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Ways to cook rice

tcamp Dec 26, 2009 02:01 PM

My Japan-born and raised father insisted upon rice prepared in an electric rice cooker. That is what I ate for my first 18 years on earth. Once on my own, I started using a sauce pan to cook rice according to package directions, usually 1 part rice to 1.5 or 2 parts water cooked until all water is absorbed. These two methods for preparing plain steamed rice kept me fairly content for 25 years.

But in the last month I've been introduced to variations. First, the Bittman Pad Thai Rice recipe posted here called for rice cooked like pasta, in copious amounts of salted water which is drained off. Then I bought a bag of jasmine rice that used a 1:1 ratio and cooked for less time overall. Both of these variations tasted very good.

So now I am wondering....are there any guidelines for rice preparation or does anything go?

  1. hobbybaker Dec 26, 2009 04:02 PM

    I used to cook rice in an electric rice cooker, but I now use my 2-qt Le Creuset Dutch Oven for it.

    I use 1.5 cup of rice with a ratio 1:1.2=rice to water for about 8-10 minutes. Until water is boiling (until 2-3 min) with medium heat and then lower heat. Le Creuset is ideal as the lid is so heavy and all the moisture is captured in the pot.

    I really like to cook rice that way as rice is cooked quicker and tastes better than in other (lighter lid) pots.

    1. eight_inch_pestle Dec 26, 2009 05:44 PM

      I followed the Bittman method for many years, but decided awhile back that too much wonderful perfume and flavor goes down the drain with the water when cooking varieties like jasmine and basmati. For jasmine I follow the knuckle method, well described in Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet. For basmati I'll often follow one of the methods described by Claudia Roden in The New Book of Middle Eastern Food---although I can't always bring myself to add as much butter as she wants.

      1. todao Dec 26, 2009 08:17 PM

        I cook rice in dozens of different ways, depending on the type and variety of rice and what I expect to achieve as an end result. Rice cooked in a shallow wide brim pan by adding stock as it is needed is a favorite method of mine, I also cook it in copious amounts of water (like pasta) or in steam. I sometimes fry it before I add stock to finish it or roast it in a moderate oven. But I don't always use the same rice. Depending on the result I'm working to achieve, I may use short grain, medium grain or long grain rice. I don't cook Arboria rice the same way I do Basmati rice, Brown rice or Red rice and I sometimes wash or pre-soak the rice, sometimes not. If you experiment with each variety you will soon get a feel for what you can expect in terms of the cooked finished product and you'll be able to cook it selectively to compliment the type/style of meal you're planning.
        I might suggest starting by purchasing small portions of various rices from the bulk displays at the markets (sometimes having to use Health Food stores to find a wider variety) and working with them.

        3 Replies
        1. re: todao
          z
          zzDan Dec 27, 2009 05:31 AM

          Brown rice is the only rice we cook at home...... OK maybe twice a year white rice. Eating out I'll eat white if there is no brown. I hear hardly anyone in Asia eats brown rice. Just because that's their tradition does not mean I'm going to emulate them.

          Best br rice is to soak it 24 hours or at least 12 then cook
          Ratio is 2-3 parts water to 1 part rice
          Or ye old way of -- Add enough water to the pot to cover the rice by index finger's first joint.
          Because the greater the amount of rice you cook the lower the ratio of water needed

          1. re: zzDan
            v
            Val Dec 27, 2009 05:41 AM

            If eating out and you request brown rice, do they charge extra? A few places here do, just wondering.

            1. re: Val
              z
              zzDan Dec 27, 2009 05:57 AM

              My answer is not very useful.
              In my experience most (70%) charge the same but some charge a little bit more
              It makes sense to charge the same for white as for brown rice so as to eliminate any customer resentment. Of course brown rice is more expensive

              I say this from reading chowhound comments about being charged more at Caplansky and other delis for fatty, lean or medium cuts of pastrami in their sandwich. These extra charges are resented

        2. jfood Dec 27, 2009 05:50 AM

          white rice from jfood

          1975, jfood in a toe to hip cast watching galloping gourmet on tv. He had the best method. Make sure you have MORE water than the recipe requires. follow the directions for the timing of the rice. then when the timer goes off, the rice is done and drain off the excess water. fluff.

          the rice is better trained than some chefs, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

          3 Replies
          1. re: jfood
            todao Dec 27, 2009 08:04 AM

            I most respectfully disagree. To claim that rice can be cooked simply by time would be to assume that all rice is the same; it is not. Some rice is "harder" than others, therefore requires more time. Rice cooked at a simmer will cook slightly differently than rice cooked at a full boil. Rice baked in an oven will cook differently than rice cooked on the stove top. The only way to know if rice is properly cooked is to test it, in a manner similar to the way you might check your pasta for al dente (beans are tested in the same manner) to prevent under or over cooking.

            1. re: todao
              jfood Dec 27, 2009 11:59 AM

              jfood should be clearer. he reads the directions and sets the timer for that length of time once the water boils. And then checks before dumping the excess water.

              the point of his post iwas that people tend to ONLY place the required water in the pot versus exces waterthat can be dumped when the correct doneness is achieved.

              1. re: jfood
                tcamp Dec 28, 2009 05:21 AM

                Your second paragraph...that was my assumption until recently. I never even considered dumping extra water. Live and learn.

          2. alanbarnes Dec 27, 2009 09:07 PM

            Every batch of rice is different. Typically traditional steaming methods use 1:1 (by volume) water to rice for japonica rice and 1.5:1 for indica rice. But I just bought a bag of fresh-harvest jasmine rice that needs a lot closer to a 1:1 ratio.

            Boiling - as for pasta - works too, but you have to keep tasting the rice to know when it's done. Just like with spaghetti, where some noodles are done at 6 minutes and others take 8, rice will be done when it's done. If you're cooking with rice from a different source each time you make the stuff, the Bittman method may be your best bet.

            Long and short, you need to figure out what works for the particular rice you're cooking. If you're buying in 1-pound bags, shoot for an average and adjust on the fly as best you can. But if you're buying 50 pounds at a time, you can fine-tune the cooking method to the rice you have at hand.

            1. rworange Dec 27, 2009 10:46 PM

              I use a 1:3 ratio usually ... depends on the rice.

              i have a different microwave method I learned by accident that is no muss, no fuss

              In my microwave, rice boils over at about 5 minutes. So one day I set it for 4 minutes and forgot about it. About an hour later most of the liquid was absorbed and I gave it another four minutes, let it sit another half hour and the rest of the water absorbed. If I want to serve it warm, I zap it another minute before eating.

              1. f
                fourunder Dec 28, 2009 05:39 AM

                Baking rice in the oven, tightly sealed with a cover or foil, eliminates the possibility of the liquid evaporating too quickly from an improper flame on top of the stove.....or burning the bottom of the pot. Oven baking is a popular method in many commercial kitchens.

                An old Girlfriend used to cook rice in the microwave with much success....although I never had much success myself. If I recall correctly, she did it in two stages....first on half power for a bit, then on full power to finish.

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