You Really Should Know How to Cook Rice.

220px-Oryza_sativa_-_Köhler–s_Medizinal-Pflanzen-232Image via Wikipedia

I grew up eating a lot of rice because my dad has celiac disease, which means he really can’t eat gluten. Not, like, he doesn’t eat gluten because it helped him lose weight, reduce bloat, and clear up his skin when he stopped eating gluten. Like HE WILL DIE if he eats gluten (but not immediately.) It’s not an allergy; it’s an autoimmune condition, and it’s totally legit. He can tell you great stories (complete with voices and hand motions) of having his small intestine biopsied WHILE HE WAS FULLY AWAKE. Good times.

Anyway, this was supposed to be about rice. Well, one of the things that happened because my dad had to be gluten-free in the days before you could get gluten-free pasta and bread and cupcakes with the swirly white frosting is that we ate rice a LOT. And we never had a rice cooker. And we never used Minute Rice or any other sort of ‘convenient’ rice product.

(Because the thing about rice? It’s already convenient.)

Here is how I make plain rice:

  • place 1 cup of raw white rice in a small pot with a tight-fitting lid
  • add 1 and 1/2 cups of cool, fresh water and a pinch of salt. Just a pinch. If you have nasty-tasting tap water, use bottled or filtered water to cook the rice.
  • over medium-high heat, bring to a boil
  • as soon as it boils, STIR thoroughly, reduce heat to low, and cover.
  • DO NOT uncover for ANY reason for 15 minutes.
  • remove from heat, KEEP COVERED, and let rest for 5 minutes
  • when you spoon out the rice, do so gently, fluffing the grains as you sort of scrape the surface of the rice

I hope I didn’t make that seem complicated. It’s really super-easy. You can easily double, triple, or quadruple this. Rice is a great side to such a variety of dishes. I like it equally well with tofu as with beef stew.

(Also, there’s nothing better to give to a person with tummy woes.)

13 thoughts on “You Really Should Know How to Cook Rice.

  1. I will be following your instructions for cooking rice soon! My kids LOVE plain rice. I recently brought home a 10lb bag — but I’ve never been satisfied with the way my rice turns out. Thank you, Rachel!

  2. If I remember correctly, mom & I learned to cook rice properly from that battered copy of the More With Less Cookbook that is still on the kitchen shelf.

    Because of the enormous Asian and Caribbean populations in our old neighborhood we ate a lot of rice right from the start, which made my later restriction to GF just a wee bit easier to swallow (cheesy pun intended).

    There was nothing easy about the enhanced interrogation techniques whereby the diagnosis was finally made, though..!

      1. Ah yes, how could I ever forget– “Kip svallowing, kip svallowing, beary good, beary good..”

        At least 20 to 25 feet of it. And with nothing more than a schpritz of some sort of Cloraseptic spray! Unbelievable. He’s probably on staff at Gitmo now.

        And of course there was the lower-GI series “OMG I have to go NOW!!!” dance while waiting OUT IN THE HALLWAY OF A BUSY BROOKLYN HOSPITAL while wearing nothing but one of those wretched little gowns.

        Precious moments indeed…

  3. My son’s first grade teacher had a class project on rice, because he said it was one of those foods that can be found in just about every culture around the world. He asked parents to prepare a rice dish form their family background for the kids to share, and my wife made jook. Other parents made pilaf or rice balls or rice krispie squares and a bunch of other yummy stuff.

    I know how yummy they were because I went in to help out in the classroom that day. I also wrote a song for the kids to sing called “Big Bowl of Rice” that went from China to Peru to a bunch of other countries extolling rice’s virtues. I can’t remember all the lyrics off the top of my head, but the chorus went something like this:

    That big bowl of rice
    I might even eat it twice
    It tastes so yummy when it sits in my tummy
    That big bowl of rice!

    (CDs of today’s performance are available in the lobby.)

  4. We had the privilege to hear your dad tell some of that story and we got a good laugh for sure. Poor guy! Anyhow when my sister got married she cooked rice and she said she had to keep putting it into pot after pot because she had used to much, she doesn’t like it to this day. So when you said we could double it and such I thought of her. I ordered your book Eat with Joy and wondering did you put the rice recipe in there.

  5. I forgot to mention that I found Mrs. Sherwoods recipe for rice pudding that everyone loved, but I had no luck making so I will try it again.

  6. Getting back to the rice– as opposed to medical war stories sure to spoil the appetite– one of my favorite quick tricks has always been to cook the rice as above, but with the addition of chicken bullion (generally one cube per cup of dry rice), a tablespoon or two of olive oil, and plenty of Italian seasoning. Sometimes I’ll add some onion & garlic (of course!) as well.

    Back in the days before decent GF pasta it was an easy way to get my southern Italian fix.

    1. And about chicken broth and rice, here’s another easy way to cook rice.

      Put a stick of butter in a 9×9 baking dish and set it in a 350 oven. Chop half a large onion, add to melted butter and let cook for a bit. Heat 16 oz. of chicken broth on the stove. Once onion is translucent, add a cup of rice and stir so it gets buttery and oniony. Then add the hot broth, cover the dish with foil (or a glass lid if the dish has one) and bake 20 minutes. Then eat it.

      I wish I could take credit for that recipe, but it’s based on the way Joy of Cooking (1964) says to do baked rice. I found it one day about 20 years ago when my wife was running late and asked me to start dinner. We’ve been making it regularly ever since.

  7. Sometimes I’d also throw in some frozen veggies– usually peas & carrots and maybe a bit of corn– in with the rice, and replace the Italian seasoning with one of those various poultry seasoning mixes that I’d almost always find on the spice shelf.

  8. Oh, thanks, Rachel! Rice is one of those things that should be easy to make, and yet I often manage to destroy it. I think I just need to practice with a good method and let it become a bit of a ritual, like kneading and rising bread. Looking forward to trying it!

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