Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Back to the Basics: Cooking Rice

 I've always been a little timid about cooking rice, unless it's mixed in with a recipe.  I was afraid  that I wouldn't cook it enough and it would be hard and cruncy, or that I would cook it too much and it would be sticky.  My fears were laid to rest when I joined the Cooking Club of America a few months ago.  They sent me a book called Cooking Essentials ($11.99) which is full of information about different types of food and how to prepare them.

Here is the fool-proof way to cook rice (serving four people), with a few of my comments along the way.

1.  Using a measuring cup to ensure exact quantities, pour 1 cup of rice into a medium pot.  Measure 2 cups of water in the same measuring cup.  Add the water to the rice, and add 1 teaspoon of salt.

2.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Stir once, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer.

3.  Cover the pot with a lid and cook gently for the times listed below.  Keep covered while it is cooking.

white long grain rice = 12-15 minutes
brown rice = 20-30 minutes
basmati rice = 10-15 minutes

4.  Lift the lid and check to see if the top of the rice is dry.  Tilt the pot to see if all the water has been absorbed.  If not, cook for a little longer.  When all of the water is gone, the rice will be ready.

5.  Remove the pot from heat.  Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.  Fluff the rice with a fork.

This method worked beautifully for me, with one exception.  It said to cook brown rice for 20-30 minutes.  At the end of 30 minutes, the rice was not done.  I had to cook it for about 45 minutes before it was done.  I do not know why.  It turned out very well, though, and I was quite happy that I'd finally mastered cooking rice!  Silly, I know, since it should be a basic skill, but sometimes the easiest of things trip me up.
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  1. I just started buying long grain rice again, after seeing the difference in savings in not buying instant. I boil the water and salt first and then add the rice, cover and turn the heat down to low and simmer. Turns out perfect every time. I was always afraid of cooking it until, I just made myself learn how.

  2. I've found that the five minute "set" time after it's done cooking is the key for me. I also never cook more than one cup of rice in a pan. I have to make two pans to serve our family, but it always comes out just right. :)