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Culinary Lesson #22 - Perfectly Cooked Rice

Monday, July 21, 2014

It's often the case that some of the most basic things to cook turn out to be some of the most frustrating things to master.  Just like eggs, mashed potatoes, and even pasta for some, rice often falls into this category as well.  Despite the fact that it is one of the most widely consumed foods on the planet, many of us are still confused with how to properly cook it.  Is there a perfect rice-to-water ratio to use?  Is there an exact amount of time to cook the rice?  Do you stir it at all, or leave it untouched?  And so on...


There are many methods out there (and by all means, if one works for you already there's no need to change), but if you're the type of person who stresses out at the thought of making a pot of rice, this post is for you.  Many people live by the 1:2 ratio (1 part rice to 2 parts water) and hope that by the time the water is all absorbed, the rice has the perfect texture.  But what if it's already overcooked?  You can't really go back.  And if it still has some bite to it, can you add more water and continue the cooking process?

Years ago I came across a cooking philosophy that equated cooking rice with cooking pasta.  That is, to use more water than necessary, and to drain off any excess once the rice/pasta is done.  Brilliant, eh?  After I tested this concept out and produced perfectly cooked (and flavored) rice consistently, I've stuck to it ever since.

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional)
1 cup basmati or jasmine rice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add the water and bay leaves to a medium saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil.
  2. Once boiling, add the salt, butter, and rice.  Stir once and then partially cover the pot.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer for roughly 11 minutes (check after 10 minutes) without any additional stirring.
  4. Once the rice is ready (al dente), drain off any remaining water.
  5. Fluff the rice with a fork and let sit for five minutes before serving.

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