Cooking rice can be intimidating to new cooks. This is a shame, because knowing how to handily whip up a pot of rice will add exponentially to your cooking repertoire. Once you feel comfortable with it, the world of grains is at your disposal. And remember, humans were making rice long before there were measuring cups and timers. Cooks all over the planet have grown up making rice differently, and because there are thousands of rice varietals, ratios differ. The most reliable ratio is 1½ to 2 cups of liquid for every cup of raw rice. This recipe should calm any rice anxiety you may have and teach you how to consider the purpose of simmering. A pot of unadorned rice is delicious on its own, but you can flavor it as well. My kids love brown rice with a dollop of Pesto swirled in at serving time. Or stir in a generous pat of butter and a tablespoon of minced parsley or cilantro. Store cooled leftover rice in an airtight container in the refrigerator for three to five days. You can use leftovers to make Fried Rice.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 2 CUPS LONG- OR MEDIUM-GRAIN WHITE RICE
- 3 CUPS WATER
- FINE SEA SALT
- Measure the rice Grains roughly double their volume from dried to cooked, so work backward based on the amount you plan to serve. Figure roughly ½ to 1 cup cooked grains (¼ to ½ cup dried) per person, depending on the dish. SOAK AND RINSE
- Rinse or soak the rice if you wish. Soaking rice for 20 to 30 minutes in advance of cooking cuts down on stove time, and some argue that it offers a plumper grain. It’s certainly not mandatory, but if you do soak, make sure to cook in fresh water. If you want the rice to have some stickiness, don’t rinse the grains, but if you want the individual grains to be more separate, then do. To rinse, place the rice in a fine-mesh strainer. Rinse thoroughly under running water while rubbing the grains and moving them around in the strainer until the water runs clear, about 2 minutes. BOIL, THEN SIMMER
- Pour the rice and water into a medium pot. Bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid so the rice steams as it simmers. Rice cooks by absorbing the liquid in which it’s simmering. The catch is that the ratio of grain to liquid must be proportional so that there’s just enough liquid to cook the rice—and none left over. Because white rice no longer has the bran, or outer covering, it doesn’t require as much liquid to cook. Covering the rice allows it to steam as it simmers, plumping the grains as they slowly absorb the liquid. It also prevents the liquid from evaporating too quickly and scorching the rice. TASTE
- After about 15 minutes, observe and taste. Taste a grain to gauge its tenderness: if it’s still toothsome, cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the bite. The grains should look uniformly plump. Tasting rice is the best way to test for doneness; however, you can also determine if it is cooked through by breaking a grain in half. If the middle is slightly chalky and opaque, cook for a few more minutes. For the most accurate timing guidelines, refer to the packaging—but always defer to your powers of observation and taste. REST, FLUFF, SEASON, AND SERVE
- When the rice is done, remove the pot from the heat. Let the rice rest, covered, so it steams for another 5 to 10 minutes. Steaming the rice off the heat for a few minutes will make for a more evenly cooked pot.
- Fluff with a fork to air out the grains. If the rice is still a bit too moist, leave it uncovered for 10 minutes so the moisture can evaporate. Fluffing with a fork airs out the rice and helps separate the grains.
- Season, and serve as desired. Add salt or herbs, such as chopped parsley or cilantro.