The Perils and Joys of RICE
In some languages, the word for eat means "eat rice", but rice had always been my nemesis. No matter how hard I tried, it was either too soft, the bottom was burnt, or it was too hard (not fully cooked). Much of this had to do with measurements. No matter that I did what the box said, or what someone else had told me, I couldn't get it right. Sometimes it had to do with the heat, not high or low enough. After much trial and error, I finally figured out how to make it perfect, and have been doing so for the past 10 yrs or so.
In most parts of the world rice is milled and polished to remove the bran and germ, but this is also the part that contains the valuable nutrients. In the US, white rice is enriched with two B vitamins, thiamin, niacin and iron. But in many countries enrichment is not a common practice, which results in many nutrient-deficiency diseases.
Rice Sizes: long-grain, medium-grain, and short-grain.
Long-grain rice accounts for about 75% of the domestic crop. The slender grains are four to five times longer than they are wide. If properly cooked, they will be fluffy and dry, with separate grains.
Medium-grain rice is about twice as long as it is wide and cooks up moister and more tender than long-grain. It is popular in some Asian and Latin American cultures, and is the type of rice most commonly processed to make cold cereals.
Short-grain rice may be almost oval or round in shape. Of the three types of rice, it has the highest percentage of amylopectin, the starch that makes rice sticky, or clump together, when cooked. Easy to eat with chopsticks, it is ideal for dishes like sushi.
Enriched rice: Enriched rice has thiamin, niacin, and iron added after milling to replace some of the nutrients lost when the bran layer is removed. As a result, it is higher in these nutrients than brown rice.
Converted rice: Converted rice has been soaked and steamed under pressure before milling, which forces some of the nutrients into the remaining portion of the grain so that they are not completely lost in the processing. Enriched parboiled rice is similar to regular enriched rice in terms of thiamin, niacin, and iron, but it has more potassium, folate (folic acid), riboflavin, and phosphorous, though not as much as brown rice. Converted rice takes a little longer to cook than regular rice, but the grains will be very fluffy and separate after they have been cooked.
Instant white rice: Instant rice, which actually takes about five minutes to prepare, has been milled and polished, fully cooked, and then dehydrated. It is usually enriched and only slightly less nutritious than regular enriched white rice, but it lacks the satisfying texture of regular rice.
White Rice/1 cup cooked
Total fat (g) 0.4
Saturated fat (g) 0.1
Monounsaturated fat (g) 0.1
Polyunsaturated fat (g) 0.1
Dietary fiber (g) 0.6
Protein (g) 4
Carbohydrate (g) 45
Cholesterol (mg) 0
Sodium (mg) 2
Thiamin (mg) 0.3
Folate (mcg) 92
Manganese (mg) 0.8
Selenium (mcg) 12
My perfect measurement is 1 part rice to 2 parts water. Meaning, if you use one cup of rice, use two cups of water.*
1/2 cup rice = 1 cup of water
2 cups rice = 4 cups water
*A half cup of rice is enough for one or two people, depending on how much you consider one serving, and a cup can be enough for 2 to 4 people, again, depending on serving size.
You can use long or short grain, although I prefer long.
- You want a medium heat, you don't want a rapid/heavy boil, but a soft boil
- Keep the lid tight and try not to open it too many times
- Heat your pot, let the pot get hot, add two tbs of olive oil (or butter)
- Add the rice, stir, then add water (hot or cold)
- Put lid on and let cook
- Times will vary, depending on how much rice, a cup is about 15-20 min.
- Try to use a pot, not a flat pan.
After doing this a number of times, you will know how to tell when the rice is done. It may be the holes in the top of the rice, a certain dryness to the rice on top. Hopefully it won't be by the burning smell too many times, lol.
Fluff rice with a fork before serving, no matter which cooking method you've chosen. For drier rice, fluff it, then cover the pan again and let it stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Consider cooking more rice than you need for a meal, as it reheats well if you add a few tablespoonfuls of extra liquid. Cooked rice will keep for about a week in the refrigerator.
The best thing about rice is it's versatility, you can add it to almost anything, and you can add almost anything to it. Here are some examples.
Rice Omeletts/Omerice - Is a traditionally Japanese dish. Rice and egg are a suprisingly good combination. We all know about egg in our chinese fried rice, but you can also add rice to omeletts, for a breakfast, brunch or anytime treat.
Omelette : mix 2 eggs in a bowl with 4 teaspoons of milk, season to taste*
(season to taste means, add a pinch of the seasonings you like, I add a little pepper, a little adobo, a little chili powder and a little parsley)
Then I take a 1/2 cup of cooked rice (maybe from last nights dinner, throw it in a greased or nonstick pan, with a little meat from last nights dinner (chicken, ham, pork chop, turkey, steak, meatball, etc), you can add some chopped onion, bell pepper, heat through. You can add just the rice and cheese, just the rice and onion...or any combo you like.
Now the next step can be done one or two ways.
Myself, I take the egg and pour it over the filling, let it cook until the egg is firm enough to fold, add a slice of cheese and then fold it. Some people prefer to take another pan, heat it, grease it, put the egg in, swirl it around to cover the pan, then put the fillings in, let the egg cook till firm, then flip it in half (adding cheese if you like).
Either way is fine, and as with anything...the more you do it, the better you'll get at it, and the more you will adjust the recipe to suit your taste.
When you adjust a recipe to suit your taste, it now becomes YOUR recipe!
More Rice combos:
- add chicken bouillion (cubed or powdered)or a packet of Sazon (which maked the rice yellow). Both give the rice so much flavor, you won't need butter. Good for dieting.
- Stuffed peppers (recipe to come)
- add canned beans (pinto, kidney, pidgeon, peas...almost any)(rinse them first)
- add chopped onion or bell pepper
- add chopped spinach
Rices are also labeled according to variety:
Arborio: Arborio is a starchy white rice, with an almost round grain, grown mainly in the Po Valley of Italy. Traditionally used for cooking the Italian dish risotto, it also works well for paella and rice pudding. Arborio absorbs up to five times its weight in liquid as it cooks, which results in grains of a creamy consistency.
Aromatic rices: These are primarily long-grain varieties that have a toasty, nutty fragrance and a flavor reminiscent of popcorn or roasted nuts. Most of these can be found in grocery stores, but a few may be available only at gourmet shops.
Basmati: Basmati, the most famous aromatic rice, is grown in India and Pakistan. It has a nutlike fragrance while cooking and a delicate, almost buttery flavor. Unlike other types of rice, the grains elongate much more than they plump as they cook. Lower in starch than other long-grain types, basmati turns out flaky and separate. Although it is most commonly used in Indian cooking, basmati can also be substituted for regular rice in any favorite recipe. It is fairly expensive compared to domestic rice.
Glutinous rice (sweet rice): Popular in Japan and other Asian countries, this type of short-grain rice is not related to other short-grain rices. Unlike regular table rice, this starchy grain is very sticky and resilient, and turns translucent when cooked. Its cohesive quality makes it suitable for rice dumplings and cakes, such as the Japanese mochi, which is molded into a shape.
Jasmine: Jasmine is a traditional long-grain white rice grown in Thailand. It has a soft texture and is similar in flavor to basmati rice. Jasmine rice is also grown in the United States, and is available in both white or brown forms.
Texmati: Certain types of rice--some sold only under a trade name--have been developed in the United States to approximate the flavor and texture of basmati rice. Texmati is one of these; it was developed to withstand the hot Texas climate (there is also a brown rice version).
Wehani: An American-grown aromatic rice, Wehani has an unusual rust-colored bran that makes it turn mahogany when cooked.
Wild pecan (popcorn rice): Another basmati hybrid, this aromatic rice is tan in color (because not all of the bran has been removed, with a pecanlike flavor and firm texture.
If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment, ask any questions.
Questions will help me know how to explain things better.
Remember, two things:
The only dumb question is the one you don't ask.
There's no such thing as a bad cook, only an uneducated and unpracticed one. Practice makes perfect and the more you cook, the better you will get at it.