The Foolproof Way To Cook Rice




Yes, the title is correct: cooking rice. What is fascinating about rice is that there are so may varieties, over 7,000 in fact. I was weaned on the traditional long grain variety. But there's Arborio (short grain, used in Italian cooking); Basmati (Indian); Jasmine (South Asian); wild rice (which is not a true rice but a water grass; brown rice (unprocessed), round grain; ad infinitum. And there are as many ways to make a basic rice dish as there are cooks on the planet.



Still, some people have difficulty making perfect steamed rice. And I don't mean the starchy Chinese or Japanese type which is held together in clumps so that it's easier for the chopsticks. I'm talking about perfectly cooked grains that (as my Uncle Phillip used to say) you can count individually. So for all you folks out there who have always had this problem (and there many of you out there), I have three tried-and-true methods which will get you as good a result as you can get. All you gotta do is experiment.



All three recipes are from my cookbook, Puerto Rican Cuisine in America (Avalon Books).

Recipe I (My mother's method):

1 cup rice

2 cups water

2 teaspoons salt


3 tablespoons olive oil

1. Wash rice at least three times in cold water and drain to rid of starch. What in Pennsylvania Dutch country is known as "washing in several waters."

2. In a heavy kettle or pot, heat water and add the salt.


3. When water is at a roiling boil, add rice. Stir and bring to a second boil.


4. Let it cook, uncovered, at high heat until water is absorbed (about 5-8 minutes).


5. Add olive oil. Stir and simmer, covered, on low heat for 10 minutes more or until tender.


Yield: 2 servings for big eaters; 3 servings for light waters


Recipe II (My Aunt Fanny's method)

2 cups rice


3 tablespoons olive oil


Water to cover rice


Salt to taste

1. Wash rice and drain to rid of starch.


2. Heat olive oil in a heavy kettle or pot. Add rice and stir until grains are opaque.


3. Add water to cover rice by 1/4 to 1/2 inch. Add salt to taste.


4. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer, on low heat, until water is absorbed (about 20 minutes).


Yield: 4 servings for big eaters; 6 servings for light eaters.




Recipe III (My Cousin Yvonne's method):

2 cups rice


4 cups water


2 teaspoons salt


3 tablespoons olive oil

1. Wash rice and drain to rid of starch.


2. Bring water and salt to a roiling boil.


3. Add rice plus olive oil. Stir and bring to a second boil. Cover and simmer on low heat until water is absorbed (20-30 minutes).


4. Uncover and continue cooking for 5 minutes more.


Yield: 4 servings for big eaters; 6 servings for light eaters.

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