Yup, there are many alternatives to white rice out there, but still, if you ask me to choose, white rice it is! Don’t get me wrong, I love quinoa, brown rice, barley and stuff very much… but white rice is by far my favorite.
Brazil is one of the world’s top consumer of white rice, and a lot of our traditional cuisine, uses it as a side dish or as part of the dish itself. My mom never really used any other rice to prepare our meals when I was growing up. When she attempted to use a parboiled rice, we made sure to voice how “meh” it was. We still ate it. I mean, in my house, you eat what momma serves. Recently, black rice, red rice, brown rice, quinoa, and other grains have become a lot more popular as people become conscientious about their health benefits.
Generally, regardless of type, most rice used as a side dish in Brazil is prepared the same way. We almost always sauté a couple cloves of minced garlic in a little oil (some people also use diced onions), pearl whatever rice we decided to go with, season with salt, cover with water, let it cook and then boom – done! Easy huh? Make it, take a picture, and post it on IG #CookingWithAline
Ready? Me too… let’s make rice, then!
Wash the rice using a strainer until the water runs clear, then let it draining the water for a few mins
Meanwhile, heat up the oil, throw the minced garlic in there. Mmmm smell that?
You do??? Well, add the rice then, man! Don’t forget the salt… Stir a little bit… yeah, you’re doing good! Oh, and by the way, this part of the process is called ‘pearling.’ See, how the rice is starting to look a bit “glassy” and shiny, with a little spec of white in the middle? (not in the picture, but I hope your rice looks like I just described… I mean, I tried to capture it…)
Add the liquid and bring to a quick boil
Reduce to a simmer…
Cover and let it cook until all water has been absorbed… No peaking!!! Get out of there…
Ok… now that it looks like the water has been absorbed you can look. Weeee! But fast because you want to keep the steam in… Hurry!!! Check to see if the water is gone… go, go, go!
K, water gone! Now cover again, turn off the heat and let the rice pot sit covered for another ~10 mins… Just doin’ it’s thang…
Uncover and give it a few mins to breathe fresh air (now we want the steam to go away… bye steam! You can go now… thanks for the help!)
Fluff with a fork… (Stop playing with it…. I know it’s tempting!)
Now, take a moment to congratulate yourself… you just made rice. Congrats!!
Ok, I’ll stop… Just go eat!
Here are the brands I recommend:
Tio João – I don’t know a single Brazilian person who doesn’t prefer this brand of rice over any other. You can find it at any Brazilian market in your area (in LA this is where I go), or at Amazon
Lundberg – I find this somewhat close to Tio João, although it is a tad bit starchier. You can find this pretty much anywhere, particularly at Whole Foods or at Amazon
1Tbsp of oil (I recommend canola, vegetable or olive oil)
Salt TT (I recommend ½ tsp to a tsp per cup of rice)
Cooking liquid *see note below (water, sometimes I use stock)
Wash the rice using a strainer until the water is clear, then let it drain the water off for a few mins
In a medium sauce pan, heat up the oil
Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and light gold
Add the rice, season with the salt and stir
Pearl the rice stirring (cook it until the outer part is “translucent”, and the center has a white dot)
Add the liquid and bring to a boil
Reduce to a simmer, cover and let it cook until all water has been absorbed (try not to peak too often – we don’t want to lose steam that’s precious for the next step!)
Turn off the heat and let the rice pot sit covered for another ~10 mins – steam
Fluff with a fork, and serve
This recipe can be used to cook many types of rice, however, a few key things will vary from rice to rice. Here are a couple of factors you need to keep in mind before you get cooking - whether to wash your rice or not, rice:liquid ratio and cooking times.
Ok so, if you ask me if you should or should not wash your rice before you cook it, I’ll say, well, it depends on the rice. What is important to know is, rinsing the rice before you cook it, will wash off of the starch that gives it that sticky texture after its cooked. Some rice types have more starch than others, and sometimes, you do want wetter, starchier, creamier rice, like say for a risotto, while at other times you want a firmer, fluffier rice. My general recommendation is, go ahead and rinse medium to long grain white rice as it helps prevent ‘sticking’, and leave all other rice as is.
Now the rice:liquid ratio and the cooking times are directly related. When we need more liquid for a particular type of rice, we will also need more time to cook it.
First things first, the amount of liquid you use will also have an influence on whether your rice will get sticky or soggy. Most people (even in culinary school - sigh) will broadly state that white rice ratio is about 2:1, meaning for each 1 cup of dry rice, you need about 2 cups of cooking liquid (water or stock). I disagree. Depending on the brand (and type) of rice you are working with, (or again whether you are using long grain or short grain), this 2:1 ratio can yield very sticky results. I recommend taking a quick look at the package instructions to see their recommended liquid amounts and cooking times for the type of rice you are about to cook. Then, I also recommend you subtract about ¾ - ½ cup of liquid of the recommended package amount. When all the water has been absorbed, turn off the heat and let the rice sit covered - the steam and residual heat should help the rice cook through without overcooking it. The bad part of doing this is that, you might end up with undercooked rice until you have properly adjusted the ratio – so, start with a small test batch. This is important because even the vessel in which you choose to cook your rice, how well it is covered while you are cooking and how well you manage the heat, matters for the final result. When you are finished testing, maintain that same environment to reproduce the same results (proper ratio, attention to temp, similar cooking vessels).