My Recipe Box

Salvaging not-so-perfect rice

by Niloufer King

fromFine Cooking
Issue 31

Cooking a perfect pot of rice isn't difficult, but sometimes, it doesn't turn out as perfect as you'd like. So here are ways to fix rice that has turned out less than perfectly:

Problem: The rice is still very chewy or hard in the middle after the allotted time.
Solution: Add just enough water to create a little steam, 1/4 cup or less. Put the lid on and cook the rice on very low heat for another 5 minutes.

Problem: The rice is cooked but too wet.
Solution: Uncover the pot and cook over low heat to evaporate the water. Or gently turn the rice out onto a baking sheet and dry it in a low oven.

Problem: The grains are split and the rice is mushy.
Solution: Use the rice for rice pudding and start over if you have the time.

Problem: The bottom layer of rice has burned.
Solution: Run cold water over the outside of the pot's bottom to keep the burnt flavor from permeating the rest of the rice (don't add water to the rice itself).Tip out as much rice as you can salvage.

You can avoid such problems by breaking the cardinal rule of rice cooking ("never lift the lid") and actually looking to see how it's doing. I for one have done so and lived to tell the tale. A quick peek will tell you if most of the water has been absorbed and that it's time to let the rice sit off the heat. The point is to keep the lid off for just a flash.

Photo: Steve Hunter

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