Which sauce pan to use for cooking rice? Shallow/wide or taller/more narrow?
Yet another question from me (still with sauce pans on my mind)....which is more effective for cooking rice and quinoa: shallow/wide surface pan (like the Calphalon Tri-Ply 2.5 qt. shallow sauce pan) or taller/more narrow (like the Cuisinart MCP 2 qt sauce pan)? Thank you!
I'm not sure there's a correct answer to this, but I like a taller pan for cooking plain rice. All you're doing at a basic level is moistening and heating the grains enough to gelate and soften the starch granules.
For more elaborate rice dishes, e.g., pilaf, paella, risotto, polo , I like a shallower/wider pan, but for different reasons.
Indian and Iranian cuisines tend boil rice in an excess of water, which is poured off; this tends to keep the grains intact and distinct. Chinese and Japanese cuisines favor using just enough water, yielding clumpy rice that is easier to eat with chopsticks. But with enough volume and the right water/rice ratio, I think either of your pans will work about the same.
Rice is a complicated matter, as there really are a very wide range of rices, and also several general methods to cook them, each of which is done best in different vessels.
Regarding basmati rice, to cook it in the persian style, the best is an aluminum pot coated in teflon (to allow for good tahdeeg production) with a glass lid that has a tiny hole allowing a little steam to escape. This pot will also work well for other basmati rice dishes, such as mixed rices from various cultural recipes.
Regarding medium and shorter-grain asian style rice (Jasmine white, brown, red; short Japanese varieties like white, haiga, brown, sweet), modern fuzzy logic rice cookers (e.g. Zojirushi, Cuckoo, etc) are your best bet. They make amazing white, brown, Gaba-brown, sushi, sweet, porridge, .... you get the picture.
Personally, I lack the skill and would not attempt to cook rice in a pan lined in stainless, ceramic, bare iron, tin, etc, unless it's a particularly wet recipe like a Paella (which is best in a paella pan).
So assuming your pans are non-stick, there's no wrong answer. I would choose a short wide pan in order to maximize the amount of tahdeeg. My wife would choose a taller more narrow pan in order to provide significant height, because she like the fluffiness of the "middle-rice" that only a taller pot can produce.
I'm eager to read what the other more accomplished cooks here have written.
I like taller, narrow for most rice, mostly because that's what I've always used. I don't see any reason, though, that either of those pans would present a problem.
Regarding the comment by Alarash about not using a stainless saucepan, I (and millions of other cooks) do it every week, and it's no big deal. It doesn't stick and clean-up's a breeze.
I like a heavy pan with a heavy lid when cooking rice. For me, it’s best for measurements if the heavy lid fits into the pot and so seals, rather than having a more flimsy lid lightly resting on top of the pot and blubbering away as it boils and steams. My two favourite rice pots are a cast aluminum one picked up at the Salvation Army years ago, and a smaller Le Creuset enamelled cast iron pot. Both are somewhat squat and neither shallow nor tall. Having a couple of different sizes is useful unless you make the same quantity all the time. And as others have pointed out, specialized styles of rice making can benefit from more specifically tailored pots or pans.