Rice Cooking Methods, Glossary

Rice Cooking Methods, Glossary

While a basic supply of long-grain and short-grain rice should always be in the store cupboard for savory and sweet dishes, there are now many types available which can given variety to meals. White rice will keep for 18 months in a rigid container in a cool, dry place, but it is probably more convenient to buy small quantities of a number of different rices, some of which have a shorter shelf rice.

When buying and cooking rice, it should be remembered that it swells considerably when cooked. 2oz (50g) uncooked rice will weight 6-8oz (150-225g) when cooked, and this quantity is an average portion for 1 person.

Boiling Rice

There is some vitamin loss when rice is boiled in water and it is wise only to use the amount of water which will be absorbed by the grain during cooking. Allow twice the volume of rice in water (8oz, 225g) rice to 1 pint (600ml water), and bring the water to the boil. Stir in the rice and bring to the boil again, then cover and simmer until most of the water has been absorbed. Rice should be al dente and the easiest test is to hold a grain and insert the thumbnail which should just go in without resistance. Rinse the cooked rice in cold water and then in hot and tip on to a warm flat serving dish. Leave in a warm place or very low oven for a few minutes so that the grains steam-dry, moving them occasionally with a fork so that the grains dry evenly and are separate. Basmati rice cooks in 10 minutes; brown rice in about 30 minutes; all other types will be ready in 12-15 minutes.

Steaming Rice

This is a favorite Chinese method of cooking rice, and is a little more complicated than boiling, but it produces a very light, fluffy texture. This is a good method for basmati and long-grain white rice, but brown rice takes a very long time. Boil a large saucepan of salted water and sprinkle in the rice. Stir well, bring to the boil and then stir again. Cover the pan, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then drain well. Rinse the rice in hot water and put it into a vegetable steamer. If the steamer has large holes, line it first with a piece of muslin, or aluminum foil in which fine holes have been picked. Make several holes through the rice with the handle of a wooden spoon so that the steam circulates. Place the steamer on a pan of boiling water, making sure that the water does not touch the grains. Cover and steam for 45 minutes.

Alternative Cooking Methods

Preparation in a pressure cooker will considerably reduce cooking time. Always check with the manufacturer's instructions to avoid mushiness. In a slow-cooker; rice may be left to cook at the lower temperature, and white rice will take 8 hours, but brown rice 10 hours. At the higher temperature, white rice will need 60 minutes and brown rice 120 minutes. The rice may be simply cooked in water, or in stock, or as part of a mixed dish. In the microwave oven, a few minutes will be saved when cooking rice, but it is probably more practical to prepare other items from the menu by this method, and leave the rice to cook reasonably quickly on top of the above.

Long Grain Rice (Patna) - Long thin white grains of polished rice, which should be light, fluffy and separated when cooked.

Short Grain Rice (Carolina or Pudding Rice) - Round short grains with a slightly chalky appearance, which become slightly sticky and cling together when cooked. Most often used for sweet puddings, the rice may be used for risotto or other savory dishes in which the liquid is absorbed during cooking to produce a creamy result.

Italian Rice (Risotto Rice, Arburio) - A short grain rice with slightly fatter grains, also known as risotto rice since it absorbs liquids and gives a creamy texture to that dish. Arburio rice from northern Italy has a particularly fine flavor.

Basmati Rice (Pilau Rice) - Known as 'the prince of rices', this is a long grain rice of high quality and very good flavor. It does not stick when cooked and is the perfect accompaniment to Indian dishes.

Brown Rice - Unpolished long grain rice with thin brown grains, which has a nutty flavor and chewy texture. It is more nutritious than white rice, but takes about twice as long to cook.

Wild Rice - Not true rice but the seed of a wild grass. The seeds are long, thin and dark brown, turning slightly purple when cooked. Difficult to find and very expensive, but the perfect accompaniment to game.

Easy-cook Rice - Rice which has been part-cooked under steam pressure, which is then cooked in a carefully measured quantity of water. This rice may be packed loose in a box or sealed in a boil-in bag, and is light and fluffy when cooked. It is particularly easy to cook this rice in a covered casserole in the oven, which makes preparation easy for a large party without danger of over-cooking, or spillage of foaming water.

Rice Flakes - Large irregular white flakes processed from rice grains which cook quickly to make soft-textured puddings.

Ground Rice - Coarse ground grains which are usually cooked in milk to produce smooth and easily digestible puddings. Ground rice may also be used in tart fillings, and added to cakes and biscuits.

Rice Flour - Finely ground flour made from grains. It is gluten-free and useful for those on low-gluten diets.

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