I have made, Sticky, long grain, brown, and Basmati. Not near as perfect as your friends system but it works for me.
As me little woman is of South East Asian descent we eat a lot of rice, like I mean we eat A LOT of Rice . I used to have a rice cooker (She being the aforementioned little woman though it away) all the while sniggering in Siamese about only in the west,(I hate it when she does that) Anyhoos ever since the rice cooker went to meet it's maker we have been using a wok (of which we have ten) and bamboo steamers to cook rice. Partially Cook the rice and then add layers to cook the veg, works every time, and it all gets done at the same time. For large batches we also use the knuckle trick, it also works every time, and it's cheap.

Sorry that I quoted, but it's been hard to stay on the Wagon, Chuck, Just hope I don't get a spankin.


Posted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 19:48
by el Ducko
Thanks to all who have commented (or plan to comment) on rice cooking. Isn't it great that we can share such diverse opinions on what at first looks like such a simple topic?

I emailed Dee and gave her the link. She was thrilled that so many people have responded. (...then she asked me what size my knuckles were.) Keep up the good comments.

...and speaking of rice, anybody have an opinion on the best biryani recipe? I've seen Pakistani and Gujarati and Bangladeshi get into fist fights over this one, so as Chuckwagon might say, "Put up yer dukes."

We would use sausage in the biryani, of course. Here's a fresh sausage recipe from Madhur Jaffrey (who writes great cookbooks I might add). ... tties.html

Anglo-Indian sausage patties
450g minced pork, preferably a bit fatty
3 tbsp shallots or red onions, peeled and finely chopped
100g fresh coriander, chopped
1/2-3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garam masala, preferably home-made but shop-bought will do
2 tsp olive or rapeseed oil

You should probably brown the sausage in small patties or balls, then add to the biryani between the boiling step and the oven step. (Curious as to the recipe? Lemme know.)

Posted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 03:42
by Big Guy
This works for me

in a pot add 1 tbs olive oil, add desired amount of rice, add 1 tsp salt, add 5x water to the rice volume IE if you put in 1 cup rice add 5 cups water. Boil for 15 minutes no lid. turn off heat drain water off rice place back on warm burner and give a stir, place lid on pot wait 15 minutes. Your rice is ready.

Posted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 16:08
el Ducko; my knuckles are about the right size apparently. :lol:

Posted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 22:32
by vagreys
If I'm making plain, long-grain white rice, I put a cup of rice, 2 cups of water, and a pinch of salt in a heavy, microwave-safe, covered casserole. Then, I microwave on high for 5 minutes, followed by 15 minutes at 50% power, then let it rest, covered, 5 minutes. Perfect, fluffy rice every time.

Posted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 17:54
by Oxide
A trick I learned from an Asian friend to get perfect rice every time ... go down to the closest Chinese restaurant and for 50-cents you can get a big goldfish box full of warm, ready to go, perfect rice. I've tried it, works every time. :mrgreen:

Posted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 18:22
by el Ducko
...and the goldfish is delicious! :mrgreen:

Posted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 18:23
by ssorllih
Yup! ten miles round trip and it is cold when I get home.

Posted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 03:52
by Oxide
ssorllih wrote:Yup! ten miles round trip and it is cold when I get home.
Indeed. They say cooking in the countryside takes longer. Or was that cooking in the mountains?!? :?: :mrgreen: