Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Perfect Baked Rice

With all the recipes I've collected below, here is another way I fix rice that we like. Enough for me and Gary and leftovers.
Melt in skillet
- garlic infused ghee
- coconut oil
Rinse and pour in 1/3 c rice
Fry a bit until rice is translucent
Chop one carrot and add to rice
Pour in 2/3 c broth
-season with salt and pepper
Put lid on skillet, bring to boil and simmer on low. After a few minutes add a handful of frozen peas. Cook until rice is absorbed.

Perfect Baked Rice
I'm going to combine this recipe with another I found in a magazine a long time ago. I LOVE LOVE LOVE how this always turns out, as I can never seem to do it right on the stove top. The rice is fluffy and very tender.

I have a little container (6.5 x 4.5x 3 inches) that I use for this and it makes enough for 2 and a small leftover for lunch the next day. It fits perfectly in my toaster oven.

Right in the container, mix:
  • 1/2 cup Jasmine rice
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (any kind)
  • 3/4 cup water or broth
  • Pop it in the toaster oven and set the temp to 400 degrees.
  • Bake it 25 minutes and you can turn off oven and leave it in there until supper.

Have I said that I LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe?  :-)

Stovetop Rice
Okay, so my brother says, Dummy, stove top is easy. Bring rice to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover, and give it 12 minutes. Done! He's right. This rice is also fluffy.

Use CrockPot as a Rice Cooker
--rub 1T butter on the inside of your crockpot stoneware
--put in 1 cup white basmati rice
--stir in 2 cups water and pinch salt
--cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours, checking every 45 minutes or so

I cooked the above batch for 2 hours, 15 minutes and checked on it twice.
Fluffy, lovely rice.  (my crock 1 hr, 45 min, shook it twice)

Non-fluffy rice
This method of cooking rice on the stove results in rice that does not stick together or blow up. Very nice! No need to measure water. 
  1. For short grain brown rice, I use about 2 cups of dry grain and a large 2 quart sauce pan. 
  2. Put the rice in the pot and add cold water until it is almost full. 
  3. Use your hand to swirl the rice around and loosen any dirt and dust. 
  4. When the rice settles back to the bottom, dump the water off the top and repeat. 
  5. Continue to rinse rice until the water is almost perfectly clear, about 4-5 times.
  6. After the last rinse add cold water to your rice until you have at least 3 times the volume of water to rice (err on the side of excess). 
  7. Place the rice and water on the stove and turn the heat on high.
  8. When the rice begins to boil, reduce heat to medium and continue to simmer, uncovered. 
  9. Check on the rice grains occasionally by grabbing a few out with a fork and testing them for tenderness (squish between your fingernails or taste it). Rice becomes opaque when it cooks, so there is no point in checking it while it is still somewhat translucent. 
  10. Once the rice does start to turn opaque, check tenderness every 2-5 minutes. If too much water evaporates and the rice starts to look soupy, you need to add more water. You should add enough water at the beginning to avoid this.
  11. Boil rice until it is almost tender enough to eat.  It is at this point you want to stop the boiling and begin the steaming.
  12. Next drain off the remaining water.
  13. Place the pot with rice back on the burner and reduce the heat to as low as it will go. 
  14. Cover the rice and set a kitchen timer for 5 minutes. 
  15. After 5 minutes turn off the burner and set the timer for another 5 minutes. Do not lift the lid during this process unless you are concerned that you messed up the boiling time and want to check on the doneness. 
  16. After the rice has sat for 5 minutes, remove the lid, fluff with a fork and serve. Put the lid back on if you are going to let the rice cool in the pot.
**If for some reason you think you overcooked the rice when you were boiling it, you can skip the steaming step and just let the drained rice sit covered with the burner off for 5 minutes. If you undershoot, you can always extend the length of the steaming process, but it will take much longer.
**Because rice does take so long to prepare, I like to make large batches and freeze individual servings so that I do not have to wait half an hour for dinner every single night.
**I usually wait until the rice has cooled down substantially before wrapping it in plastic. It is the last thing I do in my after-dinner clean up. To store rice, break off squares of plastic wrap and scoop individual rice servings (1/4-1/2 cup) into the middle. Fold over the plastic, twist the ends and tie them in a half knot so that the rice is in a ball, as shown. Put rice balls in a freezer bag and into the freezer.
**To thaw, remove a rice ball from the freezer and allow to sit on counter for a few minutes until you can untie the knot without leaving little pieces of plastic stuck in the folds of rice. Place unwrapped frozen rice ball in a small bowl and microwave on high for 1-2 minutes. I like to use our microwave cover for this, but you have to figure out for yourself what works best in your own microwave.

These I have yet to try:

Coconut Oil

Sudhair James, an undergraduate student at the College of Chemical Sciences in Sri Lanka, along with his supervising professor Dr. Pushparajah Thavarajah, found that adding a lipid (in this case, coconut oil) to rice when cooking and then rapidly cooling the rice immediately afterward changed the composition of the rice.
The addition of the fat during cooking transformed most of its digestible starches — which are the less desirable kind, because they easily turn into sugar — into resistance starch — the more desirable kind, because it takes the body much longer to break them down.
This simple addition actually reduces the number of calories in rice by 10 to 12 percent, and it has a potential to reduce calories further, up to 50 percent.

How to Use This Method

Their method is dead simple:
  1. Bring the cooking water for your rice to a boil. 
  2. Add 3 percent of the weight of the rice in coconut oil.
  3. Then cook the rice as usual. 
  4. When it is done, cool it in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. The oil interacts with the starch and "changes its architecture," explained James in an article in the Washington Post recently. "Chilling the rice then helps foster the conversion of starches. The result is a healthier serving, even when you heat it back up."
James and Thavarajah have tested this method on 38 of the higher-starch rices available in Sri Lanka, and they believe that the results will only get better as they test the remaining, lower-starch rices.

The ratio between rice : water is perhaps the single, most confusing information on cooking sushi rice.  Most recipes out there ranges from 1 : 1.1 (too much water) to 1 : 1.5 (waaaaay too much water!).  But the correct ratio should always, and I mean always, be 1 part rice : 1 part water BY VOLUME.  Always! And when it comes to the right pot, I would highly suggest using a small, heavy-bottomed non-stick pot with clear glass lid.  There is a reason why all rice-cookers uses a non-stick inner-bowl, because when rice sticks (and it will stick), it breaks.  Broken rice = bad rice.  Then, instead of flying blind, the clear glass lid allows you to get a good idea of what’s going on inside.  Also, we don’t want a steam-hole for the lid, so if yours comes with one, simply block it with a damp paper-towel.  So:
Makes about 4 cups cooked rice:
  • 2 cups (400 grams) Asian short-grain white rice, or Japanese sushi rice
  • 2 cups (429 grams) water
UPDATE 2015/08/04:  You may be able to tell that the type of rice used in this particular example, was a typical Asian short-grain rice, which took 15 min in STEP 2.  But if you were using an even stubbier short-grain variety, specifically for making sushi, with a wider and rounder body, then please increase the duration of STEP 2 to 20 min.
* The instruction is for 2 cups of rice only.  Anything more or less by 1/2 cup will require adjustments on the cooking time.
UPDATE 2015/12/1:  Months after I tested this recipe on the gas-stove, I finally had a chance to test it on induction stove, and the heat-setting turned out to be a bit different.  It seems that induction stove requires a slightly higher setting to reach the description of each steps.  In STEP 2, instead of 1~2 for heat-setting (on a scale of 10), induction stove needs around 3~4.  Then for STEP 3, instead of 2~3, induction stove needs around 5~6.  So whatever stove you’re using, adjust the heat-setting to get you to the description for each steps, instead of relying on absolute heat-settings.
STEP 1:  Put the rice in a large sieve, then rinse under running cold water.  Gently rub the rice between your fingers, removing the excess starch, until the water runs clear.  Drain very very well, until the last drop of water seem to have been shaken off, then transfer the rice to heavy-bottomed non-stick pot.  Add the water and give it a stir, then put on the lid (if there’s a steam-hole, block it with a small piece of damp paper-towel.

STEP 2:  Set the pot over the smallest flame that you can keep alive, then set the timer for 15~20 min (please see UPDATE above, for important information).  On the scale of 1~10 for the flame, I’m talking about a 1 or 2 here (see the first photo below).  This is the other mistake that most people make.  You should never ever, and I mean ever, never ever, boil this type of rice!  Never.  It leads to a softer, mushier outer layer of the grains instead of an uniformed texture, and it’s just… I mean… never, ok, just don’t.  By the end of the 15 min, the water should be just right on the verge of coming to a simmer but not yet.  OK?  This process warms the rice evenly, but moreover, it also acts as a pre-soaking step, “blooming” it if you will.  At the end of this step, the rice should look swelled up, but you should still see a thin layer of water above it (see the second photo below).

STEP 3:  Now turn the heat up by just a dial.  I’m talking about going from 1~2, to 2~3 here.  Just one dial up (see the third photo below), then set the timer for another 10 min.  This still won’t boil the water, because yes, you should never.  But you will see a steady stream of steam coming out of the pot, and you may see a bubble here and there at the centre of the pot.  At 5 min, there won’t be any water visible above the rice.  At the end of the 10 min, the steam should have reduced down to a whiff, signalling that most excess water have evaporated.  Good, this is what we want.

STEP 4:  Now turn the heat off completely, and set the timer for another 5 min.  This step completes the cooking-part of it.  By the way, you should not, by any means, open the lid… or stir the rice… or so much so as talking/disturbing the rice at any point during the entire cooking process.  You get me?  Leave.  It.  Alone.

STEP 5:  Finally, you can remove the lid, but careful not to drop the excess water on the lid into the rice.  With wooden spoon or even wooden chopsticks, gently, and I mean gently, fold the rice from the bottom of the pot over the top (without crushing the grains), and repeat a couple more times until the rice is evenly “shuffled”.  Anyone who’s familiar with rice-cookers knows to do this step, which redistribute the moisture throughout the rice for more even and better textures.  You may notice a small nub of rice at the bottom-centre of the pot being slightly coloured (see the second photo below).  Unfortunately this is inevitable with stove-top cooking.  If you are using this rice for making sushi, remove the small nub, but if you’re eating it plain, then it doesn’t really bother anyone.

STEP 6:  Now, the final maturing step.  Put the lid back on and let sit for another 5 min.  If you are worried about keeping the rice warm, midway through this step, you can blast the pot over medium heat for 20 seconds to re-warm the pot.  Why do this?  You can eat the rice after STEP 5 without any trouble of course, but the rice after this extra 5 min of stand-alone time will tastes bouncier, livelier, and will take on a gentle luminous glow.

Persian method for making steamed rice.

You boil the rice in a lot of salted water until it is "al dente" - the way I was taught is that you watch until it "grow" - when you see lines cross-ways on the grains and when you bite into a grain you still see the hard white uncooked center. Then you drain it in a colander and rinse with cold water. Then put it back in a heavy-bottomed pan (or else it will burn on the bottom) to steam. There are different things you can put in the bottom of the pan before adding the rice (potato slices, egg, etc., but the most basic is just to put some oil and a little water in the bottom. Heap the drained rice on top in a "mountain" - ie leave space along the sides. Poke holes in the mountain with the long handle of a utensil for the steam to escape. Wrap the pan lid with a dish towel so the condensation doesn't drop back onto the rice. Cook on medium high for about 15-20 minutes then reduce to low for about 30-40 minutes. This is the way I was taught, although my experience is that it doesn't have to cook quite that long to be done - but I usually am making relatively small quantities. The bonus is that (with practice) you end up with a crunchy golden rice cake on the bottom of the pan ("tadiq") that is delicious!


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