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Problems cooking rice dishes

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Umm...I'm almost embarassed to ask this question, but I think I'm among friends. When I make rice dishes that call for cooking the rice with meat or seafood with vegetables (and liquid, of course) in a frying pan on a burner, it always seems to take a much longer time for the rice to get done than the recipe calls for. I'm not talking 10 minutes longer--it's more like 20 or so. This despite the fact that I have a good fry pan with a nice fitting lid and all. The same thing happens in my Dutch oven. I talking about classic recipes like Chicken with Rice or Paella or such. The rice is the usual long grain or sometimes basmati. If the dish is cooked or finished in the oven--no problem. Stove is electric, normal coil burners.

Any thoughts about what I'm doing wrong? My reputation as an advanced foodie is suffering here.

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post #2 of 17
easy fix.. use instant rice....hehehe, but i always found that with a electric burner it always took alot longer, sorry this isnt any help
post #3 of 17
Once the rice is simmering on low heat it should take about 18 - 20 minutes for it to cook properly. Is the heat too low perhaps? The liquid to rice ratio should be about 2:1 (2 parts liquid to 1 part rice.)

Jock
post #4 of 17
I make lots of risotto dishes, and also just boil rice, but have never timed it, ever. So I don;t know what to tell you about the cooking time. I just taste till it tastes done. However i do know that rice gets drier with time and takes longer. If there is a difference when you cook in water or with other ingredients, i would be very curious to know why. The professionals might be able to answer this one. My uneducated guess is that possibly the pre-cooking in oil or butter you do when you make risotto prevents rapid absorption of water???
From the practical point of view, i don;t see what difference it makes, since you really need to taste it to find out if it's cooked the way you like it.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #5 of 17
I would suggest that you pre-soak the rice prior to cooking. Do not use high heat when cooking the rice. That should help.

If you are able to get a rice cooker, that would be excellent. I have some Asian rice dishes recipe in my website. Check it out :)
Visit my site on home-cooked Asian recipes!

http://deliciousasianfood.com
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Visit my site on home-cooked Asian recipes!

http://deliciousasianfood.com
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post #6 of 17
Jon-
Of course you are among friends......
I have had better results with cooking the rice and meats, veggies separately and then plate them together. That way you get nice fluffy rice and meats/veg that aren't overcooked. Other than instant rice (atomic's post), - I know, sacreligeous- but hey, it works......
Bon Vive' !
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Bon Vive' !
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post #7 of 17
I think that if you cook them separately and then mix you get a very different result than if you cook them together. If you cook together, your rice acquires some flavors that it doesn't acquire if you mix later. It absorbs the liquids in the vegetables, fish, or tomato or broth or wine or whatever, and the flavor is more homogeneous. Mixing afterwards is more a Polka-dot effect, dots of flavor in a bland background, which is not worse, just a very different dish. In a risotto you definately do NOT want fluffy separate grains of rice but you want a creamy rice sauce (the starches of the rice making the liquid it's cooked in become creamy, like adding flour to a gravy).
Anyway, what's the difference if it takes longer or shorter, just keep adding liquid till it's cooked.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #8 of 17
First of all, basmati definitely benefits from presoaking for about 30 minutes before cooking; and long-grain can use a rinse to remove surface starch (not mandatory, but I find it makes the finished rice less gummy). Of course, if you're making risotto, you want that starch, but that's not what you're talking about.

But one key to the problem is the burner versus oven issue. When you cook the dish on top of the stove, the heat penetrates the food from one direction only. So especially when the dish has other ingredients, it just plain takes longer for the rice to cook, since it's not getting the heat it needs. In the oven, the heat penetrates from all around and makes for more even cooking. That's how rice cookers work, btw, by surrounding the food with heat.

The other key is that the recipe could be wrong. :o Or at least that it has not been written -- and tested -- for different cooking methods. I know this may sound like heresy, but believe me, many recipes are printed (and especially posted on the Internet) without proper testing. Sigh. If from experience you know that it will take longer, trust yourself and your experience.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #9 of 17
I'm so notoriously rice-impaired, I'll be watching this thread. My rice always comes out like mortar. :rolleyes:
Food is sex for the stomach.
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Food is sex for the stomach.
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post #10 of 17
Jon, same with me. I make these types of dishes all the time (I'm Cuban, everything revolves around rice:lol: ) I just figure 35-40 min automaticly now.

Tony
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 

Rice

Thank you all for your suggestions and comments. Let me respond to a few.

Though I'm the cook, my wife is the baker. She will not allow instant rice to pass our entry way (instant brown rice is a reluctant, though rare, exception), a consideration if I want to continue eating baked goods. Anyway, I pretty much agree with her.

I realize that it's done when it's done, but like so many things things in this life, cooking is about timing and making things come out with some apprearance of simultaneity.

I use standard rice cooking techniques and timings (I learned it from Pierre Franey's books), and they work quite fine--when I'm cooking rice or a simple pilaf. It's these dishes where you want to have everything simmering together that have caused problems, and it happens too consistently to be a poorly-tested recipe (another hat worn in my ill-spent youth was as a recipe recipe tester, before moving on). I will see if higher heat helps or retreat to the oven.

I had not heard about pre-soaking basmati (though that's not the source of my problem), but I will try it. When we have plain white rice as a side dish, basmati is our first choice.

Thanks again, everyone.
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 

Jambalaya--rice in the oven

Just a follow-up to my last note: we made a jambalaya tonight with sausage, shrimp, and catfish, using peppers, onions, garlic and okra rescued from the garden (it's turning cold here) and canned tomatoes with chili peppers (our garden tomatoes have--alas--expired). I started it on the stove, but put it in the oven (400 degrees F, 20 minutes), and the rice turned out just fine. This is the sort of thing I would often have trouble with on the stovetop.
post #13 of 17
Give me a hug Chiffonade! I used to be able to make rice. I don't know what happened. Now it seeems like it won't cook so half is hard and the other half is mushy. I think it's a conspiracy to make us look bad. It used to be jello I couldn't make, although I've mastered that now. I'm so relieved to know I'm not the only rice klutz!
post #14 of 17
Siduri-
Risotto is a whole different category of rice (I love risotto, by the way, esp cheesey risotto)!!

Rice (plain) is such a basic cooking item- I have been taught to rinse rice (5X is best) and simmer it in 1 1/2 X as much water as rice, SALT water (should taste like ocean), and a little oil or butter. Simmer about 20 minutes. I was always told to not disturb the rice while it cooks, but I always give it a stir or two during the process. I prefer jasmine rice to basmati, but both cook fluffy and delicious. Does everyone do the same? I have always thought rice was easy to cook (just don't have heat too high). Perhaps those that have had so much trouble are doing something different...... ???? Did this help anyone?
Bon Vive' !
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Bon Vive' !
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post #15 of 17
Try double-boiling rice instead. Place rice with warm water (1 cm above rice level) in a metal cup / pot and place the cup / pot into a bigger pot. The bigger pot should have water-level up to half the inner cup / pot. Bring the water in the bigger pot to boil and cover the bigger pot with lid. Double-boil till rice is cooked. It will be fluffy when done. Try it.
Visit my site on home-cooked Asian recipes!

http://deliciousasianfood.com
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Visit my site on home-cooked Asian recipes!

http://deliciousasianfood.com
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post #16 of 17
Erm, i find risotto is best cooked at 1:1 ratio (only because it going to be recooked/finished in a pan). However, when i cook long grain rice, i run water over it (and agitate it) until the water runs clear.

An especially good guide is the "water over the rice to the first joint on your finger" trick. Basically, run water in the pot (after washing) to a point where it meets your first joint on your index finger. Then either steam it/boil it in a pot.

Just remember to fluff the rice occaisionally.
"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
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"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
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post #17 of 17
Does anyone cook plain rice the italian way (not risotto, i mean just plain rice you put a sauce or butter on top of after it's cooked or add to broth or soup)? It's so easy, no big deal if you're not there right on the dot to take it out, it can;t burn. Just cook it like you would pasta - boil the water, salt it, put the rice in (one fistful per person if you're going to put it in soup, two per person if it's a course in itself - that;s the home cook's guide here - rice is never a side dish here but i guess one fistful would be good for that). Boil it till it tastes right. Then drain immediately. No measuring, no hovering, no problem that if the rice is older and more dry it needs more water. It's not suitable for oriental dishes, it leaves a separate grain, not sticky, but often that's just what's desired.
"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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