Friday, March 19, 2010

a quick note about rice

I've never believed people when they said that rice could be cooked like pasta, but I'm here to let you know that I've tried it AND... it works. This stemmed not in my desire to run a cooking experiment at 6pm with four hungry kids waiting, but rather that the direction of my meal changed upon cooking. I had intended to cook pasta for dinner, so I filled up the pot and let it sit on the back burner on low for a while during kitchen brainstorming. Suddenly I found myself sauteeing cauliflower and paneer with garam masala, simmering lentils in a Trader Joes' punjab spinach sauce, and realizing that pasta didn't really belong in this meal. So I took a deep breath and threw two tablespoons of kosher salt and two cups of jasmine rice into the 5-quart of boiling water, gave it a stir, put a loose lid on that sucker, and went onto other kitchen tasks.

You see, I have a fear of rice cookery. The word fear might be a bit of an exaggeration, but coming from Italian roots, pasta was generally the starch of choice growing up. It wasn't that we never had it, but just much less frequently. I can remember as an adolescent being scolded by my aunt for lifting the lid to the cooking rice. "Don't! It will clump! It will stick!" I was amazed, first of all for being scolded about such a stupid thing, but that cooking rice could be quite so finicky. After all, people who live in huts cook this stuff over open fires. Now, I realize that some rice cooks best under specific conditions. However, I'm glad to find out, and you should be too, that you can relax a little when it comes to cooking rice.
Drop it in a stockpot of boiling water, stir a couple of times during the 20-25 minutes, then drain in a fine sieve. What you will be left with is fluffy soft separate grains, of perfect consistency.

In addition, the extra liquid allows for more wiggle room in flavoring your rice. If you're going the Asian route, throw in a stalk of lemongrass and a chunk of ginger; Moroccan tangine? add a cinnamon stick and a star anise to the pot. When not every molecule of the water is being absorbed, the flavoring will be more consistently distributed around each grain of rice, compared to a clump of ginger sitting right along side of a specific grain.

A note: I wouldn't try this method with sticky sushi rice. Leave that to your rice cooker, or a pot with a tightly fitting lid. Otherwise, basmati or jasmine will do just fine.

5 comments:

MamaTina said...

I've seen the extra water method before. Does it still take 15-20 minutes to cook?

Jeff Potter said...

I guess I am a little confused -- is the rice uncovered?

zegliano said...

yes, for the most part it was uncovered.

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