December 09, 2004

Cooking Rice

by psu

Occasionally, people ask me about cooking rice. I always say:

"First you get out your rice cooker."

At this point, they might ask, "Well, what if I don't have a rice cooker?"

In that case, my answer starts:

"Well, first you go buy a rice cooker."

I will state without proof that if you ask most people of East Asian heritage how to cook rice, the first thing they'll tell you is to get a rice cooker. This is because they don't know how to make rice because their parents had a rice cooker, and their grandparents had a rice cooker, and their relatives all had rice cookers, and all their friends families had rice cookers. Here is why. This is how you cook perfect rice with a rice cooker:

1. Put rice in the cooker.
2. Maybe rinse it if you are supposed to.
3. Fill with water up to the appropriate line.
4. Turn on the cooker.
5. Go play Halo 2 until the cooker pops.

This is all I know about cooking rice. In fact, many of my most disastrous kitchen debacles involve trying to cook rice on the stove. I just don't do it anymore.

One final note: please none of that crappy pre-cooked rice. Get nice California rice. Minute Rice is a crime against humanity and Uncle Ben's should be grounds for criminal prosecution. I'll hurt you if I catch you.

One more final note: perfect rice is sticky, but with a light fluffy texture. The rice should stick together though, since this facilitates consumption with chopsticks. The main reason Uncle Ben's is a crime is the fact that the rice does not stick to itself. Why anyone would do this on purpose is a mystery to me, but the rice I get in most non-Asian restaurants is like this. The Italians have it right though, with their risotto.

Where to buy a rice cooker

Here is a nice cheap one from Amazon.

Here is an expensive one from Amazon. Use this for Sushi Rice.

Posted by psu at December 9, 2004 08:07 PM | Bookmark This

i've only ever purchased one rice cooker. it was $19, and totally sucked. the rice tended to flow into walls of gum stuck to the side.

my mom swears by the microwave oven when cooking rice. my rice is cooked on the stove.

my technique:

take a pan with a tight-fitting lid. pour in a full glass of water. put the lid back on, bring to a boil. pour in rice measured about a thumb less than a full glass of water. cover. bring back up to a boil. reduce heat to lowest setting. depending on the stove, you might have to move the pot a little off the burner if it's too hot.

set timer to 20 minutes. come back. fork up. chow down.

that's maybe 10 years old at this point. it's sometimes supplemented with a cardamom pod or two thrown in with the rice.

Posted by doug luce at December 12, 2004 03:12 AM

also, the best basmati:

yum yum.

Posted by doug luce at December 12, 2004 04:31 AM

Like Doug I also purchased several rice cookers in my more ignorant days and, besides producing uneven rice, their cleaning required three subjugated campesinos and cases of corrosive chemicals.

The Spanish way for "white rice" (as opposed to "yellow rice", which is rice with saffron and "stumbles" à la paella):

In a pan (my grandmother's rice pot lid would not fit if you hammered it down), burn slices of garlic in a little olive oil. A microsecond before they become charcoal, add X glasses of rice. Stir to mix the charcoal and add 1.5X glasses of water. It will sizzle and thereby impress children and dates/imminent one-night stands. Keep the burn up until it boils, add salt, lower flame to simmer, cover, go play Halo 2 (it reminds my grandmother of her youth). When it has soaked up the water (15 minutes later) put out flame, uncover and let sit for 5 more minutes before putting a fried egg and some tomato sauce on top.

I find that with the rice in this here parts I need to put more water, and it's still not granny's white rice. But then again, it is also missing the congealed pork fat and the side of sautéed baby eels.

Posted by Juan Leon at December 17, 2004 02:00 AM

You fancy ass people and your fancy ass rice recipes. Sheesh.

Having been duely smacked down, I did want make one last point.

Generally a rice cooker seems to me to want less water than cooking on the stove. This might account for Doug's glue issues.
You also have to wait 10-15min after the thing pops to actually open it up. I forgot that.

I've never had trouble cleaning my cooker. Not sure why. Maybe I'm just used to the suffering.

Posted by psu at December 17, 2004 09:42 AM

Doug, Juan, I love you like brothers, but you are both utterly and didactically WRONG. Your rice-snob license is hereby REVOKED.

The issue is not that a rice cooker is better at applying heat to a pan containing some rice and water than a traditional pan on the stove (although it is). The issue is that a rice cooker is better at ceasing to apply heat when the rice is done. Your silly little directions for "cooking" rice are all well and fine, but I will hold you -- each of you -- personally responsible for every young child brutally killed, and every pot and pan ruined, by forgot-to-turn-off-the-rice industrial kitchen accidents. Maybe with your eidetic memories and huge manhoods YOU never forget to turn the rice off in time to save your thin and bitter gruel, but often I'm too busy making the rest of the meal to be bothered with things that the ($20) robots can do for me.

My rice cooker is easier to clean than any of my pots. Next time don't buy the one made from flypaper.

Posted by peterb at December 17, 2004 01:14 PM

i used another rice cooker last week. one cup water, one cup (minus a tiny bit) of rice. still didn't turn out as good as pan rice. so i'm incompetent when it comes to rice cookers. i also cannot for the life of me figure out how to make chili without burning the bottom inch.

if i'm putting children at risk by simmering the rice, i should probably be rightly accused of attempted premeditated murder every time i boil beans or whip up stock. and to think of pan-smoked meats....

Posted by doug luce at February 16, 2005 03:03 AM

I find that jasmine rice usually cooks better in a rice cooker. Basmati rice(and other long grains variety)cooks better in a pan. Similarly, cooking risotto(arborio rice)in a rice cook doesn't work very well either.

Posted by FTsui at March 25, 2005 07:35 PM

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