Making rice is a scary thought to most people, I also struggled with the idea of making rice for a long time. For years I would steer clear of making rice and rather resort to making couscous, yes even a chef like me used to be frightened by the idea of ending up with soggy or burnt rice – and trust me this happened quite a lot. I one day decided that this fear of mine was completely irrational, so I set out to develop a structured approach on how to cook rice in a saucepan.
How To Cook Rice In A Saucepan
After a few near perfect batches and three absolutely perfect batches of rice I have developed such a system, needless to say I didn’t want to see another bowl of fried rice for quite a while after this endeavour.
Although rice cookers have made every rice lover’s life a whole lot easier, you will not always have access to one. I can’t remember the last time I used a rice cooker after having perfected my rice in a saucepan recipe, and I urge you to leave your rice cooker in the cupboard and try this method. I guarantee the result will be worth it.
Before we dive into the method, it is important to understand the differences between various types of rice, please have a look at our article on this and ensure you select the correct variation to suit your dish. My method works well for long grain white rice such as Basmati, normal white rice and Jasmine.
RICE IN A SAUCEPAN
- 1 cup (160 gram) 160g Long Grain White Rice
- 1.5 cups (375 milliliter) Cold Water
- 5 ram butter
- Salt for seasoning
- Aromatics of your choice
WASHING THE RICE
- In a bowl cover the rice with cold water stir thoroughly with your hands, drain and repeat until the water has turned clear
SOAKING THE RICE
- In the same bowl cover the rice with cold water and let stand for 30 minutes
- Drain water
COOKING THE RICE
- In a small saucepan add rice and cold water, season thoroughly with salt
- Add butter and aromatics
- Cover with tight-fitting lid
- Place saucepan on medium high heat and bring to a boil
- As soon as the water starts to boil, reduce the heat to low and set a timer for 15 minutes
- When your timer goes off, remove saucepan from stove and place on a counter (do not leave on the stove, residual heat may cause it to burn/ dry out.)
- Leave the lid on for an additional 15 minutes to let the rice steam
- Remove aromatics and fluff the rice with a fork
After removing aromatics, add more butter to the rice while fluffing.
Washing Your Rice
I cannot stress the importance of washing your rice before cooking enough, without a proper rinse your rice with be sticky, dry and smelly. If you are not interested in knowing why then skip on to the next section.
The main reason to wash your rice before cooking is to get rid of dirt and excess surface starch which will make your rice clump together and might give it a gummy texture. It is important to note that this is not necessary for all types of rice, as in making a risotto, the excess surface starch will add to the oh so creamy texture we all know and love from a proper risotto dish.
It is recommended to always wash your rice if you are making medium and long grain varieties.
To wash your rice is very simple, you must place your rice in a bowl, fill with cold water and stir the rice around with your hands. Drain the water and repeat until the water turns clear.
Soaking Your Rice
Soaking the rice before cooking is a very well-kept chefs secret, although not all rice types will benefit from a good soak before hitting the stove, aromatic rice varieties such as Basmati and Jasmine require a soak to reach the next level. After a proper wash place your rice in a bowl and cover with clean, cold water for 30 minutes prior to cooking. After the soak, drain and follow the next steps.
Soaking your rice will reduce the time needed for cooking, this inherently helps to preserve some of the natural oils found in your rice as the cooking process breaks down these oils, therefore reducing the time needed for cooking you therefore preserve some of those important oils.
Cooking Your Rice
My first and arguably most important tip for making perfect rice every time would be, do not trust your own judgment of time – USE A TIMER. I cannot explain to you how many batches of rice I have destroyed because I thought I can accurately estimate 15 minutes, it is too easy to forget about your rice, especially if you are not standing by the stove keeping a close eye on the rice. I have made it a habit to use a timer with an alarm every time I make rice, regardless of me keeping a constant eye on the pot or finishing an episode of whatever show I’m watching at the moment.
After thoroughly washing then soaking the rice, drain the water you used to soak the rice in then use the following ratio of rice to water.
1 cup rice to 1 and a half cups of water
Place your rice in a saucepan, cover with cold water according to the abovementioned ratio then generously season with salt and add any aromatics you would like to infuse the rice with – I like using bay leaves, cardamom pods, cinnamon and star aniseed. Drop in a little bit of butter, this will help carry the flavours from your aromatics.
Cover with a tight-fitting lid and place on medium-high heat, keep a close watch on the water, as soon as the water starts boiling, turn the heat down to let and set your timer for 15 minutes. DO NOT LIFT THE LID – Your rice will go through a few stages, boiling, simmering then steaming, if you lift the lid, you let much needed steam escape.
As soon as the 15 minutes has passed, drop everything you are doing and remove the saucepan from the heat, do not leave it on the stove as the stove will retain a considerable amount of residual heat even if switched off. Leave the rice covered for an additional 15 minutes before you are allowed to lift the lid, this will let the moisture distribute evenly throughout the rice and ensure that you don’t end up with a dried-out layer of rice on the top.
When measuring the correct amount of rice most people tend measure more than they need because the rice will absorb a lot of moisture and will expand to about three times its original size. Half a cup or 80g of rice will be sufficient for one portion.
I am convinced that once you have tried this method you will free up some cupboard space by throwing out the rice cooker.
Play around with different aromatics for different meals, try using citrus peels or coffee beans to add extra layers of flavour to your dishes. Say NO to boring rice!