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Saturday, January 14, 2012

How to Cook Rice

Did you know there are more than 40,000 different varieties of rice? We’re not going to cover all of them here, Dollinks, but we will cover the methods for cooking some of them. If you feel that cooking rice is daunting, you’ll find it quite simple if you follow this basic guide. 
Because microwave ovens vary, the microwave cooking times I’ve provided below are approximate. Rice cookers also vary and the instructions I’ve given are also approximate. For greater specificity, see http://www.wikihow.com/Cook-Rice-in-a-Rice-Cooker  I’m a major fan of rice cookers - by far, the simplest way to prepare rice! 
A few quick tips: As a general rule, use ⅓ c. raw (uncooked) rice per serving. If you soak rice up to 30 min. before cooking it, it will be more digestible but its flavor and consistency may suffer. For more flavorful rice, cook it in broth instead of water. Adding a pat of butter or a generous grinding of coarse pepper to cooked rice will also give it a flavor boost. Rice has no cholesterol, no trans-fats, and is low in sodium. Why mess with a good thing? I prefer not to salt the cooking water, but the choice is entirely yours.
On some future day, I’ll talk about specialty rices such as arborio (for making risotto), glutinous “sticky” rice (for making sushi), and short-grain white rice (as used in rice pudding). But not today! 
How to Cook “Instant” White Rice:
This rice is relatively expensive, but quick. Previously cooked and dehydrated, it requires the addition of salt and a pat of butter to give it some flavor. This type of rice should not be rinsed. 
• Measure it! Combine an equal quantity of water and rice. One cup of instant rice yields 2 c. cooked rice.
• Cook it on the stove! In an uncovered pot over medium heat, bring a measured amount of fresh cold water (or broth) to a boil. Stir in rice. Cover pot, remove from heat, and let sit 5 min. or until liquid has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork before serving.
• Cook it in a microwave oven! Combine rice, water, salt, and butter in a microwave-safe dish. Cover and cook 6 min. for 2 servings, 8 min. for 4 servings, and 10 min. for 6 servings. Let stand, covered, 5 min. or until all liquid has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork before serving.
• I would not use a rice cooker or a conventional oven for this type of rice.
How to Cook Parboiled or “Converted” White Rice:
Parboiled or “converted” rice is made by passing steam through the rice while the bran and husk are intact - a process that locks the nutrients into each grain before the rice is polished. More nutritious than regular white rice, the resulting product is easier to digest than brown rice. This type of rice is extra fluffy because the grains don’t clump together. It should not be rinsed.
• Measure it! 1 c. of raw (uncooked) white rice combined with 2-1/4 c. of water (or broth) yields 3-to-4 c. cooked rice for the stove-top method. 
• Cook it on the stove! In an uncovered pot over medium heat, bring a measured amount of fresh, cold water (or broth) just to the boil. Cover the pot and lower the heat. Cook, covered, 15 min. Fluff with a fork before serving. 
• Cook it in a rice cooker! Using the above measurements, dump in the rice and add enough water or broth to cover it by about an inch. Then push the button, Dollinks. Cook 20 min. Once the rice has finished cooking, and with the pot still plugged in, allow the rice to “rest” 10 min. before you remove the lid to serve it. It’s that simple! 
• Cook it in a microwave oven! In a 2 qt. microwave-safe dish, microwave on full power until liquid boils - 4 min. for 2 servings, 6 min. for 4 servings, and 8 min. for 6 servings.. Reduce to 70% power, microwaving a further 15-to-20 min. or until liquid is absorbed. Let stand 5 min. before serving.
• This type of rice is generally not baked in a conventional oven.

How to Cook Long-Grain White Rice:
Long-grain white rice contains a type of starch characterized by long, straight molecules that don’t gelatinize during cooking, resulting in a fluffy product. Some countries enrich white rice to compensate for the nutritional deficiency that results when its hull and bran are removed.
• Measure it! 1 c. of raw (uncooked) white rice combined with 2 c. of water yields 3 c. cooked rice for the stove-top method. 
• Rinse it! Place the rice in a sieve under cold, running water until the water runs clear. 
• Cook it on the stove! In an uncovered pot over medium heat, bring a measured amount of fresh, cold water (or broth) just to the boil. Cover pot and immediately remove from heat. Let stand 20 min. Fluff with a fork before serving. 
Cook it in a rice cooker! Because rice cookers vary, use between 1-¼ c.-to-1-¾ c. water with 1 c. long-grain white rice. Push the button and allow 20 min. cooking time. Once the rice has finished cooking, and with the pot still plugged in, allow the rice to “rest” 10 min. before you remove the lid to serve it.
• Cook it in a microwave oven! Combine 1 c. rice with 1-¾ c. liquid, a dash of salt, and a pat of butter in a 2 qt. microwave-safe dish. Cover and cook 5 min. on full power or until liquid boils. Reduce to 50% power, microwaving a further 15-to-20 min. or until liquid is absorbed. Let stand 5 min. before serving. Fluff with a fork before serving.
• Bake it! Some recipes neglect to tell you this, but always start with boiling liquid! Rice baked on its own tastes best with a dash of salt and a pat of butter. Cover casserole dish tightly, baking at 350 deg. F. 20-to-25 min. 
How to Cook Long-Grain Brown Rice:
With its nutty flavor, chewy texture and a fiber content that’s higher than that of white rice, brown rice is usually a healthier and more flavorful choice than white. 
• Measure it! Long-grain brown rice requires a longer cooking time and more water than long-grain white rice. One cup of raw (uncooked)  brown rice combined with 2-to-3 c. of water yields 2 c. cooked rice for the stove-top method.
• Rinse it! Place the rice in a sieve under cold, running water until the water runs clear.
• Soak it! To plump the grains, some people soak brown rice in cold water several hours before cooking it. I don’t. 
• Drain it! 
• Cook it on the stove! In an uncovered pot over medium heat, bring a measured amount of rice and fresh, cold water (or broth) just to the boil. Cover and reduce heat, simmering 35-to-40 min., or just until rice is tender. Drain off any residual water. Return rice to pot on very low heat, allowing to steam, uncovered, 2-to-3 min. longer, to separate the grains. Add butter or olive oil, if desired. Fluff with a fork before serving. 
• Cook it in a rice cooker! Fill your rice cooker with an equal amount of brown rice and water (or broth) plus ½-to-1 c. extra liquid. Push the button and allow about 40 min. cooking time. Once the rice has finished cooking, and with the pot still plugged in, allow the rice to “rest” 10 min. before you remove the lid to serve it.
• Cook it in a microwave oven! Combine 1 c. rice with 1-¾ c. liquid, a dash of salt, and a pat of butter in a 2 qt. microwave-safe dish. Cover and cook 5 min. on full power or until liquid boils. Reduce to 50% power, microwaving a further 20 min. or until liquid is absorbed. Let stand 5 min. before serving. Fluff with a fork before serving.
• Bake it! Once again, some recipes neglect to tell you this, but always start with boiling liquid! Rice baked on its own tastes best with a dash of salt and a pat of butter. Use 2 c. boiling water (or broth) to 1-½ c. raw (uncooked)  brown rice. Cover casserole dish tightly, baking at 375 deg. F. about 60 min. Remove from oven and uncover. Fluff with a fork and cover with a clean tea towel, letting rice stand 5 min. Remove tea towel and let stand 5 min. longer before serving.
How to Cook Wild Rice:
Wild rice isn’t rice at all. It’s the seed pod from a wild grass that grows on the Canadian prairie and in some lakes in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Often mixed with long-grain white or brown rice, wild rice takes three times as long to cook as white rice and several more minutes to cook than brown rice. To learn more about wild rice, see http://www.care2.com/c2c/groups/disc.html?gpp=48&pst=462464
• Measure it! Wild rice requires a longer cooking time and more water than long-grain brown rice. One cup of raw (uncooked) wild rice combined with 3-½ c. water (or broth) yields 3-½-to-4 c. cooked rice (about 4 servings).
• Rinse it! Hand-harvested rice can contain swamp mud and other impurities. Rinse it in a sieve under cold, running water until the water runs clear. This isn’t really necessary with commercially packaged wild rice, but I do it anyway.
• Soak it! You can soak wild rice overnight in cold water, but the “quick soak” method is often more convenient. Boil 3 times as much water as wild rice by volume. Add rice, parboiling 5 min. Remove from heat. Soak 1 hr. 
• Drain it! Rinse again, and use as recipe directs.
• Cook it on the stove! Rinse 1 c. raw (uncooked) wild rice thoroughly. Add rice to a large saucepan with 3-½ c. lightly salted water or broth. Bring to a boil, stirring to prevent grains from sticking to sides and bottom of pot. Lower heat and simmer, covered, 50-to-60 min. (the shorter cooking time produces a chewier texture). Uncover and simmer 5 min. longer. Drain off excess liquid. Makes 3-to-4 c. cooked wild rice. 
• Cook it in a rice cooker! Rinse rice well. Grease inner pan of rice cooker with non-stick spray to minimize sticking. Add wild rice and stir in water or broth. Push the button and relax for 50 min. When the rice has finished cooking, allow rice to sit 10 min. before serving, plugged in with lid on cooker. 
• Cook it in a microwave oven! Thoroughly rinse 1 c. raw (uncooked) wild rice. Combine with 3 c. cold water (or broth) in a covered 2-qt. microwave-safe casserole. Microwave 5 min. at full power. Microwave a further 30 min. at 50% power. Let stand 10-to-15 min. before draining. Yields 3-to-4 c. cooked wild rice, or 4 servings.
• Bake it! Rinse 1 c. raw (uncooked)  wild rice under cold, running water until water runs clear. Drain and combine with 2 c. boiling water (or broth) in a greased, tightly covered 2-qt. casserole. Season to taste. Bake 45 min. in preheated oven at 375 deg. F. Add more boiling water, if needed, and fluff with a fork. Uncover and bake a further 15 min. until tender. Rice should be slightly moist, but not mushy or wet.
And that, Dollinks, is how to cook rice! Nothing to it!

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