Different Ways To Cook Rice – Ann Taylor Pittman is a freelance food writer and recipe developer. Before going freelance, she built a career creating healthy recipes at Cooking Light magazine, where she worked for 20 years. He is the recipient of two James Beard Foundation awards. Anne lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband, 15-year-old twin boys, a large dog, and a small dog.
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Different Ways To Cook Rice
I had many allowances as a child. See, my mom is Korean, so even though we lived in Mississippi, we ate rice almost every day. It was always small-grain white rice from East Asia—the soft, glutinous kind—that my mother cooked in the rice cooker. What we call American-style rice – fluffy long-grain white rice – is very foreign to me. Sometimes I’ll order it in a cafeteria-style restaurant and marvel at the way the grains separate.
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When I grew up and started cooking for myself, my rice was the same grain, in the simple little rice cooker my mom sent me to college with. I’ve always been intimidated by long grain white rice and had bad results when I tried to cook it. Sometimes I follow the package instructions and it will come out. Other times it will be dry and chalky. Worse, I sometimes end up with sticky, sticky, overcooked grains. All these years, I was still afraid of long grain rice. I’ve never landed on a consistent, reliable method for cooking it well.
Of course, there’s no shortage of online methods that help you get fluffy, soft, perfectly cooked rice – and cook it faster, or easier, or with less effort. So I decided to test some popular cooking methods to see which ones delivered and which ones fell flat.
For this test, I went with what I call American-style rice: the long-grain white variety found in most grocery stores. Other varieties of rice (brown, short- or medium-grain, or even long-grain jasmine or basmati) may perform very differently in each set of instructions. Fortunately, I’ve found that most methods work well—good news for rice lovers—and a few unexpected methods that work really well.
Rice: When I shopped for long grain white rice, I quickly discovered that almost every option was labeled “extra long grain.” So I went with one of those, a nationally distributed, US brand called Riceland.
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Experiments: For each experiment, I cook one cup of long-grain white rice (about four servings, cooked). I tasted the rice as soon as it was done and then again after it had cooled for about 10 minutes. I measured the results of each test (for kicks), coming in between 3 and 3 1/4 cups for each method.
Time: The time mentioned includes every part of the process – from washing the rice, heating the stove, boiling the water, standing after the rice is cooked, etc.
Rating: I rated each method on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being perfect. Ratings are based on a combination of taste, texture and ease or difficulty of the method.
About this method: The instructions from Livestrong state that “a shallower pan depth allows more rice to cook at an even rate.” I’m curious to see if the wider surface area of a skillet would make a difference. Except for the ship, however, the method is relatively straightforward. Livestrong recommends that you wash the rice if it is imported. (Mine, so I don’t.) Then combine 1 part rice and 2 parts water (1 cup rice and 2 glasses water), bring the water to a boil, stir, reduce heat, cover, and simmer. At this point the liquid should be absorbed for 15 minutes and you can fluff the rice with a fork.
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Results: After 15 minutes, my rice was not cooked, and there was still water at the bottom of the pot. I cover the pan and let it stand for another 10 minutes off the heat to see if the rice absorbs the remaining water. It was, but the texture was confusing. Both of these are rubbish
Crunchy at the same time – the grains are extremely soft on the outside, with a hard, chalky core.
My Takeaway: In theory, this technique seems similar to pan cooking (explained later), but it just doesn’t work for me. It could be the ratio of liquid to rice, unwashed rice, greater surface area or all of the above. Regardless, I will never use this method again.
About this method: To be honest, I had a hard time finding instructions online for cooking long-grain white rice in a rice cooker, which is typically used for short-grain Asian rice. But WikiHow appears at the top of search results for many such cooking questions. That’s worth a look. The instructions say that if your rice cooker has a nonstick pot (mine does), you must rinse the rice (which I don’t). The chart suggests water-to-rice ratios for different types of rice, listing 1.75 cups of water for long-grain white rice. You can pre-soak the rice if you want, but I skipped that step and set the rice cooker – a Sanyo ECJ-S35K – for white rice and wait for the beep that it’s done.
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The result: very soft and fluffy rice, with an almost springy texture. It expands and does not separate; It sticks together a bit more than other methods.
My Takeaway: Although this method takes the most time, it’s hands-off and frees me up to do other things. I really like the rice, I think because it reminds me of the rice my mom used to cook when I was little. I understand that this means the rice has a glutinous texture similar to East Asian rice, so it’s not what you’d expect for long grain rice – so I’m deducting a few points for that, even though I really like it.
About this method: For this technique, I followed the method detailed by The Splendid Table. Start by boiling 3 quarts of salted water in a large pot (for me, it took 15 minutes), then add the rice (mine wasn’t rinsed) and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Then you drain the rice, return it to the pot, cover it and let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes (I left it for the full 10).
The result: the grains are fluffy and distinct, with the most juvenile bits of al dente firmness in the middle. Rice cooked this way becomes the most separated (not sticky), but the taste is a little flat.
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My takeaway: If you are rice challenged, this is a great method for you. You don’t actually have to measure the water, or at all! Just taste and extract it if it is shy of perfect exertion; The rice will absorb as much water as it needs.
Now, I know that rice is light, but this rice tastes less than others. I wouldn’t say it was swamped. That’s not true at all – it’s just flat. Perhaps this is because the excess water removes some of the starch from the grain.
About this method: I went with Penny’s With Penny’s instructions for oven-baked rice: In a 2-quart baking dish, you combine 1 cup rice, 1 3/4 cups boiling water, 2 tablespoons butter, and 1 tablespoon salt. Then you cover the dish tightly with foil and bake at 375°F for 22 to 27 minutes (I used 25). Leave the pan for 5 minutes, remove and fluff with a fork.
Results: This method works great, producing fluffy, soft, almost pilaf-like rice. This is the only recipe that requires butter, and the flavor is outstanding.
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My Takeaway: At first, I wondered if it would be worth the effort to boil the water separately. But I use my electric kettle, and it takes only 4 minutes to boil water. Hands are easy once the rice is in the oven making the front end work a little worthwhile. And the thing about the heat around the rice is even allowed to cook. Another advantage: If you have a lot of boiling and frying to do on the stove, cooking rice in the oven is a great option.
About this method: The Food Network method calls for 2 cups of rice and 2 cups of water to make instant pot rice, but I reduced it to 1 cup each to keep the test consistent. I wash the rice first, then mix it with water and salt in my Instant Pot. I lock the lid in place and set it up
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