Have you ever thought about how prepping rice before you cook it influences the end result? If you’re like most people, you probably haven’t. However, what you do with rice before it goes into the pot determines flavor, texture, and stickiness.
Perfectly prepared rice is loose, moderately soft, and does not stick to the dish it was prepared in. Cooking rice on the stove is a simple process, but preparing the rice before cooking it is very important.
Types of Rice
The following are some of the distinctions between different types of rice. Different lengths of rice affect how you should cook them. Rice is divided into long-grain, medium-grain, and short-grain based on its length and width ratio when compared to other types of rice.
Like it sounds, long-grain rice is the rice group with the longest length, and it’s typically slimmer than the rest. It naturally has less starch content and will be less sticky and fluffier when cooked.
Examples: American white or brown long-grain rice, Basmati rice, and Jasmine rice
Although shorter than long-grain rice, medium-grain rice is still quite a bit longer than it is wide (about 2 times longer). It’s the in-between for basically everything: not as sticky as short-grain but stickier than long-grain, more starch than long-grain but not as much as short-grain. It has more of a creamy texture.
Examples: Bomba rice, Japanese rice, and Arborio rice
Short-grain rice consists of plump, little oval grains whose length isn’t much more than its width. With the most starch content, it’s also the stickiest. Because of that, you’ll see this type of rice used for dishes like sushi.
Examples: American short-grain brown rice, Baldo rice, Japanese short-grain rice, and Sushi rice
Preparing Rice (Before You Cook)
There are a couple of easy things you can do before cooking your rice to help make this dish delicious.
Step 1: Rinse
To prevent the rice from sticking to the pot you cook it in, you should rinse it beforehand. By rinsing, you remove impurities as well as excess starch, which will make the rice less sticky. Put the amount of rice you want to cook in a big bowl and add water. Quickly move your fingers through the rice. You’ll see the water become cloudy.
Dump the water out and add more clean water. This time do more of a kneading motion with your hands. Once the water is cloudy, dump it out, and rinse the rice this way again. Each rinsing cycle should take less than a minute.
Continue rinsing until the water is clear.
Now strain the rice, and let it sit for a few minutes (up to 20).
Step 2: Toast (Optional)
In some kitchens, it is common to fry dry rice in 1 teaspoon of oil or butter before cooking. It also helps prevent grains from sticking due to excessive starch.
Put the oil or butter in the pot you intend to cook the rice in.
Add the rice and toast at medium heat for about 5 minutes. You’ll start to smell a nutty aroma, and the rice will become tan.
Step 3: Add Seasonings
Add spices to the rice before cooking. Since there is no stirring during cooking, this helps the season the dish evenly. Depending on the taste, add ½-1 teaspoon of salt to each cup of dry rice. A little oil, pepper, and other spices can be added directly to the water.
Perfect Stovetop Rice
Step 1: Add Water to Pot
The longer grain of rice, the more water it needs. On average, you will need 2 cups of water to cook 1 cup of rice. Add the seasonings of your choice to the water if you haven’t already.
Tip: Plan on ½ cup of dry rice per person to help figure out how much rice you need to cook.
Step 2: Boil Water
Set the stove burner to medium-high to high heat and let the water heat up until it starts boiling. Adding a little salt causes a chemical reaction that will get the water boiling sooner.
Step 3: Add Rice to Pot
Once the water is boiling, add the rice to the pot. Stir it a little to make sure all the grains are covered by the water.
Step 4: Reduce Heat to Low and Cover the Pot
Immediately after adding the rice, use a lid to cover the pot and turn the heat down to low. The rice will need to continue cooking for 18-20 minutes.
Step 5: Keep Lid on Pot until Rice is Done Cooking
Although it’s tempting to remove the lid and check on the rice, it’s best to leave the lid on for the entire time the rice is cooking. This is because, even though rice absorbs most of the water it’s cooked, the steam from the evaporating water also helps cook the rice. Therefore, it is important not to take the lid off the pot during cooking so that hot steam is not released. This also prevents excess water being left in the pot. This is good not only for the cooking itself, but it helps keep the nutrients in the rice instead of some of them being lost in the extra water.
The End Result
You will get rice that will be soft but not too sticky. It will be evenly cooked, it won’t be burned or stuck to the sides of the pot, the grains will not be mushy, and it will be evenly seasoned. You’ll have created delicious rice that can be eaten by itself or served as a side.
How to Cook Rice
- 2 quart pot with lid
- 1 cup dry, uncooked rice
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups water
- Add Water to Pot and bring to a boil
- Add rice to boiling water
- Reduce heat to low and cover with lid
- Keep covered until rice is finished cooking (about 15 to 20 minutes)
- Remove from heat and stir to fluff up the rice and ensure it is cooked throughout. Cover and let sit for a few minutes then serve hot.