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Jul 15, 2009 11:35 PM

What size pot to use when cooking rice? (Demeyere)

I haven't cooked rice in about 5 years, so I am unsure what size sauce pan I should use.

Firstly what is a 'standard' serving of rice? 1/3 cup uncooked rice? (my husband and I aren't big rice eaters and our cooking tends to be rice as a side dish and more vegetables)

In the near future I'll be cooking rice for mostly 2, sometime 4, and occasionally 6 people. So is there a simple formula to follow when choosing a pot to cook 1 cup, 2 cups or 3 cups of rice? When is a pot too big or too small for the job?

I am planning on buying some cookware from the Demeyere Atlantis line and I am wondering if there is an advantage to cooking rice in the conical sauteuse
(which is a clad design) or if a heavy bottomed sauce pan will yield good results?

Hope to get this sorted so I can start cooking my own rice and not having to buy the mushy rice from the restaurant downstairs.

Cheers :-)

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  1. I would buy a rice cooker and use that. Usually comes out foolproof. Try brown basmati rice for a delicious experience.

    1. The size of the pot depends on how much rice you're cooking and what method you're using. If you're steaming rice on the stovetop, you probably want to go deep rather than wide (that is, saucepan rather than saute pan), in order to reduce the amount of rice that comes into contact with the bottom of the pot. To make regular white rice for 2 to 3 people, I boil slightly less than 2 cups of water in a 2-quart Le Creuset oven, add a cup of unwashed raw rice, reduce the heat to a very low flame, and steam for 17 minutes. Works fine (and the cast iron pot keeps the cooked rice warm for a long time). Other types of rice require slightly different proportions of rice to water, but as long as I'm using 1 to 1-1/2 cups of rice, I use the 2-quart pot. When making rice for a crowd, I prefer to reduce the guesswork by cooking it in a large pot of boiling water and draining it when it's done (like pasta). For either of these methods, I see no advantage to a clad pot over a heavy-bottomed one. Of course, the most foolproof pot of all is an electric rice cooker!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Miss Priss

        I'm by no means a rice expert but I've found that at least for me a wider pot is better, this way all the grains sit in roughly the same amount of water. I think if a pan is too deep the grains at the bottom of the pan are more likely to be soggy than the ones at the top and a wider pan makes everything more shallow and even in this regard.

        The most important thing I have noticed though is a tight fitting lid and a good temperature response so you can keep the steam in and then go from boiling to low heat quickly to avoid over doing it. Old Le Creuset pots with the open spouts are no good at all for rice!

        Oh and to the op, I have found regular flat bottomed pans better than sauteuses, probably for similar reasons.

      2. 3/4 cup of uncooked rice works out to two servings, which happens to be the size of the little cup they give you with a rice cooker. If I'd known this before buying the rice cooker, I'd have likely bought the one that makes rice for 12 instead of for 20. The extra capacity has come in handy... but I digress.

        For a pan to cook rice, go with a medium size saucepan. There isn't really any formula for pan size, but I'd avoid something squat and wide just because more water can evaporate that way. A 2-quart saucepan should take care of a group of 6 just fine. Good rule of thumb- add dry rice to the pan, and then cover with water so your thumb is submerged to the first knuckle when just touching the rice.

        If you find you're cooking rice on a very regular basis, you might want to look into getting a rice cooker. It simplifies the process to 1) add X cups of rice to the cooker per 2 guests, 2) add water to the level of X marked on the side of the pot (add more if you're cooking long-grain, the lines are calibrated for Japanese short-grain rice), 3) Close the lid and push Start. It beeps at you when it's done. Just give the rice a fluff when it beeps and it will keep in the rice cooker for hours. The basic model from Target will do just fine, but there's some gee-whiz bells and whistles at the high-end, mostly involving giving the rice cooker an electronic brain that can fine-tune the cooking process so that the rice comes out dead-on perfect. It also tacks on a pretty penny. I went with a top-end model from Zojirushi, and am pretty sure that if the kitchen appliances stage a coup d'├ętat, the rice cooker is going to lead the revolution. But hey, when I can throw in some rice and water before I leave for work, tell it I want the rice done at 7:42 PM, and the rice gets done at EXACTLY 7:42:00, I'm willing to take the risk. The advantage of the fuzzy logic ones is that it has a variety of settings for things such as brown rice or rice porridge, and said settings can be used to cook a variety of other things (oatmeal and polenta come out incredible). The advantage of the cheapie models is that you can use a great many of them as a steamer, even steaming food while you're cooking rice.

        1. I cook rice in my 100+ year old rice pot that came from Japan with my grandparents and that belonged to my great grandparents. I think such real rice pots are still sold in Japanese stores. For Japanese rice (and we've been doing this for centuries) 1:1 rice to water, bring to a boil, simmer on the lowest for 20 minutes, let sit for 10 (do all this with pot covered), then fluff and serve. Long grain rice is similar, but use 1.5 rice to 1.0 water. Perfect every time.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            Sounds like the perfect tool for the job; what's it made from and what shape and size it?

            1. re: pass

              Made from some unidentifiable pot metal. They have a rounded steam ring around the pot rim where the lid sits down a bit recessed. Escaping rice steam can't splatter anywhere. The lid is slightly domed.

            2. re: Sam Fujisaka

              This is exactly my rice cooking method as well.

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                That's pretty much my method, except to measure how much water I need, I touch the surface of the rice with my finger tip and add water to the first knuckle. Whether in a clay pot or my cheap aluminum pots, the rice has come out perfect every time.

              2. snax, We make rice about 300 nights per year, and we also have several pieces of Demeyere cookware, both disk-bottom, and the 5-layer conical sauteuse.

                To address your specific question about cooking rice, cathodetube is absolutely right. There is no way that you can make good rice as consistently in a pot atop the stove as you can consistently make rice in a rice cooker; certainly, you cannot maintain rice at a serving temperature on a cooktop without it drying out or burning on the bottom as consistently as you can keep the rice warm in a rice cooker. This is NOT to say that you cannot make excellent rice atop a range; you can. But proper rice preparation requires repeated adjustments in the temperature as the cooking cycle progresses, and thus requires a lot of hands-on attention. And sometimes, while the rice is cooking, the telephone rings. With a rice cooker, you never lose a batch of rice to an unexpected telephone call from your relatives in the Old Country.

                For the maximum amount of rice you will be cooking at one time -- that is, for six people -- a so-called "five-and-a-half cup" rice cooker will be more than adequate. Any major brand rice cooker that has "fuzzy logic" or better ("better" = induction heating, pressure, etc.) will make excellent rice. For historical reasons (at the time we purchased it, it was the first fuzzy logic rice cooker available in North America), we happen to have the predecessor of this model: but if we were purchasing today, we might well get a Zojirushi instead. By "historic," I mean that we have had our current rice cooker over 15 years, maybe 20 years or more ... we purchased it either in the late 1980s or early 1990s, and, despite using it almost every night, it has never given us a moment of trouble, so there never has been any reason to consider replacing it. It continues to make superb rice, night after night after night. A similar rice cooker would cost you less to purchase than a Demeyere Atlantis saucepan, and it will not occupy one of your cooktop burners that you need for preparing the remainder of your dinner.

                Returning to your impending Demeyere purchase, did you know that, except for the handle, the 5-layer pieces in the Atlantis line are identical to the 5-layer pieces in the considerably lower-priced Apollo line? The disk-bottom Atlantis, with a layer of silver-coated copper, differs from the disk-bottom Apollo, which has an aluminum disk, so there is a greater justification for the premium price of the Atlantis there. But, if you are buying your Demeyere not as a set but by the piece, a good way to save some money without losing a whit of functionality is to get the Atlantis line for disk-bottom pots and the Apollo line for the sauteuses.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Politeness

                  I still stand by my family's centuries of experience; you turn the rice down just after it comes to a boil to the lowest setting and let simmer for 20 minutes. No adjusting - ever. Perfect every time.

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    Sam_F: " family's centuries of experience..."
                    <g> Judging by your surname, I suspect that if we go back just a very few generations your family and ours probably share a few ancestors. (After all, we have two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, etc., and Yamato is not all that large a place.)

                    An amazing fact is that the electric rice cooker is only 53 years old: Toshiba introduced the first commercially successful rice cooker in 1956. We were teenagers then, and when we cooked rice, we used the "centuries of experience" method. It was not until 30 years or so later that we purchased our current electric rice cooker. We are not proud: it makes better-tasting rice, every night, than we, with seven or eight decades of experience between us, ever used to make on our best nights. As I wrote above, "this is NOT to say that you cannot make excellent rice atop a range; you can." But, solely on the basis of taste, convenience aside, our rice cooker was an upgrade.

                    What the rangetop method lacks most, however, is the convenience. We do not have to watch our pot until it boils, so that we will know when to turn it down. We do not have to watch our clock after we turn the clock down to count the 20 minutes. If we are not ready for supper right when the 20 minutes are ended, the rice cooker keeps the rice warm and fluffy until we are ready for it -- and even if something comes up and we are delayed for hours, the kept-warm rice will not be scorched at the bottom of the pot, as it will be ready when our dinner guests want a second helping an hour after the cooking cycle has finished.

                    1. re: Politeness

                      What is Nihongo for, "I'm a Luddite"? Actually, I (think I) can taste a difference between my pot and a rice cooker for Japanese rice, the pot rice being bettter.

                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        I'm not Japanese, but I agree with Sam. My cajun palate thinks that pot cooked rice tastes better than rice cooker rice. And I sure never fiddled with a pot of rice besides turning the heat down after the initial boil...20 minutes later, I turn it off, let it sit for a bit, and it's perfect.

                        1. re: Hungry Celeste

                          I agree with Sam. I cook rice the way my Grandmother taught me.

                          I use a 2 qt pot. Put the rice in the pot and rinse it (I no longer clean the rice). Add water a knuckle over the rice level. Boil down most of the water, cover, reduce and wait 20 minutes, fluff and serve.

                          Usually there is a crust on the bottom of the pan but I like the crunch of the crust. It's like the polenta crust that Lydia Bastianich loves. My husband thinks my rice is too dry so sometimes I make it more moist for him by not boiling off as much water.

                          I don't like the taste and texture of the rice cooker rice as much but I can see using it for the convenience.