Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Perfect boiled rice — the easy way

For years, I've been simultaneously puzzled, astonished and amused by those who boil their rice in an excess of water, then drain and wash out the starch under running hot water. Never mind that hot water from the boiler adds copper from the pipes — not exactly the healthy option — what madness is this?

Yes, I know lots of Chinese now use electric rice-steamers, but I prefer to cook mine the analogue way. Apart from not having the room for storage (mine is somewhere deep in the bowels of the shed), it's the culinary difference between driving automatic and manual.

Preferring the feel of the gear stick in my hand, here's how I do it.

First, choose your rice.

The easiest and quickest to cook is white rice. I was brought up on long grain American rice but I really like white basmati and fragrant Thai. The problem is that, being refined, with the husk and nutrients that sit just under the skin removed, you get a hypoglycaemic hit as all those carbohydrates make demands on your poor old pancreas to pump out insulin.

However, working on the principle that a little of what you fancy is what the doctor ordered, enjoy it but maybe not every day.

I usually use organic brown basmati as I get the nutrients plus roughage and it doesn't take quite as long to cook as standard brown rice.

A mug of rice for two peopleFor two people, add about a mug of dry raw rice to a small saucepan and give it a rinse under cold running water. White rice has a lot of loose starch on the surface so you'll have to do this several times, swirling it with your hand, until the water runs clear.

Add water to depth of one knuckleThen, instead of fiddly measuring devices, add water up to a depth of one knuckle above the white rice.

No matter how much you cook, the principle is one knuckle depth of water above the rice. This is true of white, but for some strange reason, it's a little less with brown. About three-quarters should do it.

Chicken stock cube and boiling riceAdd a sprinkle of salt or low-sodium salt. I cheat and crumble in one Kallo organic chicken stock cube.

Place a tight lid on top and bring to the boil over a high heat. Then turn all the way down — you want the lowest heat so make sure the pan is on the smallest ring. Simmer for 15 minutes for white Thai fragrant and basmati, 20 minutes for long-grain white rice, 40 minutes for organic brown basmati, and ten years, I mean, 50 minutes for standard brown rice.

Whatever you do, DO NOT remove the lid and have a poke around. Control your curiosity and trust me. If you have a glass lid, you'll see little steam holes appearing in the rice as the water is absorbed. If not, think of Schrodinger's Cat. It is both cooked and not cooked until the moment you are allowed to peek. (Dear lord, now I've mentioned cat in a recipe!)

perfect fluffy boiled riceRemove from the heat at the end of the cooking time, open the lid and give it a stir with a wooden spoon or spatula, and immediately replace the lid so it can continue to steam under its own steam for another five minutes and fluff up.

There it is, via the traditional Asian method. Serve with something delicious from this blog.

EQUIPMENT NOTE: If you don't want to burn your rice, use a pan with a thicker base. I use a steel pan with a thick copper base. But if the rice does catch, Chinese people like the crispy bits, as long as it's not burnt to the point of being bitter.


Gwei Mui said...

Love it, I always try and combne chicken days with boiling rice - especiallyt if I'm boilling a chcken. I just use the water to coli the rice in :)

Yin said...

I do not understand this madness! First thing i bought for uni was a rice cooker haha. I only cook congee in a pot. =D

Looks nice though. What is your stance on brown rice and white rice. I quite like brown but my family isn't used to it.

Anna Chen said...

My stand on rice is that, if this was a football tournament, I would cheer on organic brown basmati to win the cup.

But I understand that standard brown rice deserves some sort of victory, even though it's unpopular. A chewy performance, more interesting than the blander whites which have a lot of money thrown at them.

Thai fragrant jasmine is the delicate flower that always comes good but requires pampering.

Anna Chen said...

Of course, what I really want to write is:

Still washing the starch out of your rice after it's cooked? Don't waste it. Boil up your drawers at the same time and get that nice stiff feeling in your pants.Try the traditional Chinese method saving time and burnt pans and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat at the same time.

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