For about three billion people around the world rice is the basic staple. For the rest of the world population there seems to be a bit of fear associated with getting it cooked right. There are a number of simple rules of thumb that make it a lot less complicated.
Get a Rice Cooker!
The easiest and fastest way to cook rice is to use a rice cooker, like most households in Asia. If rice is to be a key longterm component of your diet then it would be a really good idea to get one. You just put the rice and water in the non stick insert bowl, press the button, and when it's cooked a little light tells you. It then keeps the rice hot and moist ready for serving for up to one day.
How do I cook rice in a saucepan?
Add your rice, rinse with water, add required water and cook for about twenty to twenty five minutes with the lid on. Use only enough heat to keep the water boiling or the base might burn. After it has finished cooking it is a good idea to let the rice sit and rest for a few minutes if you have time, as this improves the texture.
How much water?
The best rule of thumb is to put your rice in the cooking dish, put in your rice and rinse, and then put your finger vertically to the base of the dish. If the rice comes up to the first joint on your finger, then add water to bring it up to above the second joint, more water for brown rice as below.
- for white - one part rice, two parts water (1:2)
- for brown - needs more water (1:2.5) and more cooking
- for softer rice, more water, longer simmer
- for harder rice, less water, shorter simmer
Rice should be cooked so that once ready the rice is soft but not mushy, there should be no water left in the bottom of the pan but the base of the dish should not be burnt and the colour of the rice should be without any staining. Each time you cook the same type of rice you can check your result and modify your water and heat to improve your result.
How much rice?
As a general rule, rice bulks up in cooking by between 50 and 100% depending on the type of rice (better quality rices bulk up less). So when you are measuring out just imagine it bulked up and on a plate. If you work on about a cup (or a mug) for every two people you won't go too far wrong.
Can I cook rice in a microwave?
You certainly can, though it cooks the same way as a saucepan - the rice cooks from the boiling water, so the microwave is being used to boil the water, and if you use microwave to boil water you will know that there is no improvement on the time it takes to cook compared to a saucepan. Follow the same directions for cooking in a saucepan.
How long can I keep cooked rice?
Take it out of saucepan, put in a bowl, cover with cling film and place in fridge and it will keep well for a couple of days. Leftover rice is the best rice to use for making fried rice, as the texture is better than fresh rice for this purpose.