For most of us, rice is a staple not only in our diet, but also in our cooking repertoire. Cooking rice is a rather straight-forward process of placing the desired amount of rice in a pot of boiling water and allowing the rice to simmer until all the water is absorbed, leaving fluffy grains of rice.
Sounds simple enough, right? As anyone who’s ever faced down a pile of lumpy, clumpy mound of rice stuck to the bottom of a pot can attest, cooking rice perfectly every time is harder than it seems.
Before you even think about adding rice to your boiling water, though, make sure to rinse the rice in cold water. This will remove added starch from the grains that can make your rice clump together once cooked.
Next, keep in mind the type of rice you’re preparing. Long-grain rice will need slightly more water than short-grain rice. A general rule of thumb is 1 1/2 - 2 cups of water for every cup of rice you plan to cook. Bring the water to a boil and add the rice. Cover the pot with a lid that fits snugly (allowing the rice to steam within the pot) and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Again, longer-grain rice will need to cook longer than shorter-grain varieties.
To keep the grains from sticking together while cooking, add a tablespoon of butter or olive oil to the pot. To add a little extra flavor to the rice, consider adding an infused olive oil, or garlic or tomato butter. A pinch of sea salt added after the water has reached the boiling point will also add flavor to the cooked rice.
If you’re the type that likes to keep your eye on things, make sure to choose a glass lid. If you are constantly removing the lid to check on your rice, you will allow the steam to escape, resulting in your rice not cooking properly.
After the allotted time, check the rice’s consistency by fluffing it with a fork. If all seems well and the water has been absorbed, let the rice rest for five minutes. This will allow the remaining water to be absorbed and the texture to become uniform throughout.
If at this point, your rice is not perfectly cooked, there is still time to save it. The two most common problems at this stage is either too much or too little water. If there is too much water left or the rice seems a little soggy, just rain some of the water and return the pot to the stove. Cook the rice over low heat for about five minutes. If the rice is still not cooked all the way through, but there is no water left, then add a little bit of water and continue to cook under low heat until the rice is fully cooked.
An alternative method is to use a double boiler to cook your rice. Begin with the bottom part of the double boiler with salted water. Once the water reaches the boiling point, add your rice. Bring the rice to boiling and continue cooking for five minutes. After five minutes, move the rice to the top of the double boiler and remove all but one inch of boiling water in the bottom. Cover and steam the rice for 10 minutes for long-grain and about seven minutes for basmati and other shorter-grain types of rice.
Congratulations. Your perfect rice is now ready to be plated and served.