There are many different sorts of rice; among them, the parboiled one that I do not recommend, regardless of the brand. Some people may like it but for me this is something other than rice. The taste is awful and it seems to never be cooked. To have good rice, use Indian, Thai or Asian rice; or any other rice that is not parboiled. Italian rice is very good as well. According to the rice you buy, you will need to use a specific cooking method; for example, Asian rice is not good for making risotto, Italian rice is not good for serving with Chinese cooking.
Boiled rice: The simplest way to cook rice.
Note: This is a very simple way to cook rice but not the best because the rice, boiled in a large quantity of water, is “washed” and most of the taste is lost in the water. Look below to see my recommended methods for cooking rice. The methods to cook the rice are different according to the sort of rice you are using.
1- Bring a big quantity of water to the boil. (8 to 10 times the volume of rice), together with 1 tbsp of salt for each 2 pints of water used.
2- Add the rice and bring back to the boil, on a high heat, stirring frequently.
3- Reduce the heat to a low to medium heat, to keep boiling until the rice is cooked. Stir occasionally to make sure the rice is not sticking to the pot.
4- When cooked, (about 15 minutes, maybe less according to the specific rice you are using), strain and serve immediately, plain or with butter or olive oil.
5- If you are not serving the rice immediately, cool the rice in cold water, strain and store until you are ready to serve it.
(The rice can be very easily reheated in a microwave oven. You can also use it to prepare fried rice)
Pilaff: An alternative way to cook rice (use Basmati rice for instance for this recipe)
This method is called riz Pilaff (or pilaw) in French cuisine.
1- Take an ovenproof dish, put on a medium heat with one tbsp of butter for 2 cups of rice.
2- Add some chopped onion and sweat* in butter.
3- Add the rice; stir it in to the butter with the onion, for one or two minutes, until the rice becomes translucent.
4- Add 11/2 the volume of water, together with some salt, pepper, and a whole garlic clove if you like, (this is optional).
5- Bring to the boil, cover with aluminium foil, put in the oven at 200°C (400° F), and cook for between 14 and 17 minutes, until done. It should be ready when all the water has been absorbed.
*When sweating the onions you can add a choice of whole spices (not ground). Sweat together with the onions, then add the rice and cook together. You will have to remove the spices when eating or before you serve the rice. This takes a little time, but the rice cooked in this way is really very delicious.
Risotto: To use Italian risotto rice it is better to cook it the risotto way.
Here is the basic way to do it.
1- Sweat chopped onions in some butter.
2- Add the rice, (“arborio”, “vialone”, “carnaroli”…; (about 3 ounces per person).
3- Stir until the rice becomes translucent.
4- Add dry white wine to the level of the rice. Cook until almost all the wine is evaporated.
5- According to the recipe you are preparing, (if your risotto will be made plain, with sea food, meat, vegetables etc.) add fish stock, vegetable or chicken broth; (for 12 oz of rice add about 1 pint of the stock, you will add more later).
6- Bring to the boil on a medium heat, stirring frequently. Add salt and pepper.
7- Keep cooking the rice, adding more liquid when necessary. (The quantity of liquid necessary to use in risotto is difficult to say as different rice brands will absorb more or less liquid.)
8- Immediately after the rice has absorbed the previous amount of liquid, add more liquid, and repeatedly add a little each time, allowing the rice to absorb little by little the liquid.
9- Repeat the process until the rice is cooked, stirring frequently.
10- When done, the risotto should be cooked but a little “al dente”. It should be creamy as well.
11- To finish add grated parmesan and serve immediately.
12- To give more taste, add chopped garlic, cream during the cooking process.
Almost anything can be added in risotto, depending on personal choice; vegetables cut in cubes, sea food, chicken, meat cut in small pieces, cooked before or not, depending if it can be cooked in the risotto itself.
The basic Asian way of cooking rice:
To prepare the rice this way, you can use a rice cooker; this is a wonderful device. It will cook alone and keep the rice warm for hours.
If you do not have a rice cooker:
1- Put one volume of rice (Thai, Basmati etc.) in a pot.
2- Add 11/2 the volume of water, and stir.
3- Put on a medium to high heat.
4- Bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and boil on a low to medium heat until cooked.
5- Serve immediately.
(Make sure the water does not evaporate too much during the cooking. Do not stir the rice during the cooking).
Brown rice can be cooked in the same way as: “Boiled Rice: The simplest way to cook any rice”; except that the rice will need to be cooked for about 1 hour to be ready.
Drain and store like plain rice in the recipe above.