Why You Should Never Boil Rice: The Right Way To Cook Rice According To An Expert Chef

‘How to cook rice’ is a popular search among netizens and many don’t know the best way to get the perfect rice every time.

Too much water and you could end up with a mushy mess, and cooking it for too long can leave you with a layer of burnt rice all the way to the bottom of the pan. And that’s not to mention that there are different types of rice that have slightly different cooking requirements. Fortunately, rice expert and chef Peter Sidwell shared his top tips for making beautiful, fluffy rice every time, and how there’s only one variety of rice that needs boiling.

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How to cook basmati rice

«Basmati is an aromatic long-grain rice that is often used in Indian cooking,» said Peter. «It’s light and fragrant, making it the perfect partner for spicy dishes to soak up those amazing flavors.»

1. Use the correct ratio: The correct ratio of rice to water for basmati is 1:1½. So if you’re cooking enough for two people, use one cup (200g) of rice in 1½ cups (375ml) of water.

2. Use the absorption method: This involves adding water and rice to a pot and simmering until the rice absorbs all of the liquid.

3. Use a skillet lid: A well-fitting lid helps keep all the heat and steam inside the pot, cooking the grains evenly and effectively.

4. Simmer for 12-15 minutes – smaller portions will be ready in 12, but if you are cooking for guests it can take up to 15 minutes.

5. Don’t lift the lid: Don’t be tempted to peek and lift the lid, steam needs to remain trapped inside to work its magic.

6. Let stand for 10 minutes – Remove the saucepan from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes, with the lid on.

How to cook brown rice

Peter explained: “Brown rice is a whole grain. It’s whole grain because it contains both the bran and the germ of the grain, and these extra parts make it tougher and chewier than white rice.»

Use the right ratio: For every cup (200g) of brown rice you’re cooking, use 8 cups (2 liters) of water. Brown rice needs a little more water to soften than other types of rice.

Try the boiling method: Brown rice can be cooked using the absorption method, but some find that the boiling method is best. This involves boiling the beans in a pot of water until cooked through and then draining them. Think of it like boiling pasta.

Leave the saucepan uncovered: If you’re using the boiling method, skip the lid of the saucepan and keep it uncovered while you boil.

Boil for 30 minutes – keep the temperature constant so the pot doesn’t boil over and fill with more water if it seems to be running low.

Strain the grains through a strainer: After the grains have cooked, drain the pot using a fine mesh strainer or strainer.

Let it sit for 10 minutes: after draining, add the beans back to the now empty pot, cover with a lid and rest before serving.

How to cook jasmine rice

«A favorite pairing for many East Asian dishes, jasmine rice is a long-grain white rice,» said Peter. «Often mistaken for regular white rice, you can detect (or smell!) jasmine by its scent.»

1. Use the right ratio: Use the 1:1¼ ratio of rice and water: one cup (200 g) of rice to 1¼ cups (310 ml) of water to serve two.

2. Use the absorption method: Let the jasmine rice simmer with the lid on so the grains can absorb the water.

3. Use a pan lid: to keep all the heat and steam inside the pot.

4. Simmer for 12 minutes – Jasmine rice is naturally softer than other types of rice, so it won’t need to cook as long as other types of rice.

5. Do not lift the lid: keep all the heat and steam inside the pot to help cook the rice.

6. Let it rest for 10 minutes: rest with the lid on and turn off the heat for 10 minutes.

How to cook pilau rice

“Pilau is a simple rice dish with a vibrant yellow color; the distinctive golden hue comes from natural spices that enrich the beans with a smooth, savory flavor,” revealed the expert.

1. Choose your aromatics ? Pilau rice is prepared by cooking basmati rice with a selection of aromatics. Every chef has their preferences, but onion, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cloves, turmeric, and bay leaves are common choices.

2. Do you use the correct proportion? Use a 1:2 ratio of rice to water when making basmati for pilau rice.

3. Fry the aromatics first? Always start by frying the aromatics in butter, oil, or ghee before adding the basmati grains and boiling water.

4. Cover with a lid ? Use a lid and the absorption method to cook the rice for 10-15 minutes on low heat or until the water has been absorbed.

5. Rest for five minutes ? Let the pan sit for five minutes off the heat, with the lid on.

How to cook sticky rice

“Sticky rice is also known as ‘Thai sticky’, ‘glutinous’ or ‘sweet’ rice,” said Peter. “And as you can probably guess, it has a sticky, glue-like texture when cooked.

«This makes it a dream to mix into dumplings and latch onto the flavors in lots of sweet and savory dishes.»

1. Soak grains before cooking ? Glutinous rice grains should be soaked overnight or up to 24 hours before cooking. This helps soften the outer layer of the grain, giving it a tender but distinctly chewy texture.

2. Use the right ratio: Use a 1:1¾ rice to water ratio with one cup (200g) of rice and 1¾ cups (425ml) of water.

3. Try the absorption method, but leave the pot lid on an angle – To cook sticky rice, place the lid on the pot at an angle so the pot is partially covered. The steam should be able to escape through the small gap.

4. Simmer for 10 minutes: keep the temperature low until all the water has been absorbed.

5. Let it rest for 10 minutes: open the lid so that it completely covers the pan and leave it for 10 minutes.

In terms of how long you can keep the rice after making it, Peter said: “Safely cooled and cooked rice should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for no more than 24 hours.

«More time and the potential growth of bacteria can pose a health risk, even if it has been refrigerated.»

And for anyone who wants to reheat rice, Peter said, “It’s not dangerous to reheat rice: it just needs to cool quickly after cooking.

“When reheating it, be sure to spread the rice out; don’t try to heat it in a big pile.

“You want it to be on a plate and in as thin a layer as possible. That way it can be heated quickly and efficiently.”