How To Cook Perfect Rice
For many people cooking rice is a big problem and often goes wrong. But the truth is that cooking perfect rice is very simple, all you need to do is follow a few basic rules and your rice can be as crisp, fluffy & light as you get in the best Indian restaurant.
So cooking rice couldn't be easier right ? You just get some rice in some water and boil it for a few minutes until it is soft and then you drain it and serve it.. Wrong !
We have all dreamed of getting our rice light and fluffy, not stuck together and perfectly cooked just like the rice you get in the Indian, well I will let you into a secret. That perfect pilau rice was cooked a few hours or even a day before you ordered it. That's right if you want to get your rice to that standard you are going to need to pre cook it and dry it out.
So lets take a little look at the science behind cooking rice. Rice is full of starch (Just like flour) and that starch is what makes your rice stick together. So obviously, we need to get all of the starch out of it if we want to get this rice crisp and light. And that brings us to the first issue, how to get the starch out.
This is where opinion is a little divided, some folks say you should run your rice under cold water before you cook it in order to remove the starch, and there are many people that say this works fine for them. However, I always prefer to do this after the rice is cooked, and I do this for two reasons. The first reason is that once the rice is cooked and softer it will release more starch than when it is raw. And the second reason is that I ALWAYS cool my rice off after cooking.
You need to leave the rice run under cold water so that all of the starch is removed. Remember to stir it with a fork a few times during this process.
When it comes to cooking the rice , you need to be a bit careful that you don't over cook it. Get yourself a pan of salted water on the heat then add the rice so that it half fills the volume of water in the pan, get this boiling. As a rule I found that the rice takes around 10 minutes on boil to cook but you will need to check it through the process. You do this with a fork, take out a small quantinty of rice and tasting it. It should be just cooked and slightly crispy.
If you are feeling a little adventurous why not do what I do and add a pinch of Turmeric to the water, this will give your rice a lovely yellow colour. You can even add a few Cardoman Seeds and a few cloves to give your rice some flavour.
If you have managed to do tis without burning your lips then you need to get the pan straight off the heat and into a sink, run the cold tap slowly into the pan so that the rice cools down and the starch is released. As the water runs you will see the starch coming out of the rice and the water will slowly clear. Get your fork and mix up the rice in the pan to release more starch (The water will go cloudy again) let it run until clear and repeat the process 3 or 4 times.
Drain the rice into a colander or a sieve , place on top of the pan and leave to dry out. The drying out will take a while, upto a few hours so get on with something else while the rice is drying. You will need to turn the rice with a for every 20 - 30 minutes to help it dry. Don't be tempted to rush this as the rice needs to dry fully before you can use it.
As the rice dries out , you need to mix it up with a fork a few times.
I like to make this rice the day before I am going to use it so that it has ample time to dry out and rest. I keep it in the fridge once it is fully dry, it will keep for a few days.
So we have covered the main steps to getting your rice perfectly cooked and the rest is up to you. You can stirfry this rice in a wok with egg and vegetables or you could just as easily pop it in the microwave for two minutes with a knob of butter.
The key points :
- Boil rice for 10 minutes until just cooked.
- Cool down under running cold water to release the starch.
- Allow to dry off in a sieve or colander for a few hours.
- Once fully dry re-heat in a microwave or stirfry in a wok.
This rice will be perfect every time.