Rice is a food you can completely waste if you don’t cook it properly. It can become a lump, stay like raw starch, half-lump and half-starch. It can taste watery. Or you can get it just great : fluffy, each grain cooked at the same level, neither hard nor smashed, and full of its flavors.
It is not particularly difficult.
To obtain perfectly cooked rice like in the good Asian restaurants, you don’t need a rice-cooker. This method works with any type of stoves (or campfire) and a cast-iron pot.
That takes about 50 minutes, but you will be busy less 5~10 minutes.
The first time, stay around all the time, observe everything. Write memos. You may have to slightly adjust the time and heat as conditions very from kitchen to kitchen. But after that will become automatic. I know “step 1” takes 3 minutes on my stove, just the time to drink my coffee. Then I set the stove timer on 8 minutes and I come back half an hour later.
It is important to wash your rice not only to get rid of the excess of starch (and coating additives in certain countries) but also to wet it. You can see on the photo below that after washing, the rice is already a little more voluminous than when it was dry.
Rice cooks in 25 minutes (or more), but this is not a continuous process :
Step 1 : reaching the heat, getting fully wet.
Step 2 : cooking while absorbing the water.
Step 3 : cooking while absorbing the steam.
Salt would prevent the water from properly wetting the grain. Don’t add any.
That also works with a thick terracotta stove-top pot, of a very thick steel pot like a pressure-cooker. These thick pot have the property of retaining the heat for a long time.
IMPORTANT : SIZE MATTERS.
Look at this photo. In this pot, I can cook from 1 to 2 cups of rice. Roughly the dry rice should be from 1/5th to 2/5th of the volume of your pot.
More rice, it would overflow.
Less rice, there wouldn’t be enough concentration of steam.
This is a Japanese rice cup : 180 milliliter. That doesn’t matter if you use a different measuring cup. Measure the dry rice and the water with the same cup.
So let’s go :
******** RECIPE **********
WASHING AND WETTING THE RICE :
Easy technique :
-Place a vegetable colander in a salad bowl. Put your measured dry rice and plenty of water.
-With your hand, rub the rice over the walls of the colander during 2 minutes. Don’t be lazy, do that with energy. The water will become white like milk. Discard water, rinse. -Repeat 1 or 2 times.
-Then you should get clear water.
-Take away the bowl, and let rest 5 minutes (or more).
Transfer the rice into the pot. Add 1 cup plus 20% of of a cup of water. For “sushi rice”, as you will add more liquid later, you need 1 cup plus 10% of cup. The water is cold or room temperature.
Do NOT add salt now.
Put the lid on your pot.
STEP 1 :
Place it on the stove, on high heat (start medium if it’s a terracotta pot). After 2~3 minutes, check the lid with your finger. When it gets very hot, you know the steam is filling the pot. Pass to step 2.
STEP 2 :
Pass on low heat. Start a timer for 8 minutes. Then cut the heat. Do NOT open the lid.
STEP 3 :
Let the rice absorb the heat during about 20 minutes (12 is a minimum).
After step 2, the rice should have absorbed the water. The first time, check briefly. If some water is left, cook 2 minutes more, check again… The next times, you’ll know it takes a little longer in your kitchen.
When you check, do it very quickly, then shut back the lid and put 30 seconds more on heat to recreate some steam for “step 3”.
Perfectly cooked rice.
You can salt it now if you want.
For a few more tips click here (I’ll post this soon)