Grains can be the base of a meal any time of the day. Warm rice along with warm rice milk or soymilk, flavored with ground cinnamon and topped with raisins, makes a wonderful breakfast. Steamed rice tossed with salsa and chopped vegetables or mixed with tomato sauce and cooked beans makes a fast lunch or dinner.
Of course, for all of these, you will need a lot of puffy rice! Here are some tips:
Measure twice, Cook once:
Rice absorbs cooking liquid while it simmers so you have to watch the rice to water ratio. If you use too much water, you will wind up with a rice soup. If you use too little water, you’ll get a version of rice popcorn. So just how do we determine the correct proportions? Read on and be sure you have measuring spoons, cups and a pot with a lid.
Never rush the cooking process of rice. If you do so, it becomes chewy and crunchy. Read over the directions carefully for recommended cooking tips. Also, read on right here!
Always keep a lid on your rice while cooking it. If you check it too often, you release steam. The steam is what makes it cook.
Consider the alternatives
Converted or parboiled rice is the most foolproof to make and the fastest to cook. When rice is converted, the nutrient-laden shell is removed with soaking and steaming. It’s then pulverized and added back to the rice, preserving the original nutrient content. Precooking removes some of the starch, allowing the grains to remain separate so as to fluff up more easily.
To cook 1-cup of converted rice, which will make about 2-1/2-cup cooked rice, bring 2-1/4-cup cold water to a boil in a medium pot. Add 1-cup converted rice, 2-teaspoons of vegan margarine if desired – it helps make the rice fluffy – and 1/2-teaspoon salt, if desired. Stir about three times and cover. Reduce the heat to a simmer. allow to cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand (covered) until all the water is absorbed, about three to five minutes. If all the water has been absorbed, add about 2-tablespoons of boiling water, stir, cover, and let stand. Now, the final step: Fluff the rice!
Long and Short-Grain Rice
Long and short-grain rice, such as basmati and arborio rice are cooked just like converted rice. Measuring the rice and the liquid, time the cooking, keep the lid on, let the rice rest at the end of cooking, fluffing with a fork to poof it up.
Brown rice has more nutrient value than white rice. Note: Brown Rice will only last about six months before it gets stale. When it get stale, it is very difficult to get it tender. You can cook brown rice the same as white rice, just increase the recipe listed above by 1/2 cup liquid. Since brown rice can be a little bit harder to get tender, we’ll cover the “pilaf” method. This will add flavor and fluff to brown rice.
Heat 1-tablespoon olive oil in a medium pot. If desired, add 1/2-cup chopped onions for flavor but cook them until soft before adding rice. Add 1-cup rice to oil, toast, stirring and cooking quickly until all the grains are coated, for one minute. Add 2-1/2-cups water or vegetable stock. Bring to a fast boil and cook, uncovered, for one minute. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 40-45 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. The rice will be cooked but still firm (uncover it briefly and check it). Cover the pot and allow to rest for five minutes. Fluff with a fork and it is ready to eat.
Be sure to check brown rice after about 30 minutes; if all the water has been absorbed, but the rice is still tough, add about 1/4-cup boiling water, recover the pot, return to heat, and check again in five minutes.
The next step, after you master cooking rice, is cooking risotto. Made from arborio rice, risotto takes a lot of patience and a wooden spoon. Arborio rice is short grain and has a natural starch. When cooked properly, it makes a creamy dish. Risotto can be eaten as is, but it really is wonderful when cooked asparagus tips, sliced mushrooms, pine nuts, or sun-dried tomatoes are added as soon as it cooks. If you can’t find arborio rice, you can substitute short-grain rice, but it will not be as creamy.
Heat two teaspoons olive oil in a large frying pan. Add 1 minced clove of garlic and heat for 1 minute. Stir in 1-1/2 cups arborio rice and stir and cook until all the grains are coated, about one minute. You will need about four cups of water or vegetable stock, total. Add 1/2-cup of liquid and stir until most of the liquid is absorbed. Continue to add liquid by 1/2 cupfuls and to stir until the arborio is creamy and tender, but still firm. You may not need to use all the liquid. When you have reached the degree of creaminess and tenderness desired, you have risotto!
Toss hot rice with coconut milk, powdered ginger, and drained canned pineapple tidbits; or frozen, thawed mixed veggies and soy sauce; or sauteed spinach and garlic; or peas and pine nuts. Toss cold rice (always cook extra rice so you have some to toss into soups, salads, and soy or rice milk) with: chopped salad greens, tomatoes, and bell peppers; or raisins, walnuts, and chopped canned peaches; or shredded carrots, cubed tofu, and soy sauce.