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Weekly Alibi New Moves with Rice

How to Do It Right Every Time

By David Jacobs

MARCH 20, 2000:  Has your gummy rice ever ruined an otherwise delicious meal? Making great rice can be a challenge for cooks at any level, but it needn't be. With a minimum of effort, you can learn how to make great rice every time. All you need are a pan with a tight-fitting lid, water, and of course the item in question -- rice.

The amount of water and required cooking time depend upon the type of rice you're using. For example, Thai jasmine rice requires 1 1/4 cups of liquid per cup, while aged basmati requires 1 1/2 cups of liquid. Brown rice retains its bran coat and germ but is much slower to cook. It has more nutritional value than highly polished white rice, but I still prefer white rice for most recipes. Generally, short-grain rice (like Italian arborio or Asian sticky rice) and medium-grain rices (what you're probably used to) cook up tender and moist and are most suitable in recipes for sauces, rings, croquettes and puddings. Long-grain rices (including basmati and jasmine rices) are best in soups, salads and entrées, where fluffy, distinct grains are required.

The Basics for Cooking White and Brown Rice

Hint: To prevent rice sticking to the sides and bottom of the pot, place one tablespoon olive oil and your rice in the pot, stir to coat rice thoroughly, then add water according to the following directions.

  1. Place one cup of rice and 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups water in a sauce pan. Leave the pan uncovered and bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, then stir once quickly.
  2. Turn heat down to low, place lid on pan and allow rice to tenderize for about 20 minutes.
  3. Once rice has finished cooking, remove from heat, allow to stand, covered, for five minutes.
  4. Remove lid, carefully fluff rice with a fork. Serve while hot.
For brown rice, increase water to 2 to 2 1/2 cups and increase cooking time to 45 minutes.

For More Interesting Rice

  • Use chicken, beef or vegetable broth instead of plain water.
  • Sauté onions, carrots, bell peppers or celery in your sauce pan, then add rice and water and cook as above.
  • To prepare rice that is a little more firm, heat oil in the sauce pan and sauté rice until opaque; then add liquid. Finish cooking as above.
  • When sautéing rice add some minced zest of lime or lemon. One teaspoon per cup of rice will do.
  • Add a teaspoon of cumin for each cup of rice.
Now that you have a few basics down, how about a couple of recipes? (For more recipes and information, see www.dancingchef.com.)

South Asian Style Rice Salad

  • 1 cup long-grain brown or white rice (cooked as above, if you use white rice, sauté uncooked rice first)
  • 1/2 cup currants
  • two green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • one medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup toasted cashews
  • one stalk celery, chopped
Prepare rice according to basic directions above. In a large bowl, mix together rice, currants, green onions, sesame seeds, bean sprouts, cashews, bell peppers, celery and parsley. In a separate bowl mix together orange juice, soy sauce, sherry, minced garlic, ginger root and oil. Toss the rice-vegetable mixture with the dressing, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Rice Pilaf

  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped asparagus
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
Cook the rice according to basic instructions, but substitute low-sodium chicken stock for the water, add one bay leaf and 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme. While the rice is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Set a sauté pan over medium-high heat, then add the oil and all the vegetables. Toss together. Add about four tablespoons of water; sprinkle on salt and pepper. Swirl pan to mix. Bring water to a boil, cover pan, and cook about 5 minutes or until asparagus begin to turn a dark green hue. If any water remains, drain it off, then turn the vegetables out on top of rice and toss together with a fork. Serve now!

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