(Photo by roboppy)
The absolute easiest way to cook rice is to use instant rice. Instant rice has been precooked and dried out. Cooking instant rice is really just re-hydrating it, and is as easy as boiling water.
Though brands and types vary slightly in directions, usually a measure of instant rice is added to an equal measure of boiling water, covered, removed from the heat, and is ready in three to ten minutes. It is as easy as that.
Many cooks, though, do not want to use instant rice. With its great convenience come some drawbacks. It is more expensive. Some nutrients are lost, as is some flavor.
Cooking regular rice, though it takes longer and requires more attention, should not be daunting, however.
Whether to begin by rinsing the uncooked rice is an open question. In the past, rice was routinely rinsed as a sanitary precaution to remove any contaminants. Today, many still rinse uncooked rice, particularly imported rice or rice packaged in large bags. It is not necessary to rinse boxed rice. Directions on the rice’s packaging should be followed since some rice, especially domestic rice, is fortified with vitamins which pre-rinsing washes away.
One reason rice is fortified is because nutrients are lost in the processing.
White rice, which is preferred by some, is milled to remove both the outer and inner husks of bran.
Brown rice retains the inner husk. It has a slightly chewier texture and nutty taste. White rice cooks in about half the time of brown rice.
To cook white rice, add a cup of rice to two cups of water in a saucepan. The pan should have at least a two quart capacity to allow for the expansion of the rice as it cooks. Bring to a boil while stirring occasionally.
Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and let the rice simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Remove from the heat. While some prefer to let the rice stand, covered, for a few minutes more, that is usually not necessary. Fluff the rice with a fork.
Because brown rice takes a longer time to cook, it also requires some extra water. For brown rice, a cup of rice should be added to two and a half cups of water. It is cooked in the same manner as white rice, except that it should be simmered for 30-40 minutes.
Most specialty rices, such as Asian Jasmine rice and Indian Basmati rice, are cooked in the same way. Italian Arborio, used in risotto, requires the liquid to be added gradually during cooking for creaminess.
Electric rice cookers are also available that make cooking regular rice as easy, though not as quick, as cooking instant rice.
Here’s Ming Tsai showing how you can cook perfect rice
(both by boiling in a pot and using a rice cooker):