Did you know in Kenya, rice is the third staple food after maize and wheat? This means rice is the grain that fuels the world. Cooking perfect rice is a pretty important skill that’s learnt over time. Everyone I know has burnt rice at least once or ended up cooking clumpy, sticky or glutinous rice. As you continue cooking, you learn different types of rice are cooked using different methods, the importance of water to rice ratio and different methods of cooking. The results will leave you with the perfect rice.
Previously, we learnt of the different varieties of rice, i.e. long grain rice, medium grain rice and short grain rice which comes in many different types i.e. Pishori, Basmati, Brown Rice, Wild Rice, Sushi rice etc. It’s knowledgeable to note that each variety of rice has its own method of cooking thus giving different results.
Preparation of Rice before Cooking
The first thing you consider when cooking rice, it’s the state the rice is in. Most rice companies clean the rice from impurities like stones and mud balls or chaffs and husks even insect’s contamination before supplying it in the market. Still in other instances, mostly when you purchase local rice, you’ll find out that some impurities got into the rice and that needs clearing before cooking. There are different methods of filtering out impurities.
For example, manually picking the impurities especially stones or tiny rice balls. For the impurities like chaffs or husks, you de chaff the rice by winnowing which means separating the chaffs from the rice grains by fanning. This is done by blowing current of air through the rice grains, by either flipping the rice on a large flat tray or pouring the rice from a distance and the wind helps remove the chaff.
Wash the rice in a bowl with plenty of water, stir it thoroughly, use a small bowl to scoop the rice a little at a time, the stones should settle at the bottom of the bowl, and later dispose of them. Use the parboil method, then wash thoroughly, stir and remove stones which could be at the bottom of the pot.
After cleansing the rice from impurities, then its ready for cooking. The next move is cleaning the rice by rinsing it in water. The reason behind rinsing the rice is to remove excess starch especially from short grained rice; and remove pesticides, chemicals or impurities which happen to be left in the packed rice especially the ones bought in sacks.
How to wash Rice
Use a transparent, wide and deep bowl to clean, the transparency helps you spot any dirt that rice may contain. There is a special utensil called rice colander which has small holes to drain cold water without letting the rice grains escape. Use thrice amount of cold water compared to the rice been rinsed so that it can clean properly. With the rice fully immersed in cold water, stir the rice with clean hands, apply light pressure when scrubbing it against your palms to avoid breaking the rice grains. Tilt the bowl to pour out dirty water. Then pour the cold water through your hands so you can catch any rice grains that slid out.
Rinse and repeat, punch and turn few more times depending on the level of uncleanliness it might have. Do not always throw away the opaque, milky, white water after rinsing, if it’s not dirty, save it for it’s used in sauces. Finally soak the rice if desired.
This gives the moisture on rice time to soak into the center of the grain ensuring it got an even texture once cooked. Also, it reduces the cooking time. For the aromatic rice they retain their aroma because of the shorter cooking period. Further, soaking makes rice grains less brittle and prone to breakage and it helps the rice expand to its maximum length.
In the case of forfeited rice, don’t over rinse because you may lose their vitamins and minerals. Also, if you want your rice dish to be sticky, you should avoid thorough rinsing it. After cleaning rice and ensuring it’s in healthy state. Then it’s automatically ready for cooking.
Simple Guidelines for Cooking Rice
There are two main methods of cooking rice. The boiling method or the absorption method. The boiling method is whereby you first boil the water before pouring the rice and the absorption method is whereby the rice is cooked in a measured amount of water so that by the time the rice is cooked, all the water has been absorbed, the steam finishes the cooking.
To cook that fluffy, tender and delicious rice it’s not necessarily you own a rice cooker, a saucepan with a good lid can do just fine.
Step by Step Procedure
Boil water and add salt. You can also add butter or oil if you wish. The water to rice ratio is very important. The more accurate you are, the better results you will get. The water to rice ratio depend on the type of rice you are cooking.
Long grain rice and brown rice, you should use 2 to 1 water to rice ratio and for short grain use 1 and one half to 2cups of water for 1 cup of rice. Bring the amount of water to a boil in a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. If your lid fits loosely, put a clean kitchen cloth between the lid and the pot. You can add an optional pinch of salt if you wish.
Pour the 1 cup of rice to the boiling water, stir it briefly with a wooden spoon to break up crumps of rice. Do not over stir, this may split the grain and make the rice to be sticky.
Cover the pot with the lid, and make sure the lid fits tightly on the pot. Turn down the heat to its very lowest setting. Remember if the temperature is too high, the bottom of the pan of rice can scorch while the rice at the top is still undercooked.
Set a timer for 15 minutes if it’s a long grain rice i.e. Pishori, for the medium and short grain rice 13 to 15 minutes would be the best and for the brown rice, 45minutes are most appropriate. Avoid lifting the lid unnecessarily because of the steam escaping the covered pot while it cooks.
After the given time runs out, turn off the burner and remove the pan from heat. Allow the rice to sit off the heat and stay covered for an additional 5 minutes as the steam finishes its work of redistributing itself for more uniform texture throughout the rice. This makes the bottom rice as fluffy as the top. The brown rice should be covered for 10minutes before serving.
When the 5 minutes elapses, lightly fluff the rice with a fork to separate the rice grains. You can serve the rice immediately or put the rid back on to keep it warm while you wait to serve it later.
Basically, those are the simple steps you need to know when cooking rice. If you follow them diligently then you will have yourself to thank for enjoying a delicious finger licking rice dish.
Let’s keep it reading, because sharing is caring. “Bon Appetit!”