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
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.
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
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.