Learn how to best cook this adaptable grain.

By Isadora Baum
July 16, 2020
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Rice is super versatile and it's the perfect grain for acting as a main or a side dish. However, rice needs a certain texture to taste great and hold up to any sauces, seasonings, and hearty ingredients it's used with. And it's pretty easy to mess up rice in terms of cooking technique, as different grains require different washing and cooking methods.

Here are a few mistakes to avoid and what to do instead to get that fluffy, delicious rice you're looking for:

Not Washing Long Grain Rice

If you have a long grain rice, like white and brown rice, Jasmine, and Basmati, you want to make sure you wash the rice before cooking. "Rinsing rice under cold water through a fine-mesh sieve helps remove excess starch and chemicals that were left over after processing," says Sofia Norton, RD. Ce Bian, Chef at Roka Akor in Chicago, adds, "The best way is always to soak the rice for 30 mins after washing and before cooking. The rice and water are 1:1, with 1000ml water to 1000g rice, but after the rice is soaked, the water should be reduced to 800ml."

Washing Short Grain Rice

If you're using a short grain rice, like the type you'd find in sushi rolls or a risotto, you don't want to wash it. "When making risotto or sticky rice for sushi, you will want to skip the rinse since the starch in short-grain varieties results in a creamy or sticky texture you're looking for in most dishes," says Norton.

Cooking on a High Flame

Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to rice. "Never try to speed up rice cooking by boiling it over high flame," says Norton. "Low and slow is the way to go with rice since this keeps the grains intact and prevents burning." And you don't want grains to get stuck together when you're cooking, as you'll lose that loose, fluffy texture you want.

Not Soaking Aromatic Rice

"Basmati, jasmine, and pecan rice get their distinct aroma from a chemical called 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline. This chemical tends to degrade with longer cooking time," says Norton. Because of this, you'll want to soak the rice first for about half an hour, as it'll help you cook this rice in a shorter amount of time while still getting the right texture.

Stirring It Too Much

While you might need to stir pasta and soup, let the spoon go easy on the rice. "Most rice does best when left alone whilst cooking," says Norton. "That means no stirring and lifting of the lid, especially with Basmati or glutinous rice varieties," she says. And when it's done, don't just start plating it and digging in. "Allow the rice to sit and rest at least 15 mins after cooking in the pot or rice cooker," says Bian. This lets it rest and lightly steam to fluffy perfection.

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