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Thursday, December 12, 2013

How to Make Fluffy Rice

Perfect fluffy basmati rice! (The method is the same for all types of white rice)

With all the crazy French and international dishes that've passed through our kitchen, the one thing I never could get right was rice. It was either burned, mushy or uncooked. How could something so simple be so difficult? Frustrated, we turned to instant rice. And it's ok, but the pieces can be a bit small and it just doesn't feel very "ricey". And what if you don't want plain rice? What if you want Basmati or Jasmine? Or what if you want a delicious rice pilaf like in a restaurant? Tough luck!

After traveling a couple of times to Japan, we fell in love with rice and got a rice cooker. But like all fads, the fascination wanes. And here I was stuck with either having to leave this big appliance on the counter or find somewhere to store it and then drag it out every time I wanted rice. (This is how hoarding begins!)

Somebody call a professional organizer!

This is where our friend Ellie came in like a superhero. And we don't mean with a cape and tights (though she does look like a runway model so if anybody could rock them it would definitely be her!) She's a great cook and would host amazing parties. One time she had rice. Perfect, al dente rice. We were convinced it was an ancient Persian secret, but she shared it with us!

She explained basically that people tend to approach rice as if it's pasta. They try to "boil" it. That's not how rice works. You bring it to a simmer and let it absorb the steam. It takes about 20 minutes on the heat. Then you need to let it sit, tightly covered, for another 20 minutes. It's that last part that's the secret!

That's it? Yes, that's basically it. And ever since she taught us this, our rice has been perfect every single time.

  • Rice (of your choice)
  • Water (amount listed on package) *
  1. Look at the chart of your package of rice to determine the appropriate amount of rice and water. (Generally, it's one part rice and two parts water but it will vary from brand and type of rice so always follow the chart.)
  2. Bring the water to a rolling boil. (For plain rice, never add oil or fat. For other varieties, never add more than 1 tbsp oil or fat per cup of rice, it will coat the rice which will result in it absorbing less steam so it won't cook properly.)
    Hot boiling water, ready for the rice!
  3. Pour in the rice, tightly cover and reduce heat to the lowest setting.
    We happened to know there was exactly 1 cup of rice in the bag so we poured it right into the amount of boiling water called for on the chart.
  4. Even our special "simmer" burner is too hot on low to steam rice, so we stole an idea from a colleague's Grandmother when she has the same problem with her Bolognese Sauce.
    Fold some foil into a long tube then curl the tube around the burner to lift the pot up about an inch.
  5. Leave on the lowest setting for 20 minutes. Do not lift the lid, do not peek. Leave it alone!
  6. Turn off the heat, and let sit for another 20 minutes. Again, no peeking! You'll let out the heat and steam and your rice will be jacked.
    After cooking 20 mins then letting rest with lid on the entire time
  7. Remove the lid, Using a fork, gently fluff the rice.
    Fluffy that stuff and serve it!
And now you know! You can get rid of the instant rice and that extra appliance. But don't thank us, thank Ellie! :) She's the one who showed us the light.

* Variations: In this post, we're just making plain rice. The varieties for sprucing it up are endless. Here are just a few suggestions (amounts below are per 1 cup uncooked rice, so alter based on how much rice you're cooking):
  • Traditional American: Sweat 1 tbsp minced onion in 1 tbsp butter, replace the water with low-sodium chicken broth.
  • French: Same as Traditional American, but add 1 pinch of dried saffron and 1 tbsp white wine
  • Exotic: Sweat 1/3 cup minded onion in 1 tbsp butter, add 2 tbsp raisins, 1/4 cup sliced almonds, and replace the water with low-sodium chicken broth.
What do you like to add to your rice? Post below and let us know.

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