On the scale of things that can easily go wrong when you’re cooking them, rice is definitely at the irritating end.
Some days cooking rice seems to go perfectly and you end up with lovely fluffy rice that tastes incredible. However, there are also days where you end up with a stodgy mess, random hard pieces or – everybody’s worst nightmare – rice that is burnt to the bottom of your pan.
Everyone seems to have tricks for cooking the best rice, but what is the real way to ensure you get fluffy loveliness at the end no matter what you’re teaming it with? We look at the best way to cook standard rice, as well as sharing some great tips on rice alternatives and healthy frying.
How to cook rice
When it comes to boiling rice, it seems like it should be fairly simple, but things can still go wrong very easily. For starters, different types of rice need different cooking times, so it’s always a good idea to check your packet to see what it suggests.
The biggest variation in cooking is between brown and white rice, as brown takes longer and has a totally different texture when it is cooked. Here’s how to cook both brown and white rice in the best possible way.
Cooking white rice
You should start by measuring your rice before cooking, using the standard rule of 90g per person, remembering that rice doubles in size when it is cooked. When you know how much rice you’re cooking, choose a pan that will give it plenty of room to expand without overflowing.
Next up, rinse your rice using a sieve until the water runs clear. This will help you avoid gloopy rice that tastes just as bad as it looks, ensuring you get a nice fluffy texture.
When you’ve drained your ice, pour it in a saucepan, add some salt and double the amount of water to rice, giving everything a quick stir before bringing the water to the boil. Once your pan is bubbling away, turn the heat down just to keep the water hot and pop a lid on it.
Leave your rice to cook for 10 to 15 minutes before using a fork to fluff it up and check that it is cooked. Drain away any excess liquid once you’re happy the rice is ready and serve it up!
Cooking brown rice
The method for cooking brown rice is similar to that used for cooking white, except it takes a lot longer to cook. Brown rice needs between 40 and 50 minutes on a low heat to cook through and yet still retain its slightly chewy texture and nutty flavour.
Prepare your rice the same as above, rinsing it, bringing the water to the boil, reducing the heat and covering your pan. However, leave it be for around 30 minutes before giving it a quick stir to make sure it isn’t burning or sticking to the bottom of your pan.
Allow it to finish cooking with the lid on before testing and draining it just as you would with white rice.
If you’re still struggling with these methods, then you can always invest in a rice cooker and let the machine do it all for you!
How to cook cauliflower rice
If you want to cut down on carbs and calories – or if you just hate cooking normal rice – cauliflower rice is a great option. It has a similar texture to standard white rice, is full of flavour and can be served up with most – if not all – of the same meals.
To start with, you need to prepare your raw cauliflower. To do this, remove the leaves and cut the cauliflower into quarters. You want to remove the majority of the large centre stem, as this can be tough, before cutting each quarter into three or four pieces.
Gradually add pieces to your food processor – overloading it will leave you with uneven rice or just turn your cauliflower into mush – blitzing it for a few seconds each time to get a course rice that looks similar to couscous.
Once it’s all ready, spread the cauliflower evenly over a baking tray – you can use greaseproof paper to stop it sticking – and add a small drizzle of oil. Roast in a pre-heated oven (around 200C) for 20 minutes or until the cauliflower develops a slight golden colour. Then you’re all ready to enjoy it.
How to cook healthy fried rice
Fried rice is a takeaway staple but it is far from the healthiest thing on the menu. While you can cook it at home, many people still add a lot of oil, which means it isn’t much better for you than if you bought it from a takeaway.
The easiest way to make a healthy and tasty fried rice is to use cooked brown rice, as this will result in a similar texture to the rice you get from your favourite Chinese restaurant. It is also a good idea to create a stir-fry dish with it rather than just frying the rice, as this means you need less oil.
Start off by heating sesame oil – this gives a lovely nutty flavour – in a pan before adding your spices. Fry your meat or fish until browned before adding your vegetables. Be sure to keep stirring the mixture until the vegetables have started to soften.
Add your cooked brown rice – it’s best if it is still warm – and your stir-fry sauce. The sauce will help to fry the rice without you needing to add more oil. Keep on the heat until everything is cooked and eat it as soon as the meal is served.