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Est. 24 April 2009

23rd April 2019

From the Galley: Idiot-Proof Rice

by | Feb 25, 2015 | Galley Slave's Squawks

I’m often surprised by folks asking how I cook rice on Amelie. For a simple food it does seem to cause inordinate consternation when it comes to turning out a bowl-full that’s not swimming in water, clumped together or welded to the bottom of a pan. Even bearing in mind the epithet that making a thing idiot-proof is generally confounded by nature’s ability to make a better idiot I’m fairly sure that I have the answer.

Step One: Select your rice.
There’s a lot to choose from when it comes to rice. You can have it wild, “easy-cook” (!), long grain, short grain and even in a pudding. The vast majority of the time aboard Amelie Rose we’re after something to go with a chilli or a curry though so the obvious candidate is good old basmati.

I get the cheapest possible stuff (I can’t taste the difference between the “value” and the “finest” brands and no-one else has ever commented either). I also avoid anything with the phrase “easy-cook” on the packet. Rice is already easy to cook. Adding the words “easy-cook” to it might reduce the cooking time a little bit but does nothing else to aid you apart from making your wallet lighter and therefore easier to carry.

Step Two: Prepare your rice.
As far as I’m concerned this involves finding it. TV Chefs require you to wash your rice using about a bath-full of extra-virgin mountain spring water to each cup of rice. They announce that this is to wash away the starch that will otherwise cause the rice grains to stick together. Well I’m a sailor and object to this for two reasons:

1) I like starch. When I get into harbour after a good spank to windward I can think of nothing finer than a tasty sauce mixed up in a plate of starchy carbs. Bring it on.

2) I hate wasting water almost as much as I enjoy good rib-sticking grub

So; find your rice.

Step Three: Get everything else ready.
You’re going to need:
A Pan. A good thick-bottomed one with a fairly tight-fitting lid, preferably (but not necessarily) make it a non-stick one. Unless you enjoy hilarious explosive accidents whilst cooking then I’d recommend that your pan is large enough to contain the amount of rice that you intend to serve remembering that rice has a tendency to expand during cooking.

A couple of tablespoons of oil. Any cooking oil will do – we normally use Olive or Rapeseed oil.

A volumetric measuring device. I.e a cup or mug. Make sure that the device can hold boiling water without shattering or scalding you.

Boiling Water. It’s fairly typical of me to get to the point that I need the water only to discover that I forgot to put the kettle on, so get in the habit of doing this first. As a guide; boil up twice the amount of water (by volume) as you’ve got dried rice.

A wooden spoon or other stirring device suitable for the pan you’ve chosen.

Aluminium Foil. You’re going to need a square of it big enough to cover the top of the pan.

Step Four: Let’s cook rice!

  • Put the oil in the pan over a high heat.
  • As soon as the oil is hot add the rice and stir it into the oil so as to coat all of the grains. (This is what will stop it sticking together.) You need to keep track of how much rice you add using your cup/mug/volumetric measuring device (i.e. 1 mug, 1.5 mugs etc.)
  • Now add boiling water in the ratio 1.5 mugs water to 1.0 mug rice. At this point I will confess there can be a little wrinkle. Some rice absorbs more water than others and will turn out to need a little more (up to 1.75 water to 1.0 rice). If your rice burns a little at the bottom or is a little al-dente then increase the water ratio to 1.75:1. If it’s a new pack of rice and you’re not sure then just chuck an extra half mug of water in after you’ve done the measuring, that normally covers it.
  • Bring the rice to the boil then turn the heat to simmer, lay the foil over the top of the pan and push the lid on top to make a snug fit (you can crimp up the spare foil to get it out of the way).
  • Wait. For 360g of rice (i.e. 4 persons-worth) you’ll need to cook for about 12 minutes. For 720g grams (8 people) it’ll be more like 15 minutes. If you boiled up the amount of water detailed above you will find that there’s just enough left to make youself a nice hot cup of tea.
  • Once you hit the time-limit turn off the heat. If you leave the lid and foil on the pan then the rice can be kept like this for 10 – 15 minutes as it’ll stop cooking but will stay hot.
  • When ready to serve take the lid and foil off and give the rice a stir with your spoon thingumy.
  • Enjoy your perfectly cooked rice.

If you want to snazz it up a bit then you can add flavours (e.g. salt, cumin seeds) or veggies (e.g. peas) at the “stir the rice into the oil” phase.

So there you have it – idiot-proof “easy-cook” rice! Let me know how it goes via the comments below.

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