Cooking Rice

On a mailing list the other day, someone was asking about cooking rice. As I've done a fair amount of that in my life, I dashed together the following instructions. Seems like it oughta be on the website.

Selecting a Rice Cooker

  1. Go to oriental grocery store. If more than one person working in the store speaks english, you might be in the wrong store.
  2. Stare intently at the rice cookers on the shelf. Wait for someone to come over and see if you need help, or possibly ask for help.
  3. Get the cheapest rice cooker with a stainless-steel pot that doesn't make the person helping you frown.

Cooking rice

I do just fine cooking rice in a cheap (~$20) ToastMaster rice cooker, which was recommended to me above some more expensive units. It's just got an on switch, and goes to “warm-mode” automatically when it's done cooking. Pull the plug to shut it off entirely.

I should also mention that another method works fine without a cooker, and is the preferred rice-cooking method over a campfire:

  1. Put 2 cups of cold water in a saucepan for each level cup of rice.
  2. Put the lid on the saucepan and turn on medium heat.
  3. When it starts to simmer (this is obvious since it will boil over a little which you will hear) turn heat to low and set a timer for 10 minutes.
  4. When the timer goes off, you turn the heat off and let it stand for at least 5 minutes.

Note there is no rinsing, salt or draining. The lid stays on the whole time, except maybe for a second or two when you are rescuing the pan from boiling over.

The two things I do when cooking rice in my rice cooker are to rinse white rice (takes 2 or 3 rinses, minimum), and adjust the quantity of water for various other types of rice. It took a while to get the water quantities right for some brown rice, but for most white rice (including jasmine and basmati), I just put in the rice, and then put in water until it's about a fingernail's length (roughly ½″) above the rice. More water for brown rice, and no rinsing for sushi rice.

Sticky-rice wants a conical cooker and steam. I generally don't make sticky rice for myself, but I've been told that a steamer similar to this one is the best non-traditional bet.

Sushi rice gets made by adding rice wine vinegar and sugar after the rice is cooked. These directions for sushi rice are pretty typical. Cal-Rose rice has worked very well for me.

I do Arborio/risotto in a frying pan, as with that you want to add liquid (water, chicken-stock, or white-wine) continuously and keep stirring to give it the right creamy texture.

Wild rice gets cooked as follows: Soak for 15 minutes in water, then rinse with cold water three or four times. Pre-cook by boiling in a saucepan for 30 minutes, 3 parts water/1 part rice, then put in foil bag with portabello mushrooms, garlic, onions, etc., sprinkle with water (maybe half a part) and seal the foil bag. 5-10 minutes on the hot part of the grill, 10-15 @ 250 in the oven, or 15-20 on the coolest part of the grill if you've got a big grill with all the charcoal on one side. Add a little butter, ghee, or olive-oil and loosen before serving. Goes especially well with trout and walleye.

Alternate method

I guess I should mention the other trick for getting good rice that a friend of mine used.

Warning: not terribly politically correct.

  1. Go to Viet Nam.
  2. Meet cute gal.
  3. Make multiple trips there to meet family, make sure she can cook, etc.
  4. Marry her, and bring her back to the states.
  5. Perfect rice, every time.
Copyright 2009, Dave Polaschek. Last updated on Mon, 15 Feb 2010 14:08:20.