Friday, January 16, 2009

Rice, Rice Baby

This was either going to be about pasta or rice. And seeing that I am currently staying away from pasta (I blame Christmas), I figured I would go with rice. Now, what is interesting about rice? Well, it's one of the most important foods on this planet, yet the inhabitants of America are 15th in the world of consumption. Really?

It’s a more wholesome grain for you than most anything you can get in bread, it’s simple to digest, and it tastes good! So why do we fill our bellies with pasta and breads and other complex carbs rather than rice? Well, for starters (in my opinion), most of us have no idea how to cook it. I'm sure there are a bevy of other reasons (it does not go with our style of cuisine, its plain, you cannot put sour cream or mayo on it) that people will claim, most of which are a complete hunk. But I'm going to stay with the first topic, that people cannot cook rice, and focus on helping this along.

Rice, in its pure form, does not usually come in a box. It cannot be done in 5 minutes, and it should never say instant. Believe me, I ate a lot of that growing up, and that stuff is NOT rice. Rice, as I know it, comes in primarily two main forms, brown and white (yes, there are loads other, but I'm keeping to the most common ones to cook on an everyday basis). The only difference is that the white has had the outer hull removed. So that means brown is better for you, but also has a different taste (more nutty). White rice comes in many different sub-types that depend on grain size. For the purpose of this exercise, let's stick with long grain, which is mostly what you find in the big bags.

Brand or specific type? It's personal preference. I like sushi rice because it’s a bit stickier, but I know plenty of people who enjoy jasmine because it’s a bit fluffier. Try some out and see what you like.

Cooking, well, there comes the fun part. Cooking white and brown rice are two separate undertakings, so I have included below a method for each. I really hope once you get the (easy) process down it will allow you include more rice in your diet, which is healthy and inexpensive.

White Rice

This recipe has no measurements. Simply make as much as you want. In a small pot, put in rice. Rinse under cold water for about 3 minutes. You want the water to run clear to rid it of excess starch. Pour out most of the water. Place your index finger straight down into the pot and mark where the rice comes up to. You need to add enough water to cover the rice plus this length you just marked off. Strange? Yes. But it works. You can do this by placing your finger (keeping the mark noted) on top of the rice and then filling to the mark. Place on stove over medium heat. Stir once after about 5 minutes. The water will start to simmer and form fish eyes. When this happens (there should be a bit of water still on top of the rice), place a lid on the pot, reduce heat to low, and cook for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit in pot for another 10 minutes.

Brown Rice

1 ½ cups brown rice
2 ½ cups water
1 t. salt
½ T butter

Brown rice can be a bit tricky, so I have opted to go with the oven (its seriously foolproof) in my prep method. Thank Alton Brown for the inspiration on this. Preheat oven to 375°F. Boil water in kettle or pot (with the salt and butter). Add rice (do not rinse) to a 9x9 baking dish. Pour boiling water over it and cover tightly with foil. Place in oven and bake for one hour.


Anonymous,  January 24, 2009 at 12:16 PM  

Hi Skylar

So, rice is good when you're a little hungry and you want about 2,000 things.

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