Friday, July 17, 2015

Dad's Perfect White Rice

So many people go out and spend money on "rice cookers" because they are frustrated with how their pot-cooked rice turns out.   Or they are intimidated by the "art" of rice cooking.   But my Dad showed me an amazingly SIMPLE way to get rice-cooker-quality steamed rice from a pot/pan, with little or no effort.   This method is so easy, its literally "walk away for 20 minutes, come back and its done!".  It has worked for me for 20 years, without fail.   Follow this method and among the foodies, you will always be known as "the one who makes great rice".   Below is a simple basic recipe, with helpful tips and information down at the bottom.   You can double/triple the recipe as needed.   

Dad’s Perfect White Rice  
(Works for most kinds of rice, but brown rice might need more time) 

1 cup long grain white rice (regular or Basmatti)
2 cups cold water


Rice has an easy "2 to 1" formula.  Meaning 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice.   And the cooked rice will always be equal to the water you use.    To be clear, here is a little reference chart:

1 cup uncooked rice + 2 cups water = 2 cups cooked rice
2 cups uncooked rice + 4 cups water = 4 cups cooked rice
3 cups uncooked rice + 6 cups water = 6 cups cooked rice

Etc., etc.  This recipe is simple:  Boil the water, add the rice, cover and walk away for 20 minutes-- DONE.   That's it.   Easy.   

1.        Use a pan or pot large enough to hold all the water with at least an inch or so left at the top.  Bigger is great too.    Be sure your pot/pan has a tight-fitting lid.   Pour water into into the pot/pan and bring to a boil over high heat. 
2.       As soon as the water is boiling, dump the rice in.   Use a fork to immediately stir the rice for about 10 seconds, gently mashing out any clumps that may form. 
3.       Make sure the rice is all even under the water (at a flat level).   Wait until the rice starts to boil.   Cover with a tight lid.  
4.       Turn the heat down to LOW.  Then walk away.   Come back in about 20 minutes to check if it is done.     DO NOT STIR OR LIFT THE LID DURING THIS TIME.   Any steam/heat that escapes will greatly affect the quality of your rice and the cooking time.   Steam is very important to rice cooking and must be kept inside.  
5.       After 20 minutes, remove the lid and tilt the pan to the side to see if any water remains.   If not, taste a small spoonful of rice from the center (for some odd reason most under-cooked rice is in the center).   It should be in individual grains and tender.  If the water is gone and the rice is tender—its done.   Remove from the heat and let it stand 5 minutes.    Fluff gently with a fork and serve.  
Tips:   If the rice is crunchy and water remains, cover and continue cooking.  But if it is crunchy and there is NO water, add a little water and continue cooking.

Helpful Rice Information:  

Rice cooked properly, with the correct water/rice ratio and the right temperatures, should be fluffy, in individual grains and tender.  This method cooks on a low heat, so there is no burning, and therefore no stirring, which means less stickiness.   Plus the exact measurements means all the water is absorbed, and there is no straining needed.

Rice should not be soupy, gloppy, mushy or crunchy.   Stirring rice throughout cooking can cause it to be extremely sticky (from the starches moving around), and even mush it all together, almost like mashed potatoes.   You really should not stir rice, except for a few seconds in the beginning, to break up clumps.   When it is done, try not to touch or stir the rice for at least 5 minutes.   Rice is extremely brittle with it is first done.   It needs a few minutes for the grains to settle into their shape.   After 5 minutes, it is ok to gently fluff the rice with a fork. 

Did You Know?-- The Chinese sometimes purposely make their rice extra sticky, so it is easy to pick up in chunks, with chop sticks.  Or so it will stick and form on sushi better.  But for other dishes, its better for the rice to have single grains, and be fluffy.  

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