Brazilians love their rice, and I’m no different. My favorite hands down still is white rice but sometimes I do like to vary a bit.
As we discussed on this post, the basic preparation of almost all rice types in Brazil is pretty similar. We almost always sauté a couple cloves of minced garlic in a little oil (some people also use diced onions), pearl the rice, season with salt, cover with water, let it cook and then boom – done! Sounds super delicious, right? But what else makes a delicious rice? The texture.
Do you have a preference between white or brown rice? Lave a comment below and let me know!
Here’s the deal. I’ve cooked a couple thousand batches of rice in my life, both at home and professionally, and not all batches came out perfect. To this day, when I am cooking in a different kitchen, with a different stove and different equipment I have to re-test/re-adapt my rice cookery to that new environment, which means there is a little more to just the liquid to rice ratio dilemma.
How to properly cook rice remains one of the top questions I get asked as a chef. I always answer by saying that cooking any rice well, is like riding a bike. It may be a little frustrating in the beginning, but after you find your balance and get the hang of it, it’s all fun and yum! Going through the initial weirdness is the learning part, you just have hang in there!
First Things First
What you need to understand before you cook rice is the fact that there are more variables than just the liquid ratio deal. As noted in this other post, the key things that will vary from rice to rice that will make or break your finished product are, starch level and whether to wash your rice or not, rice:liquid ratio, cooking times and where you cook it.
Check the Step by Step below for detailed notes!!
I always, always, always 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. But theeeeeen, I suggest you subtract about 1/4 – 1/2 cup of liquid from the recommended package amount. Yes, my friends…. you need to ‘learn the rules’ only to break them! So, cook that way, and when most or all the water has been absorbed, test/try it and see if the rice is cooked. If the rice is all the way cooked great! If it is firm but it still has a little bite, or is feeling a liiiiiiiitle bit underdone, also great, actually. Turn off the heat and let the rice sit covered – the steam and residual heat should help the rice cook through without overcooking it or turning it into mush.
If the rice is still too underdone, add about a couple of tablespoons of water, cover and repeat the process. This is your test phase, your little scientist you! So take good notes on your own discoveries, especially how much water you ended up using. Then just repeat that going forward.
I know it sounds like… whaaaat is all this madness…..!!? But trust me! Like I said, it’s like riding a bike, and while you are learning you might end up with undercooked rice until you have properly adjusted to your own environment – so, start with a small test batch and be patient. This is important because even the pan where 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 and are happy, maintain that same environment to reproduce the same results (proper ratio, attention to temp, similar pots and pans, and stick to the brands of rice you love). You can do this!!
Of course you can just boil the rice like pasta, like our Saveur friends do, which is awesome! At the end of the day, I just want you to be happy, you know. Except that, cooking it this way sautéing with aromatics comes aaaaaaafter your rice is all cooked – delicious but different 🙂
Now the Step by Step for Delicious Rice
Ok, so, the only rice I ever wash is long grain white rice. In my experience, there really is no need to wash brown rice. It really makes no difference to the end result. Does it hurt to wash it…? Nah… do you need to tho…? Also nah… Wash it if you want, but I promise you don’t really have to.
So yeah… put the olive oil in the hot pan, and then add the garlic… Smell the magic in the air…
Add the rice and the salt and give it a stir…
Add the liquid as we discussed above… Recommended package amount minus about 1/4 – 1/2 cup
Bring it to a boil…
Reduce the heat, cover with a tight lid and let it simmer until the water has been absorbed. Don’t peak (kinda why a glass lid is a good idea at least while you are learning) — you need all that steam trapped in there doing all the work for you!
Please Note: This step is really important for 2 reasons. If you don’t reduce from boil to simmer, the water will evaporate quicker than the rice can absorb it, and you can end up with burnt and undercooked rice – yikes!! Which means, by cooking slower, not only you are allowing the rice to absorb more liquid, but you are also trapping more steam inside of the pan, which is a huuuuuuuuuge thing in rice making. Just be careful, if you cook too low (flat water), you can end up with soggy rice. The temperature needs to be just right and hold a steady simmer.
Ok… you can take a peak when it looks like the water has been absorbed. But fast because remember steam is gold!! Do a little taste test to check for doneness… go, go, go!
All of this happens super fast because we don’t want to risk having precious steam go away:
Water gone *check*, taste test *check*. In the case of the photo below, the rice was firm but still had a little bite, feeling a liiiiiiiitle bit underdone. So, lid back on, turn off the heat and just let the rice pot sit covered for at least another ~10 mins.
Please note: In this step, if the rice is still too underdone, add a couple of tablespoons of water, cover and repeat the process.
Uncover and let it breathe a few minutes, then serve!!
Wasn’t this fun and super worth it!!! 🙂
Make it and please, please, please let me know how it turns out and if you have any questions!!