Sunday, September 12, 2004

Recipe: Perfect Rice . . .

Plain White Rice

Nothing could be simpler than cooking plain white rice from scratch. It takes 30 minutes.

Please throw away your Uncle Ben's, your Minute Rice, your Rice A Roni, and all other such stuff. Buy your local supermarket's store brand in 1, 2, or 5 pound bags (if you use more rice than that, what are you reading this for? Go to your local Asian purveyor, haul home a 50 Lb. bag and enjoy!) Long grain, medium grain, and short grain all cook to the same basic instructions. The variations are due more to the weather the rice was grown in, harvested in, how long its been stored, and the humidity when you cook it rather than the length of the grain.

here's what you'll need . . .

Here's how you do it.

The secret is simple. Always use twice as much water as rice, and simply add the quantities to determine how much you'll end up with. 1 cup rice + 2 cups water = 3 cups cooked rice (just the right amount for a couple of rice lovers like Cathy and me - with some left over for tomorrow).

rice rocket science

Use a thick walled, heavy pan with a tight fitting lid (we use one of those enameled cast iron saucepans that you can get at a local discount store for about $5. I’ve had this one for 30 years.) Put the water in the pan, cover it and put it over high heat - no salt, no butter, no nothin'! Just the water. (If you want to get fancy, we'll talk about variations later . . .) Bring the water to a screaming boil. Toss in the rice, turn the heat to low, and cover the pan.

DO NOT UNCOVER THE PAN until you serve the rice.

rice done

Cook the rice over low heat for 20 minutes; then turn the heat off and let the pan sit on the burner for another 10 minutes (more is OK but less is not). Your rice is now done to perfection. Serve and enjoy.

rice ready to eat

If you like rice, buy as much as you can store conveniently. Each harvest is slightly different in the amount of natural moisture retained in the grain. You may find that one batch cooks best with a few tablespoons more or less water, or with a few minutes more or less time on the heat. The first batch you cook will seldom (if ever) be awful; but your second batch will almost always be better. If you have several more batches from the same bag of rice, you won't have to 'fine tune' as often.

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