The greatest inventions of mankind make life infinitely easier. The wheel, the telegraph, electricity, the Internet, and of course—lest we forget—the rice cooker.
You pour in your grains, add water, close the lid and watch as the chamber steams those little kernels into yummy cooked perfection. Yes, the rice cooker makes things easier, but it’s one dimensional and definitely not a necessity. Veteran chefs know you can produce the same effect with a few simple tips that are sure to optimize the at-home rice cooking experience.
Here’s your ultimate guide for whipping up delicious rice of every variety, whether it’s white, brown, wild, jasmine, sushi or quinoa. They’re all a little different, but master the basic techniques, and you’ll soon be a starch steaming pro.
In order to produce a scrumptious pot of rice, it’s important to know what problems you’re bound to encounter:
The magic combination for perfect rice is surprisingly simple:
Properly rinse the rice by submerging it in cold water for at least 20 minutes prior to cooking. This technique allows the rice to cook faster and yields that fluffy, tender, non-sticky finish you find in a restaurant. Some home chefs skip this step in favor of a quick rinse, but we find it essential—especially in the case of a Carolina, basmati, jasmine or other long-grain rice variety. When you’re ready to cook, drain the liquid, drop the rice into a sauce pan and pour in freshwater. Follow the instructions for the right cups of water water to cup of rice ratio.
Due to its unique consistency and size, brown rice takes longer to cook. For uniformity, short-grain varieties require more water to ensure they won’t burn. This includes sushi rice and other wider, seed-like grains. In the case of quinoa, which is notoriously tiny (yet textured), we recommend a 2:1 water to quinoa ratio when cooking dry, and a 1:1 ratio when cooking pre-soaked. Bring the water to a boil with the rice in it, then lower your burner to a simmer and cover the pot.
If you’re using a quality stockpot with a tight-fitting lid, your rice should be finished anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes for white and 20 to 25 minutes for brown rice. But don’t be so quick to serve.
You should take the pot off the burner, and let the rice rest undisturbed for anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, depending on your preferred doneness. Don’t peek. Just let the hot air distribute itself and cook everything to a uniform finish.
If you want to take it a step further with prep (and speed up the finish), some people recommend taking the rice out of the pot and spreading it on a baking sheet, in a thin layer, as it cools.
Stick with these tips, and you’ll never eat sticky again. But don't worry, if you mess up a batch, rice is a great dog-friendly food! You can share your less than fluffy rice with Fido and he'll still enjoy it.