It’s one of the most commonly consumed foods in the world. It’s also seemingly one of the simplest to make. So how is it that we are still perplexed over how to make a perfect pot of rice?
Sure, you can purchase a rice cooker, but that will run you from $30 to $200. And unless you’re cooking rice every day, it could just become another cumbersome appliance.
Cooking basic, fluffy white rice, where each grain is separate and slightly firm, is possible if you know a few pro tips.
Step 1: Rinse or soak your rice
Rinsing rice in cold water helps for two reasons. Some rice mills outside of the U.S. may coat the grains in glucose or talc, so this step is extra important for imported rice. Although safe to eat, the coating could cause your rice to become downright gluey if not properly rinsed. Rinsing will also remove excess starch, so the final product will be airy and less sticky.
Soaking will probably only be necessary when preparing older rice. A 30 minute soak will make the little rice grains softer and less prone to breakage. Basmati rice usually needs some soaking time, as well, as it helps the individual grains of rice expand to intended length. In both cases, drain rice thoroughly. Failing to do so will cause you to have more water than intended in your pot when cooking and can throw off the texture.
Step 2: The Cooking Method
The simplest method for cooking rice is the absorption method. The rice is cooked in a pre-measured amount of water — just enough so that the rice is able to absorb all of the water and is finished cooking with the help of steam. Use a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, so the steam stays trapped.
Figuring out the amount of water is extremely important. Use 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups of water per 1 cup of long-grain white rice. Brown rices require more water, and short rices require a little less. Only trial and error will help you gauge exactly how much water you need to get the rice to your preferred texture. Keep in mind that the more water you use, the softer and stickier your rice will become. This is great for stir-fries or sushi, while less water will give you firmer, distinctive rice, more fitting for rice mixes and dishes.
Step 3: Let it Steam
Cook rice for about 12-15 minutes. This will be enough time for the grains to absorb the rice and cook al dente. However, the rice will have cooked unevenly from bottom to top, so this next part is key: Let the rice rest for at least 5 minutes (or for as long as a half hour) so the moisture redistributes throughout the pot. This will result in more uniformly cooked grains of rice.
No water will be left in the pot, so no need to drain. Just scoop, serve and eat up!