Foolproof rice without a rice cooker

Confession: I’ve never owned a rice cooker. For decades I have cooked rice as my grandmother taught me when I was just a little girl. I simply use a pan.

Popo filled a saucepan about one quarter full of Texas long grain rice. She filled the pan halfway full with water and swished her hand through the rice until the water became very cloudy. She carefully poured off the water, leaving the rice behind in the pan. She repeated rinsing the rice several times until the water was almost clear. After pouring off the water the last time, she added more water, just enough to cover the surface of the rice by about one inch. She used her index finger as a measure, the water should just reach the first line or joint of her index finger. She set the pan over medium-high heat. When the water came to a boil, she reduced the heat to medium-low and when most of the water evaporated and the surface of the rice was exposed, she covered the pan, and cooked the rice over very low heat for about 10 minutes. Cooked this way, the rice had tender grains that stuck slightly together. Often a golden crust would form on the bottom, a tasty treat for us kids. The drawback with this technique was that if the heat was too high or if the rice cooked too long at the last stage of cooking, it could develop a thick crust or burn.

Now, I eat far less rice than when I was young. I rarely eat the rice crust. To avoid waste and the rice crust I’ve simplified my rice cooking technique.

The first part follows Popo’s directions. Start with a pan that has thick sides and bottom, preferably with a nonstick finish. This is important. It is easy to burn the rice in thin pans. I usually use a 2-quart pan. Fill the pan with long grain rice such as Thai Jasmine to a depth of 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep. Remember rice may almost triple in volume so allow room for expansion. Rinse the rice several times until the water is almost clear, then after draining the last time add more water until it measures about 1 inch deep over the top surface of the rice. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Once it simmers, cover the pan and reduce heat to low and cook 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand covered about 5 minutes. Then you are ready to serve tender grains of rice, evenly cooked throughout the pan.

 

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