Four Secrets to Perfect Rice Every Time!

You might think that cooking a pot of humble white rice wouldn't be so difficult. But how many times have you attempted to make some rice only to have it turn into a great big sticky ball or burnt the heck out of it? You follow the recipe found on the bag or the box, using the DSCF1301.jpgCredit: measurements for rice and water and butter and salt, but it still never turns out quite right. It's either too sticky, too dry, too hard,  too mushy, or you burn it. Or if the consistency is fine, it tastes bland, or too salty.

The reason your rice isn't cooked to perfection every time is not because you don't know how to follow directions; it is because the majority of recipes for cooking white rice are just plain wrong. How do we know this? Because when we follow the recipe precisely, step-by-step, using exact measurements, and cook it according to instructions, it still turns into a big sticky mess!

So, what to do? I am going to give you the "secrets" to making perfect rice. I learned these secrets while living in South America for seven years. Believe me, they make a lot of rice in South America. I would venture to guess that in South America they eat as much rice, if not more, than in China. I mean, they eat rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you didn't learn how to make rice while living there you were pretty much screwed. But first, you are going to have to trust me on a few important instructions that will make or break the success of your rice making attempts.

  • Secret Number One: Don't wash the rice prior to cooking it. That's correct, you heard me right - DO NOT WASH THE RICE. Pick through it if you must to find stray pebbles (although I never do this), shake it in a strainer, go over it with a fine tooth comb, but do not wash it. If you wash it you will end up with sticky rice. Trust me.
  • Secret Number Two: Do not boil the water before adding the rice. Most recipes call for boiling water. Skip this part and just use cold water right from the tap. Again, trust me on this. It is imperative to the success of your rice.
  • Secret Number Three: Do not cover the pan during cooking. This is very important. You will cover the pan but only after the rice has absorbed most of the water. Leave the cover off until instructed to put it on (see directions below).
  • Secret Number Four: This is the most important secret - DO NOT STIR while cooking. I repeat, DO NOT STIR while cooking. Stirring will guarantee a big, sticky mess.

So on to actually making perfect rice. Gather up your ingredients: Rice, water, salt, garlic powder, oil, one green onion - roots removed, cut into three or four pieces (optional).

To make enough rice for four servings measure 1 cup of long grain white rice into a 2 quart sauce pan. (Use plain white rice, not parboiled rice, not instant rice, just plain long grain white rice. I use Shop Rite brand and it comes out very nice, thank you. You can use whatever brand you want. But we are talking about plain old white rice here - not brown rice or basmati or jasmine or any other fancy rice. They have their own secret cooking methods, which are not included in this article.) 

Measure 2 cups of water straight from the tap and add it to the rice in the saucepan. Add one teaspoon of salt and a few shakes of garlic powder. Add the green onion (optional). Then add about one tablespoon of oil - I use olive oil. You can use vegetable oil or canola oil, but since I do not use those types of oils in my diet I use olive oil or coconut oil. I don't like to use butter. I have nothing against butter; in fact, I use butter in everything and on everything. Except rice. Butter isn't oily enough and the rice comes out stickier when you use butter. So if  you substitute butter for oil and you get sticky rice, don't blame me. And especially don't use margarine. In fact, if you are using margarine at all in your diet you need to do something about that. Seriously.

Place the sauce pan on high heat. Then, and this is very important, do not leave the kitchen! Do not leave the rice unattended! You need to be right there when the water starts to boil so that 4185304239_27d9521923_o.jpgCredit: can turn the heat down to low. Do this as soon as the water begins to boil. But, do not cover the rice! Stifle your urge to put that cover on the pot, even if you think that you should be covering the pot. If you had made perfect rice in the past from covering the pot you wouldn't be searching the INTERNET on how to make perfect rice now, so it is imperative that you follow this very important step: Do. Not. Cover. the. Pot! Comprende?

After you have turned the heat down to low you still need to stay put because the rice isn't finished. (I didn't say making perfect rice was a carefree experience. But relax, it's almost over.) Watch the rice carefully, and as soon as almost (and I mean almost, not all) all of the water has been absorbed by the rice you can cover the pot. Aren't your relieved? But don't stir it! As a matter of fact, I don't want you to even have a spoon in the vicinity of the rice on the stove because I know it goes against the grain (pun intended, sorry, couldn't help myself) to NOT stir the cooking rice. However, you are not allowed to put a spoon anywhere near that pot of rice until it is done and you are ready to serve it. Promise  you will follow this step!

Now, after you have covered the pot you still cannot leave the kitchen because the rice can still burn at this point. Once covered make sure the heat is all the way down, on the keep warm setting if your stove has it, and let it just sit and absorb the rest of the water. That should take another five minutes or so. Then you can remove it from the heat. Leave the cover on, and finish making the rest of your dinner.

To recap, in case you weren't paying attention:

  • Measure one cup of rice and two cups of cold tap water.
  • Place both in a saucepan.
  • Add one teaspoon salt, a few shakes of garlic powder, and one tablespoon oil and the optional green onion.
  • Place on high heat until the water begins to boil.
  • Turn heat down to low immediately after the water starts to boiFood_Plate_7006.JPGCredit:
  • Do not cover. Do not stir.
  • When almost all the water has been absorbed by the rice turn the heat down to the keep warm setting and cover the pot. Do not stir.
  • Remove from heat and keep covered until ready to serve. At this point your rice may come into contact with a spoon.

Enjoy your perfect rice!