How to cook rice

Learning how to cook rice so that you end up with perfectly fluffy, separate grains is not as difficult as you might first think. Let me show you how its done, but first we will look at the types of rice available. 

Types of rice

Rice comes in different colours and lengths as the samples in the photograph above show. 

The most common variety is perhaps long grain white rice, which has had the husk and bran removed before being polished. Depending on where it is grown it can be sold under several names...

  • Patna (India)
  • Basmati (the Himalayas)
  • Carolina (America)
  • Jasmine (Thailand) 

You can also buy Easy Cook or Minute Rice, which in my opinion is rather bland, and also more expensive. 

White rice is also available in both medium (Arborio) and short grain varieties which are suitable for risottos, paella and rice puddings. 

Next is the most nutritious - brown rice. This does take longer to cook than white rice (about twice as long) but it has a lovely nutty flavour. It is also ideal for grinding into brown rice flour, a staple in many gluten free pantries. 

Lastly, we have black rice, also sometimes know as purple, as it turns that colour when cooked. It is an excellent source of iron. In China it is used to make black rice cake or bread.

Wild rice is not actually a type of rice, but a grain. However, I will include it in this list as it is used for the same purpose. It is often available in a mixed bag with basmati. It is illustrated in the photo below. 

Long grain and wild rice mix in bowl

How to cook white rice - long grain

Let's look at two ways of how to cook rice in this section.  For both you want to measure out around 2 oz or 60 grams per person, and twice that amount of water. 

Open pan method of cooking rice

  1. Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a rolling boil, then tip in the measured rice. 
  2. Stir once, then turn down the heat to a simmer. Continue cooking, without covering the pan, until tender. This will take about 10 minutes.
  3. Drain the rice in a colander or sieve. Pour boiling water over it to wash off the extra starch. This will help to keep the grains separate.
  4. Cover the colander with a cloth or towel for a few minutes while it drains. The rice should dry nice and fluffy. 
  5. Serve. 

ONLY STIR ONCE: If you continue to stir you will break the grains and release the starch, resulting in sticky rice rather than it being fluffy.

Absorption method

  1. Measure carefully for this method! Pour the rice into a jug and note the volume. Tip it into your empty saucepan along with exactly twice the volume of cold water, and a teaspoon of salt. 
  2. Bring to the boil, then cover tightly and lower the heat. Keep on a low simmer for 15-20 minutes for normal long grain or 10 minutes for basmati. 
  3. Remove from the heat and leave the lid on the pan for another 10 minutes. 
  4. Fluff up gently with a fork. Serve. 

Cooking brown rice

Ensure you wash brown rice carefully before cooking, to remove the debris. You water will likely end up cloudy after the first wash, so continue until it runs clear.

  1. Measure the required amount of rice, remembering that it will double in volume when cooked.
  2. Tip into your pan with twice the amount of water as per the instructions for the absorption method above. 
  3. Place a lid on the pan and bring it to the boil. 
  4. Turn down the heat to a slow simmer, and leaving the lid on the pan cook for a further 45 minutes. 
  5. Test by taking off the lid to check if any water remains. If all the water has been absorbed the rice should be ready to serve. 

Alternatives to rice

Rice is high in carbohydrates and low in protein. If you are looking for something more nutritious you might like to consider quinoa, or millet. 

Or you could even make cauliflower rice!


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