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Our food experts Fran Abdallaoui and Pamela Clark explain the best methods for cooking rice.
cooking rice to perfection
Rice is a versatile grain and to cook it perfectly requires just a few simple rules. All rice is long-grain, medium-grain or short-grain. Within these three types, there are many variations – brown, white, red, black, fragrant, sticky, creamy-cooking, firmcooking and more – that all take slightly different times to cook. Long-grain Cooks to give separate, fluffy grains ideal for pilafs, salads and most savoury dishes. Medium-grain Slightly more clingy than long-grained when cooked. Ideal for croquettes and for eating with chopsticks. Special varieties, such as arborio, are used for risotto and other dishes. Short-grain Cooks to soft, moist grains that cling together, perfect for puddings and sushi.
Boiling This method keeps the grains separate, but can taste a little watery. Bring a large saucepan of slightly salted water to the boil. Add rice, stir once, then boil gently, uncovered, for about 8 minutes. The rice should be tender but not mushy. Drain before serving. Absorption uses an exact quantity of water and retains the flavour of the rice. Rinse rice in a sieve under cold running water, running your fingers through the rice to help dislodge the surface starch until the water runs clear. For 1½ cups (300g) uncooked white or brown rice, bring 3 cups (750ml) water for white rice or 3½ cups (875ml) for brown rice to the boil. Add a pinch of salt, then the rice. Return to the boil; cover with a lid. Reduce heat to very low. Cook white rice for 10 minutes and brown rice for 30 minutes. Remove from heat; stand covered for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. The pan must have a tight-fitting lid for this method to work. If the lid is loose, seal the saucepan with foil or wrap the lid in a tea towel to prevent the steam from escaping. Microwave Place 1½ cups (300g) of rinsed white rice in a medium microwave-safe dish. Pour over 2 cups (500ml) of cold water and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook on HIGH (100% power) for 12 minutes. Stand covered for 5 minutes before serving.