There are so many great conversations on the Hotline -- it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge -- and to keep the conversation going.
Today: Stop thinking about it and just do it -- here's how to make perfect rice a reality.
If pasta is the life of the carb party, and bread is the staff of life, rice is decidedly more complicated. We adore it -- it's cheap, it's gluten-free, it globetrots from India to East Asia to Italy -- yet it seems as though we spend more time talking about how to cook it than we do actually making (and feasting on) it.
Before You Start
- Andrea Nguyen points out that "the amount of water varies per the type of rice." She uses 1 1/4 cups of water to 1 cup of regular, long-grain rice; 1 1/2 cups of water to 1 cup of basmati rice; and even more water for brown rice, though she recommends the partially milled 'beige' rice instead, since it cooks as quickly as white rice.
- When it's time to cook, Andrea Nguyen says: "Wash your rice to give it a good, clean flavor. The water won't be clear with white rice so there's no need to aim for that. Rather, aim to rinse off some of the starch. In a heavy saucepan, bring the rice and water to a boil over high heat, slightly lower the heat, stir occasionally 'til you see a few craters/holes and a glossy layer of liquid on top, then cover and put the heat to low. Cook 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit 10 minutes. Fluff, then sit 10 minutes. Refluff before serving. The sitting and fluffing finishes the cooking process, and separates the grains."
- HalfPint and dinner at ten both follow similar boil-cover-steam-fluff routines, though the difference is in the details -- HalfPint uses a 1:1 water to rice ratio, while dinner at ten uses a ratio of 2:1. Best to pay close attention on your first go-round, until you hit your magic number.
- Before she adds her water, dinner at ten does what Roberto Santibañez does: "Sauté 1 cup of rice in a heavy pot over medium heat in a bit of oil or butter until translucent." (Dave on the grill swears by this method, too.)
- For brown rice, Stephanie "basically fills the pot up," adds oil and spices, brings it to a good simmer, and lets it cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes. "At 30 minutes, turn off heat and drain off water while you count to 10. Cover pot and let the rice sit and steam for at least 10 minutes. Fluff and enjoy perfect rice with little fuss."
- Patty marguet never measures rice to water ratios, but advises: "always rinse well, pour it into a glazed baking dish with a glass lid, and sprinkle with salt. Cover with cool water a half-inch above the rice and bake at 400° F for 45 minutes to one hour, or until all of the water is absorbed. Remove the lid so the steam escapes; after about 10 to 15 minutes, fluff; fluff again after another 10 minutes, and serve."
- Put away your suspicious side-eye -- this is a perfectly valid shortcut. "Get a rice maker," urges Dave on the grill, "It'll change your life." HalfPint swears by hers, too.
- Michael -- a voracious rice eater who puts away "one to two pounds of rice a week" -- offers one way around fiddling with cook time and ratios when using brown rice, in response to Inko's question elsewhere on the Hotline about The New Persian Kitchen. "All it requires is some advance planning," says Michael, and a long soak in acidulated water. After thoroughly washing the rice, "I rinse and drain it well, pour a tablespoon or two of raw organic apple cider vinegar over it, cover it with water, then seal the container and place it on top of my refrigerator to keep warm for sixteen to twenty hours...Rinse and drain it thoroughly before cooking to lose the flavor of whatever acid you used. You'll find that not only does this make brown rice cook faster, but it bears much more similarity in texture to white rice," and helps you digest the rice and absorb more of its nutrients.
What are your strategies for perfect rice? Tell us in the comments!