A beginner’s survival guide to cooking rice

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Rice may seem like one of the most simple things on the planet to cook, but guess what? It’s also dangerously easy to mess up when your mom or housekeeper ain’t around. How do we know this? Well, well, we’re not ashamed to admit that we messed up — big time. We don’t want you to repeat our sin of cooking mushy rice, so we asked a professional to share some tips on how to make rice so when you go abroad, you’re prepped for survival and tight spending.

What is good rice?

In Krabi at the Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, executive chef Nathan Chilcott broke down some of the basics for us on making primo rice. Step one is pretty easy: start with good rice. “Quality rice makes a big difference to the fragrance, texture and taste,” says Chilcott. Thailand is a rice paradise, home to award-winning grains that are delicious just about any way you eat them. Make sure you’re buying quality Thai rice before you start cooking, or just stop what you’re doing altogether.

Preparation is key

Once you pick up your prized Thai rice, treat it right. Like any fresh produce, you’ll need to clean it before you do anything else. “Wash the rice to remove the excess starch,” advises Chilcott.

We might add that washing 2 – 3 times is recommended. Alright, next.

Throw your rice into a rice cooker or pot with water, and no seasoning — yet. “Only season after cooking,” says Chilcott. You can add salt and other flavors later on. For now, let your rice cook alone. The amount of water you need to cook your rice will depend on the type of rice you’re cooking, so read the instructions on your rice bag or box carefully. No one wants soggy rice.

For isaan food eaters (us included), this is for you, “For sticky rice, it has way different method on cooking it,” says Bangkok’s Funky Lam Chef Vishnu ‘Bank’ Prempuk. “Technically, it has to soak the grains at least three hours before steaming. Rinse the soaked rice two to three time before placing into the bamboo weaved basket. Cover it with any lid and let steam for 45 mins to 1 hour.”

It’s rice. Be gentle.

It can be tempting to try to intervene in the cooking process. Don’t give in. Let the rice be at peace (wait a sec — is this rice or cat?). “Rice can be fragile so don’t over mix to avoid breakage,” says Chilcott. If you’re cooking rice over the stove, make sure that the temperature is just so. “Control the temperature, rapid boiling water can break and damage individual grains,” Chilcott says. The mercy of a rice cooker is that the temperature is controlled for you, taking out that concern.

Once your rice is cooked, let it hang out before digging in. “The most ideal way is to let rice rest for 10 to 15 mins after cooked,” says Prempuk. After that resting period, it’s finally ready to eat. Season it according to your preference and gobble it up. You deserve to eat every last grain, you cooked it! If you want, you can save the leftover water if you boiled your rice with excess water because it’s full of vitamins and other nutrients. Be a hero and use that water to make porridge for your loved ones.

Lastly, you’ll get more pleasure out of the grain if you’re making it regularly. The texture and flavor is best the day of cooking. “Always cook rice fresh daily,” Chilcott suggests. Follow the steps below to get started now.

Take the step-by-step detour

The Rice Cooker Method

  1. Rinse the rice to clean off excess starch and other impurities.
  2. Add water (cup of rice: cups of water)

– New rice 1:1.5

– Old rice 1:1.7

– Whole grain 1:2

  1. Close the lid and press the corresponding button to start. Wait for 15–20 minutes.
  2. After the cooker indicates that your rice is done, leave the lid on for an extra 15 minutes to ensure that every grain is evenly cooked without sticking to the bottom, then it will be ready for you to enjoy.

The Microwave Oven Method

  1. You will need a microwave-compatible container with a lid that’s big enough for the amount of rice you are going to make.
  2. Rinse the rice.
  3. Add water per the given ratio.
  4. Close the lid and put the container in the microwave.
  5. Using medium power, cook the rice for 15–20 minutes.

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