Thrifty Whitties: How to make perfect rice

Olivia Jones

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Until I came to college, I was unaware that such a thing as instant rice existed. When I first tried it, I was pleasantly surprised. It is hard to mess up, quick and perfectly acceptable as far as rice goes. However, I am passionate about rice, and when it comes to texture and consistency, instant rice is just not up to par with the real thing. Each grain of well-cooked rice is glossy and plump, and as a whole there should be just enough starchiness that the individual grains clump together, but not so much that they resemble dining hall gluey rice blobs. When I am cooking a dish that features rice, I begin preparing my rice a few hours early.

The first step to making delicious rice is to wash it thoroughly. Measure as much rice as you wish to cook into a bowl and add cold water. Use clean hands to agitate the rice, rubbing the grains between your hands. Once the water is opaque, tip the bowl over the sink to drain the water. Be careful not to lose any rice; some people use their hand or a pot lid to keep the rice in the bowl as they drain. Replace it with fresh water and scrub the rice again. I usually subject the rice to three rinses, but the best way to tell when the rice is clean is by the translucency of the water. The water does not need to be completely clear on your last rinse, but it should be pretty clear. If you are familiar with coconut water, it should look like that. What this process does is wash the starch off of the rice. When making risotto you do not wash the rice because the added starch will help to achieve a thick consistency.

Preparing the rice can make all the difference, so if you have the time and foresight, try following these instructions. If not, skip to the next paragraph. Now that it is clean, set it aside to dry in a strainer. Make sure the holes in your strainer are smaller than rice grains and spread the rice into a bowl shape in the strainer to allow it to dry more quickly. It should take approximately an hour to dry. An easy way to check to see if the rice is dry is to run your fingers through the grains. If they all move easily you should be ready to cook.

If you are using a rice maker, this is easy. F0r each cup 0f rice, add water to the rice maker up to the corresponding line on the inside. Place the lid on top and press the start button. If you have a rice maker that more than ten years old, when the rice maker is finished, allow the rice five to 10 more minutes to steam before actually removing the lid. My rice maker is older than I am with only one button, but it has loyally served me for as long as I can remember and it still makes delicious rice. So you don’t need to buy a new rice maker with fancy options to get delicious rice. However, the new machines do have options to keep your rice moist, fresh, and warm for days.

If you do not have the luxury of a rice maker, you can still make delicious rice. Place your rice and water in a medium or large flat-bottomed pot. I have tried several different measurements and found the best to be a ratio of two cups of rice with three cups of water. Turn the burner on to a medium-high heat and bring the water to a boil. Once it is boiling, turn the heat down to low and cover the pot with a tight lid, one that will not allow the steam to escape. Whatever you do, resist the urge to check on the rice. Once 10 to 15 minutes have gone by, remove the pot from the heat, but leave the lid on for another five to ten minutes.

Stay tuned to Thrifty Whitties, and I will teach you how to make sushi rice! Until then, enjoy the fluffy perfection of well-cooked rice.

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