Six tips for making perfect rice every time.
If you're looking for the perfect recipe that will give you fluffy rice every time, this post is for you.
I like sticky rice fine, but my preference is for the drier pilafs that sift through my fingers with ease. For example, cardamom scented Biryani, a Persian rice dish studded with dried fruit, or the simple pilaf I make regularly, tossed with grilled vegetables. These rice dishes call my name.
Problems Cooking Rice
For a long time, my rice was inconsistent. Sometimes it was spot on perfect, but any preening on my part was brief. Most of the time, I either didn't add enough liquid, resulting in something edible, but also audible, or I over-corrected with too much liquid. It's shocking how much difference a mere 2 tablespoons makes. If this has happened to you too, you know this results in gloppy rice.
Yes, I know I could have bought a rice cooker, but frankly I already have enough small kitchen appliances to open my own home appliance shop.
So I turned this rice challenge into a project. I researched tips and then test-drove a bunch of them in my noncommercial grade “test kitchen”. It was all pretty scientific with a notebook I titled “FOOD”, to record my results. At the end of it all, I came up with Six Tips that will guarantee a perfect rice pilaf every time.
Six Tips For Perfect Fluffy Rice
1. Use a heavy bottomed pot to prevent burning or scorching. It's harder to control a heated surface that is thin.
2. Sauté the rice in a little olive oil until lightly toasted.
- This accomplishes 2 things: toasting kicks up the flavor of the rice, and the oil coats the grains, allowing them to slide past each other without developing starchiness.
- Note: Soaking uncooked rice grains for 30 minutes, following by a thorough rinse, results in reduced starchiness in rice dishes as well. But it requires budgeting an additional 30 minutes of prep time, and eliminates the punched up flavor bonus.
3. Use a ratio of 2 cups of water or broth to 1 cup of rice.
- Too little liquid often results in partially cooked rice stuck to the bottom of the pot, a seemingly permanent condition. Too much liquid, results in gloppy rice.
4. Add salt when the broth or water is stirred into the rice. Don't wait until the rice is cooked.
- This ensures an even flavoring throughout the rice. I often add other spices like cardamom or cinnamon with the salt.
5. Cover the pot while the cooking liquid is simmering, be sure to keep it at a low simmer, and don't be tempted to stir it.
6. When the rice is done, remove from the heat and keep it covered for 10 minutes before tossing it with a fork.
- This gives the rice time to more evenly distribute their moisture. Otherwise the rice on the top will be dry and almost flakey, the rice on the bottom wet.
Perfect Fluffy Rice
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup basmati white rice
- 2 cups vegetable broth or water
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- Rinse the rice, drain, and dry with a towel.
- Warm the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Pour in the rice and toss with a wooden spoon to evenly coat the grains. Toast the grains for 5 - 10 minutes until fragrant.
- Stir the vegetable broth or water into the rice, and add the salt. This is a good time to add any other spices and herbs you're planning on for flavoring the rice.
- Bring to a boil, stir, cover, and reduce the heat to maintain a low simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes without stirring.
- Remove the pot from the heat, but keep covered for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork.
Note: Brown basmati rice requires an additional 1/4 cup liquid for every cup of rice and requires a longer cooking time of 30 – 35 minutes. Follow all of the other directions for cooking white rice.