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How do you cook rice?

Just saw another thread asking for help with a particular rice dish, and thought this might be a useful thread (and if there's been one before, do let me know!). After years of making lousy rice, and not trusting my husband's method, it's now the only one I use when making "regular" rice. I pretty much make only white or brown basmati rice, unless I'm making a risotto or paella, or the Iraqi rice dish w/ the saffron crust on the bottom.

My (husband's) foolproof method:

I follow the instructions on the bag of rice in terms of rice to water ratio, put in a small sauce pan with a little oil, bring to a boil, and boil until the water level is down to the level of the rice, such that little holes appear on the surface of the rice. Cover, turn down as low as possible, set the timer for 15 minutes. That's usually the perfect amount of time for white rice, I occasionally need another minute or two for brown rice, after checking.

What's your method?

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  1. Different classes of rice have different amounts of water needed. Japanese is 1:1 while long-grained white or par-boiled are one rice to 1.5 water. I always get perfect rice by: covering, bringing to a boil, immediately turning down to the lowest simmer for 20 minutes, letting it sit for 10 minutes--all without lifting the lid. Finally, take the rice scoop and fluff by scooping deep, lifting, and turning. Guaranteed! I never add oil or salt.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

      This is basically our method too, except we use chicken broth instead of water,,,,no oil or butter. Many people use a rice cooker, but for some reason, I've never been successful with the one I have.

      1. re: Gio

        Gio, right! Now and then for non-Asian dinners I use stock and even some salt instead of water; and I sautee the rice to almost golden first when I make Mexican green rice.

      2. re: Sam Fujisaka

        I didn't realize people found cooking rice so difficult. Now baking bread OTOH baffles me....
        Sam's ratios and methods are almost identical to what Iuse in my Asian (not Japanese) kitchen, learnt from my mother.

        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          That's the method I use as well (though I simmer for 18 minutes...could be location or it could be rice firmness preference accounting for the difference, I suppose). I almost always cook jasmine rice, so use 1.5:1 water:rice.

          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            I have no qualifications, unless you count years of trial and error.

            I do pretty much the same thing as Sam, though it's hard to control the heat on my crappy, hot-plate-type electric stove. I mainly use Thai jasmine rice, rinsed a few times. The necessary proportion of water seems to vary from one package of rice to the next. It's usually about 1.5, but the latest bag requires less.

            Because my stove won't give me a gentle simmer, I often have to lift the pot off the burner momentarily to keep it from boiling over. Good exercise. Maybe I will eventually break down and get a rice cooker, but I really don't have the space, and the rice does turn out very well on the stove!

          2. This sounds like a worthy method!!!! I eventually gave up and bought a good Japanese rice cooker....no problems now. Don't bother with the cheap China versions they break as soon as you use it once or twice.

            2 Replies
            1. re: httpmom

              httpmom, I'm with you. I can make souffles and meringues and all kinds of fancy things but cannot cook rice. Advice from friends of all ethnicities failed to work for me. My life got better when I bought a rice cooker. And if I cook a huge potful of converted aka "golden" rice I can then freeze individual portions in plastic sandwich bags---the grains don't smush together.

              1. re: Querencia

                Parboiled or "converted rice has an amber color. "Golden rice" being developed to have beta-carotene is not yet available.

            2. I always made rice that was just okay. And then my husband told his mother one year that I would like a rice cooker for Hanukkah. Not true, since I never wanted the thing and never mentioned it. And then it sat in the box in the corner of my kitchen for, I kid you not, 2 years. Last year, we moved to a house and I was finally inspired to try the thing. Now I make perfect rice every time in my Zojirushi rice cooker. I (we) actually look forward to rice now.

              1. I actually bake rice! I rinse the uncooked rice first in water several times, saving the starch water for plants. I then place the rice in a glass baking pan and use chicken stock or water, filling the pan filled with rice just to the level of the rice. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 until done, usually about 20-30 minutes depending on how much rice I've used.

                1 Reply
                1. re: scoopG

                  MMRuth: Great question, as it took me years to figure out what i was doing wrong: stiring, peaking, and too high a heat...
                  I have no problems now, except when making huge batches and/or very short grained rice with a 1:1 ratio...then i resort to baking like scoop, as I find it's pretty fool proof and never burnt... Bring rice and liquid to boil on stove, slip on a piece of foil then place in preheated oven.....I always let it sit for about 15 minutes afterwards to steam.

                2. I was taught the "15 rule" absorption method by my Japanese mother. It is dead easy, and even easier remember:

                  - 15% more water than rice by volume
                  - 15 minutes soaking
                  - 15 minutes cooking
                  - 15 minutes resting.

                  Measure out your rice into a small saucepan. Wash the rice, working it with your hands until the water runs clear. Drain your rice well. Then add in 15% more water than you have rice, by volume. Leave to soak for 15 minutes (I usually omit this step though cos I'm impatient and find it unnecessary). Cover the pot and put it on the stove on high heat. A soon as it hits a boil, reduce to minimum heat. Let it cook undisturbed for 15 minutes. Then turn it off, remove from stove and leave it to sit for another 15 minutes. Lift off the lid and you will have perfectly cooked rice. If you have been diligent with your measurements and done it right, the rice will be fluffy and perfectly cooked, and you will have no overcooked rice on the bottom of the pan.

                  As people have pointed out, different rices require different cooking times and water proportions so you have to adjust accordingly. The recipe above is for short grain rice (as eaten by the Japanese), and works for any reasonable meal quantities of cooked rice.

                  1. This is how my mom would do it. She would add the water, rice and oil together. Bring to boil and boil until it nearly was at the top of the rice then cover and simmer. Usually used 1 part rice to 1.5 parts water instead of the one to two ratio. It really doesn't matter if you use more water if you let it boil and reduce to the top of the rice then cover. Always comes out perfect. I fry my rice in the oil first to coat each grain then add the water and salt and follow the rest of the technique in the same way. Never had sticky or gummy rice this way.

                    1. Some are giving their qualifications as to rice cooking. Here's mine:

                      I've eaten rice almost everyday since I was born to full Japanese parents; I've cooked and eaten rice almost every day since I started cooking; I'm a scientist who worked on rice for 15 years in 23 countries; I've cooked rice in 38 different countries. I've cooked 482 different varieties of rice; I've eaten rice in 54 countries; I'm a cook.

                      Sorry to be a jackass, but I stand by my recommendations for cooking.

                      15 Replies
                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        What is your favorite rice?? Or at least top 5?


                        1. re: elkgrovestella

                          1. Neue Sanpatong, a traditional NE Thai sticky rice
                          2. Khao Dok Mali, an improved NE Thai sticky rice
                          3. Any of the finer grades of Japanese rices from California
                          4. Good Basmatis, but milled asap after harvest and drying
                          5. Thai Jasmine, also milled asap after harvest and drying
                          6. Fujisaka 5, a colder tolerant variety bred in Hokaido

                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                            Glad we have an expert! Here's a question. What is the main difference between Basmati and Jasmine rice in terms of how it should be cooked, taste, texture, etc. Because, to be honest, I find them very similar and often substitute one for the other. Thanks!

                            1. re: mielimato

                              Yeah, well sorry for the tirade. Basmati and Jasmine are quite similar. They are both sets of aromatic, Indica varieties. They are cooked pretty much the same. The aroma of the cooked rices differ, with the aroma of each strongest when the rices are dried, milled and cooked quickly after harvest.

                            2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                              Ok, sorry to be a pain in the butt, LOL, but could you possibly give the names of the finer grades of Japanese rices from california? I really like rice, esp. japanese rice, and I do live in cali. Anytime I go to the local Japanese market here and look at the rice available, I'm at a loss as to what's great, good, or so-so. 20 or so years ago when my mom and I went to Japan to visit family for 3 weeks she thought I might actually finally get 'burned out' on rice since I'd be eating it every day--yeah right, like that happened. Since then she's deceided I was Japanese in another life.

                              1. re: elkgrovestella

                                I REALLY don't know anymore. Used to be that CalRose was commonplace, maybe Koda Bros was in the middle, and Nishiki was better. I have the problem here that I can't get any California rice and would welcome any grade! Cailifornia Japanese rice costs $5.00/lb here.

                                1. re: elkgrovestella

                                  We are fortunate to live a few miles from an excellent Japanese market...they carry a lot of different koshihikari style rices and my favorite is a brand name Tamaki. I have included a photo. I would love to know the reason California grows so many types of rices...but I haven't a clue. They sell about 20-25 different types of rice at this particular market. I buy the Tamaki brand when it's on sale because it is kind of dear. It seems to be perfect for sushi...and it has a really nice taste and texture...but I am far from expert.

                                  1. re: httpmom

                                    I'm not sure, but would guess that only a very few varieties are grown in California, with a lot of essentially the same rices coming in different packaging.

                                2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                  I understand you know a thing or two about rice.
                                  How do you tell when a rice has been milled? Just curious? Also, can you buy Fujisaka 5 outside of Japan? Also..why are the CA Japanese types so tasty...I personally love them...is it the climate or the variety or what exactly?

                                  1. re: httpmom

                                    "Milled" just means the husks have been removed and the bran polished away. One of the rice breeders at the International Rice Research Institute where we worked gave me some Fujisaka 5 many years ago. It comes from the Fujisaka experimental station in Hokaido and has nothing to do with me. Just interesting because Fujisaka is a rare Japanese surname. Don't know if it is commercially available. The two main classes of rice are Indica (long grained) and Japonica (short and stickier). Most Japonicas are similar in taste--and I simply prefer Japonicas over Indicas.

                                  2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                    Wow Sam! you really know your rice, but I agree with you, my Thai aunt
                                    cooks her Jasmine rice the same way. Cooking and eating good rice was one of the first things she taught us clueless Americans when she first came to the states. She was also appalled that Americans throw rice at weddings.

                                    1. re: kpaumer

                                      Funny, never thought of that! Throwing rice should bother Asians!

                                3. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                  I really didn't mean this to be some sort of competition about how to make rice or whose method is better, but rather just a discussion of "what works" for different posters. I don't think anyone was challenging your recommendation. Mine works for me and I now use it regardless of what a recipe says to do (I've actually had to delay dinner on occasion to make a second batch when I've done otherwise). I have no "qualifications" - though my husband sells rice, that doesn't really have anything to do with his ability, or mine, to make it. The method we use is how he learned to make it in the Dominican Republic.

                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                      Oh Sam - not you. Everyone has their own methods for doing just about everything. You know that. You give us so much wonderfully useful information......Don't be so down on yourself!

                                  1. One of the problems with using ratios is that the more rice you cook the lower the water to rice ratio.

                                    One approach is to use the "Mt. Fuji method": Rinse the rice, put it in the pot (I use a rice cooker unless I want a crust on the bottom), put your clean hand palm down on the rice and add water until the water reaches the knuckles on the back of your hand.

                                    *Minor* variations:
                                    * The longer grains need a *little* more water, but not much.
                                    * Soaked rice uses less.
                                    * Brown rice needs more -- unless you pressure cook it, then the Mt. Fuji method is perfect.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Richard 16

                                      Yes, that was the way I was taught, too (for short-grain rice). But it depends on how big your hand is, and child hands are much smaller. About 3/4" is what I was told, measure with your fingertip.

                                      Sam's instructions in reply #1 is the same was I do it, except that I stir on high heat until most of the excess water is absorbed, then reduce to simmer and let sit for 20 mins. Putting in the oven at 300F instead of simmer works, too. Perfect rice everytime. I never felt the need to buy a rice cooker.

                                      Note - soaking the rice a couple hours prior to cooking helps, too.

                                    2. Pressure cooker, twice as much water as rice. Up to pressure, 10 minutes at high pressure, natural pressure release.

                                      1. I could never imagine having to pay attention to cooking time, heat levels, boiling points, steaming points ever EVER again. Rice:Water ratio is the only thing I care about now when making rice. Rice cookers are wonderful. Measure the ratios, then hit a button labeled "cook." Make your meal. You do not have to even THINK about the rice, and it will be perfect every time. Like it more chewy? add less water. Like it softer? add more water. That's all.

                                        1. For many years now, I have used the microwave to make perfect rice every time. Prior to this , I struggled with the stovetop and consistency of the rice.
                                          You can find a specialty microwave rice container at the Asian grocery stores (About $5) It has a special venting lid on top
                                          However , I believe any microwave safe bowl would suffice , allowing for venting.
                                          1 cup rice (Rinsed)
                                          2 cups water
                                          Nothing else
                                          Microwave on med- high for 20 minutes
                                          Let sit about 5 mins
                                          Fluff, Serve Love Basmati.... Perfect everytime!

                                          1. I rinse the rice till the water is clear. Then I use a rice cooker and measure the water by putting my finger on the surface of the rice and letting the water go up to the first knuckle of my finger. It works every time despite what size hand you have.

                                            1. We have a cheapo cheapo rice cooker- I think we bought it at Kroger for $12... For regular long grained rice, we have to use more water: 1.5:1 ratio. But for Jasmine rice, the machine cooks it perfectly at a 1:1 ratio. It has always seemed strange to me that the type of white rice would make so much difference, but it really seems to...

                                              1. I make rice frequently enough that I use a rice cooker. But I always throw a couple of pieces of kombu in it while it cooks. Besides adding some minerals, it adds some umami to the rice.

                                                1. We have a Zojirushi fuzzy logic rice cooker. I spent a lot of time researching it and gave it to the boyfriend for Christmas- he absolutely loves it. We use it for everything from breakfast and dinner rice to sushi rice. Our favourites are the California short grained rices that we find at our local Japanese shops. I suppose it's pretty lazy, but love not having to think about rice while it's cooking at 6 in the morning.

                                                  1. You can also scatter the rice in ample salted boiling water like pasta, cook till tender, drain and put back in the covered pot to steam to complete cooking.

                                                    The post-absorption steaming-while-resting part is key to finishing cooking, regardless of method.

                                                    1. Probably not exactly what you are looking for, but whenever I cook rice now, I always finely chop a (preferably) red onion, a couple garlic cloves, and one or two jalapeno peppers and saute them in olive oil. Then I'll pour in the water and boil that before adding the rice. I find it just a much more flavorful dish.

                                                      1. MMR/Sam - what's your view on rinsing/soaking the rice?

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: greedygirl

                                                          I only soak rice when I'm making that Iraqi dish to which I referred - the name of which I always forget. The wife of an Iraqi friend of mine taught me to make it, and the instructions are to rinse the rice, then soak it for a couple of hours, then cook it briefly using the "pasta" method, then you put it in pot (with the saffron/oil - sometimes yogurt) mix on the bottom and bake in the oven. We don't eat rice that often, and I don't know anything about the science, so to speak, behind rinsing/soaking. The only other rice that I rinsed was was Amber rice sent to me from Iraq, and again, I was told to rinse it.

                                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                                            We always used to wash our rice. The talc protecting the grain (from storage pests) used to (50s - 60s) have some asbestos included, resulting in the Japanese having the highest rates of stomach cancer at the time. Since then, I rinse a bit, but not as much as in the past (there now being no asbestos danger). Also used to soak for an hour, but don't anymore: generally can't see a difference.

                                                          2. I don't measure anything going into the pot...just scoop some rice into a pot, rinse a couple of times, then add enough water to come up to the first knuckle of my index finger when the tip is resting on top of the rice. Cook over high heat until it starts to smell like toasted rice...reduce the heat to low, cover, and let cook for another 15 minutes. Then turn the heat off and let rest for at least 5 minutes. Waiting until it smells a little toasty will produce PERFECT koge....which typifies the perfect pot of rice. So sayeth ricepad.

                                                            (Of course, I think I'd eat ANY rice prepared by Sam Fujisaka....)