The most common forms of rice are indica (long grain) and japonica (short grain). There are many other forms and varieties of rice, but for our purposes we will “stick” with the basics. Many a cook have become frustrated with sticky, lumpy rice that causes all sorts of panic and dread. Do not be afraid! Cooking rice is easy and can be done perfectly each and every time out. A few basic, simple rules always apply. Follow these rules, and you can become a world class rice cooker every day.
I travelled in the New Orleans area for many years and picked up a few tips from some great home chefs that I use each and every time when I make rice. First off, I was taught to put the rice in a heavy saucepan. Put enough water so that when you put your little finger in the pot, the water will come to the first joint of your little finger. Sprinkle some salt and a spoon or two of butter or margarine. Turn on the fire and when the rice begins to boil, lower the fire and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. Cook until all of the water is gone.
People always get tripped up by what amounts of rice to use. A rule of thumb is to use as much as you will need for that day. What? Very simply, it’s a one to two ratio. One cup of rice (medium-grain, long-grain, or extra-long-grain) to two cups of water. Converted rice will sometimes tend to separate. These brands of rice do not separate. They do somehow stick together, but they are are not gluey or sticky. One teaspoon of butter, margarine, or vegetable oil will do the trick. Once the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes or until the water is completely absorbed. Do not overheat or burn the rice. If you follow these simple instructions, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish.
History books tell us that rice came to America by accident. A ship from Madagascar docked in Charleston, South Carolina for urgently needed repairs. In return for the repairs and the southern hospitality extended to the crew of this frigate, John Thurber, the ship’s captain, presented Henry Woodward, Charleston’s first settler, with a bag of rice. Rice has been grown in America ever since! So keep making your rice and follow these simple instructions. You will not be sorry.