Saturday, October 24, 2009

Perfect Steamed Rice

Maybe it's just me, but why is rice such a tricky thing to make? I've had to change the way I make rice depending on where I live (California, Germany, North Carolina), and Utah has been no exception. When we moved here in 2002, not only did all of my cookies turn out like frisbees (more on that adventure someday), but my rice was never right. It was overcooked or undercooked, no matter what I tried--more water, less water, more time, less time. I turned to the internet, and kept finding instructions that included rinsing and soaking the rice before cooking it. Nooooooo! Please don't make me rinse and soak my rice! I finally gave in, and my rice has been perfect since.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I only soak white rice (long grain, basmati, etc.). I didn't have the same problems with brown rice, and found that soaking it didn't change my results in any discernible way. I do rinse the brown rice, though, to get rid of any "floaties".

Oh, and I have to take issue with the whole 1 part rice/2 parts water deal. I don't think that ratio has ever worked for me, regardless of where I've lived. You may have to experiment to get the perfect ratio for where you live, but please do experiment. Don't settle for soggy rice. For me here in Utah, the perfect rice-to-water ratio is 1 part rice/1 1/4 parts water (brown rice is 1 part rice/1 1/3 parts water).

Perfect Steamed Rice
Printable Recipe

1 cup long grain white rice
1 1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon olive or canola oil

1. Measure the rice into a medium pot. Add enough water to cover the rice by an inch, gently swish the rice and water, and pour off the water. Repeat 4 or 5 times, or until the water is almost clear (picture on the right).

2. Add enough water to cover the rice by an inch and let it soak for 20 minutes.

3. Drain the rice well (I use a fine metal sieve). Add the water, salt, and oil to the pot. Bring it to a boil over high heat, cover the pot, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 20 minutes--don't lift the lid. For anything.

4. After 20 minutes the rice should look like this. If there is any water still left in the bottom of the pot, taste a few grains of rice. If the rice is done, leave the lid off and simmer off the rest of the water. If the rice isn't quite done yet, replace the lid and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the grains are tender.

I've found the best tools for fluffing steamed rice are chopsticks. They fluff and separate the rice without making it clump onto the fork or spoon, and they don't break the delicate grains (especially important with very long-grained basmati rice).

1 cup dry rice makes about 2 cups cooked rice.

I almost always make more rice than we need for dinner so I can freeze the extra for later. I measure it out in 1/2 cup measurements (1/2 cup rice = 2 WW points) in zip-top bags, and then freeze the bags. Once frozen, 30 seconds or so on High heat in the microwave and you're in business :) Having frozen rice ready to go can make quick lunches or dinners that much easier.

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