Rice is a staple food in many households worldwide, especially in Asia. Apart from being one of the easiest meals to cook, it has a high nutritional value. Additionally, there is a lot you can do with rice to make an interesting meal. You can be creative with rice to make delicious meals from the comfort of your home.
Most people don’t like the final outcome after trying to cook rice, however, learning how to cook rice is very simple. It is a culinary art that everyone should master. In this article, we will look at how to cook rice, the basics, and how you can play around with some ingredients to spice up your rice.
Fun Facts about Rice
- Rice is by far the most consumed staple food in the world.
- Rice provides one-fifth of all the calories consumed by humans worldwide.
- Rice is the third most-produced agricultural commodity after sugarcane and maize.
- Rice is usually categorized into three groups: short grain, medium grain, and long grain.
- Rice porridge is a traditional meal given to the sick in some parts of the world.
- Some people combine rice with milk, honey, and sugar to make desserts.
Different Varieties of Rice and How to Cook Them
If you want to master how to cook rice, it is important that you know how to differentiate the three varieties of rice. In most cases, short-grained rice is used to make rice pudding. Rice pudding is made when rice is mixed with milk or water and other preferential ingredients such as raisins or cinnamon.
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Medium-grain rice is widely used to make a variety of rice dishes. It is high in amylopectin and tends to be stickier than the long-grain varieties. It is usually used to make sweet rice dishes and other foods such as the famous Italian risotto and the Spanish arròsnegre.
If you want to cook sushi, always go with the stickier variety of medium-grain rice. Its ability to stick enables it to maintain its shape after molding. The Japanese widely use the medium-grain rice to prepare their meals including serving it separately as an accompaniment to savory dishes.
The long-grain rice variety is high in amylose and usually remains intact after cooking. Some variants of long-grain rice such as the Thai sticky rice contain amylopectin too and can be eaten after steaming.
How to Cook Rice: Basic Steps and Tips
Washing the Rice Properly
There are several ways you can cook your rice depending on the outcome you want. Most people wash their rice before cooking while others skip this part. If you have been wondering whether to wash your rice before cooking, then we have some information that will help you decide.
The reason we wash rice before cooking it to remove excess starch. However, if you cook rice that is produced in the United States, then it is advisable that you skip the washing part because the rice is normally fortified with minerals and vitamins, and washing it results in the loss of these nutrients.
Those who have no problem washing their rice sometimes do so until the water goes clear. This improves the taste and texture of your rice. You can also soak the rice before cooking. There are several reasons behind this: to reduce stickiness, to conserve fuel energy, to reduce cooking time, and to reduce the time you expose the rice to high temperatures. During soaking, the rice absorbs water and expands in size, thus improving the texture. The soaking time is also something you can adjust accordingly – from 30 minutes to some hours.
While cooking brown rice, you can soak it in warm water for around 20 hours. This activates germination in a process referred to as germinated brown rice. Researchers at the United Nations experimented with this and found that the process improves the nutrients found in brown rice including gamma-aminobutyric acid which regulates muscle tone in humans.
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How to Cook Rice
You can either boil rice or steam it. Rice absorbs water during boiling, therefore, the volume of water should not be less than the volume of rice. You should also add extra water to cover any losses that will occur through evaporation. Rapid-boil is another method: you boil rice in a lot of water until it is well-cooked, then drain the water and serve. However, this method should be avoided when cooking fortified rice because you will lose the nutrients that had been added when you drain the water.
You can also fry your rice in oil quickly before boiling it when cooking meals such as risotto or saffron rice. Frying your rice before boiling reduces stickiness. This is a common cooking technique, especially in Asia. In Iran and Afghanistan, they call it pilaf, while in India and Pakistan they call it biryani.
Electric Rice Cookers
Advancement in technology has seen inventors make an electric rice cooker to simplify the whole process. Although many people can afford one of these machines, the majority of people still opt to learn how to cook rice the conventional way. They prefer their meals to have a personal touch, thus they do it themselves.
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Tips and Tricks to Make the Rice Cooking Process Easier
Things You Will Need:
- Saucepan with a tight-fitting lid
- Measuring cup
- Wooden spoon
Steps to Follow when Cookin Rice
1. Boil Water and Add Salt
Place the saucepan on your source of heat. Add water; if you are cooking one cup of rice, boil two cups of water. After the water has boiled, add one teaspoon of salt and stir.
2. Add Rice
Add rice into the boiling water.
Using the wooden stick, stir once or several times until the rice separates. However, be careful not to be overzealous with this process. Stirring too much can cause stickiness.
4. Cover the Saucepan and Simmer
After stirring to separate the rice, cover the saucepan with the tight-fitting lid mentioned earlier. Turn down the heat to the lowest possible degree and let it simmer for around 18 minutes. Remove from the source of heat and let the rice steam in the saucepan for about 5 minutes.
Before serving your rice, fluff it gently using a fork. This helps to separate the grains. Enjoy your rice with your preferred accompaniment.
Tips and Tricks on How to Cook Rice Easily
It is important to note that you should not uncover the saucepan or stir the rice while it is cooking. Additionally, if the rice is done and you are not ready to serve yet, replace the lid with a clean, folded kitchen towel. Set it aside until you are ready to serve. The towel helps to absorb excess moisture and condensation ensuring you do not end up with an overcooked and mushy meal.
Some people add butter to enhance the flavor of their rice. Others add vinegar to make sure the rice grains separate well and to give the rice a better appearance. You cannot taste the vinegar in rice but some people can smell it. So do not get carried away with vinegar; a half teaspoon of white vinegar is enough for one cup of rice.
Add a Little Flavor to Your Rice
Now that we have learned how to cook rice – basic white rice – we will discuss ways of adding a little flavor to it. Continuously eating plain white rice can be boring. Here are some ways you can be creative with rice to end up with an exciting meal:
One way you can add flavor to your rice is by adding stock. You can either use powdered stock or liquid stock. If you choose to go with powdered stock, use it in place of salt. If you choose liquid stock, use it in place of water. If you prefer a light stock, you can mix it with water to make up the two cups of liquid for one cup of uncooked rice.
Spices offer you endless options for flavoring your rice. You can play with several spices to come up with a great rice meal. Turmeric powder is not only healthy but gives the rice a vibrant orange color.
Coconut is a perfect addition to almost every meal. People living in the tropics have been cooking with coconut for ages. You can add desiccated or shredded coconut as a side bite or you can substitute some water with coconut milk to cook your rice.
Add Garlic or Onion Powder
Add 1/4 teaspoon of garlic or onion powder together with the salt to achieve a deep and warm flavor.
You can add herbs after cooking rice to maintain their flavors and delicate color, or you can add them to the water at the beginning. We love rosemary and thyme.
Cook Rice Properly and Enjoy the Taste!
Considering that rice is a staple food worldwide, we should all learn how to cook it well. You can cook it plain and simple, or you can experiment with different ingredients to spice things up. Now that you know how to cook rice, try cooking some rice today and enjoy a delicious, affordable, healthy meal.