Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Steamed rice, refined

Every so often, cooking rice obsesses me (see below, and previous posts, including this). The following method, I reckon, works perfectly with most of the widely available brands of Basmati rice, so I should be able to give the subject a rest for a while.

1) Soak rice for 20 minutes or longer.

2) Drain, tip into a saucepan, and cover the grains with 1.5 times their volume of cold water. Add salt, if you like.

3) Bring to the boil. Turn down the heat to its lowest, cover the pan, and put a heat disperser under it.

4) Cook for a further 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, and serve when you're ready.

Pre-soaking means that the rice will soften in less water. (If you are cooking 250g or more rice, you may find that you need less than 1.5 times its volume of water. Covering it by a mm or two should work.) By the end, its surface is dry, and it separates when stirred, even after it has stood for a while. Boiled straight from the packet and then covered, it is apt to clump.


pablopatito said...

Do you think the hardness or softness of the water has any impact on cooking rice?

Nicholas Clee said...

Good question. I expect it does, but I don't know what.

Soft water can be more acidic; and acid can slow the softening of vegetables, and presumably rice too. On the other hand, the calcium in hard water can have the same effect.

Cooks used to put something acidic - lemon juice, most often - in the cooking water to retain rice's whiteness.

My trusty guide Harold McGee says that salt in water helps to prevent pasta from sticking together. So it should have the same effect on rice.