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May 17, 2008 04:13 PM

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 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.