Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rice, steamed

My most recently recommended method of cooking rice works very satisfactorily. (Wash, bring twice its volume of water to the boil, tip in rice and a little salt if you like, lid on, return to boil, heat down, simmer for 10 minutes, drain.) But I get restless after doing things the same way for a while.

Yesterday, I soaked my rice for half an hour - as when you soak beans or lentils, it has a softening effect, and reduces water consumption and cooking time. I measured out water to 1.5 times the volume (of rice), poured it into a pan with a little salt, and tipped in the rice (drained). The water came to just above the level of the rice.

If you cook unsoaked rice in just 1.5 times its volume of water, it may remain hard - it will absorb the water too quickly, and the subsequent steaming will not tenderise it. The pre-soaking compensates for the less efficient tenderising process; the cooking time is probably the same as for boiling unsoaked rice. I reckoned that giving the rice a longer submersion, by starting it from cold, would aid the process.

I brought the rice to the boil in the covered pan, turned down the flame, and allowed 15 minutes in total.

The cooked grains were smaller than normal. The rice clumped a bit, but separated when fluffed with a fork. The Basmati rice available here in France tends to get mushy more readily than do the brands I buy in England, so this process may work better there. I may be on to something.


Claudine said...

Live in France, I always buy Basmati rice in bags of 5kg from the supermarket.
If the recipe calls for plain rice, I simply cook it in boiling water in a steamer in the microwave. The result is excellent.
If the recipe calls for a flavoured rice with added bits, be them onions or lardons, I fry one volume of rice in some fat (coconut oil is the current favourite) and add 1½ times the volume in liquid.
I find that soaking the rice before cooking does reduce the cooking time considerably, but the rice is too mushy for my taste.

I should add that with half of my family having come from Madagascar where rice is as much of a staple as bread is in France, I cook and eat rice several times a week (and still love it!)

Nicholas Clee said...

Thanks, Claudine. Different brands require different quantities of water and cooking times, in my experience. You have found solutions that work for the brand you buy.

Mushiness is simply a result of overcooking. So it may be that if you pre-soak your rice, you can get a better result by reducing the quantity of water.

Whether pre-soaking rice and cooking it mostly with steam is better overall, I've yet to decide.