Why oh why is cooking rice so complicated? Why are there so many different perfect rice secrets? And why don’t these “perfect rice secrets” work for me?
First of all, don’t listen to anyone who says you have to use a specific proportion of water to rice.
They can’t possibly know it will work for you. If it does, it is just luck. If it doesn’t work, that is expected.
It certainly is not your lack of skill.
There are three key reasons why we struggle so much to achieve perfect rice:
- The size of the pot used
- The humidity level in the kitchen
- The type of heat source used (gas vs electric… even elements on the same stove will behave differently)
All of the above determines how much evaporation occurs when we cook rice. Whether it is white, brown, short, long or wild grain rice.
The real secret to perfect rice is found once you get to know your environment, your utensils, and your stove. Once this is known, you will have your own secret to successful rice.
Start With a Baseline
The best way to sort out your personal secret recipe is to start with a baseline. During this process, I like to use just a basic white rice.
- Pick a pot with a lid (if you do not have tight fitting lid, try the towel technique which follows)
- Measure 1 cup of rice
- Rinse your rice. This will get rid of a lot of the excess starch. Some just rinse it under running water in a strainer, I like to swoosh the rice around in the pot and rub the grains between my fingers
- Measure out 1 cup of water
- Combine the rice and water in the pot and put it on the stove over high heat
- As soon as the water comes to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to the lowest setting and let it cook for 15 minutes. Do not peek – if you do, you will allow moisture to escape
- At the end of 15 minutes, pull the pot off the heat and let it sit (still covered) for 10 minutes (still no peeking)
- After 10 minutes, fluff with a fork and taste it. Is it done? Over done? Dry? Wet?
The primary adjustment will be the amount of water you need. If your pot has an ill-fitting lid or if your heat source runs very hot, you will be losing more water to evaporation. You will need to compensate by adding extra water at the beginning.
Once you nail down your evaporation rate, use the same pot/lid/stove element combination every time you make rice. It will always turn out predictable and consistent.
Until I understood this, cooking rice was always hit and miss. I often wondered why I – just me – had such a hard time with rice when everyone else seemed to have it down pat.
Don’t forget to redo a baseline if you move, get a new stove, or new pots. The new tools and/or environment will impact your rice making.
My secret to perfect rice is 1:1 ratio of water to rice. This works whether I am making white or brown rice. I use the back small stove element in my medium size pot. I cook white rice for 15 minutes and brown rice for 25 minutes. We’d love to hear what yours is.
Quick Fix for an Ill-Fitting Lid
For this technique you need one extra piece of equipment, a clean tea towel and an elastic band (ok that’s two).
Simply put a towel around the lid and secure it at the top with an elastic. This will help seal the lid better.
If this works for you, remember to use it every time you make rice.
Here is a fantastic video explaining the science behind evaporation and rice making.
Once you have your own secret rice making strategy, check out our Rice Dish Generator to give you some inspiration for your many future rice dishes.