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This Is Why You’re Ruining Your Rice When Cooking

Eat This, Not That! logo Eat This, Not That! 2/4/2019 April Benshosan
a bowl of food sitting on top of a wooden table: Brown rice © Shutterstock Brown rice

Rice is one of those foods that can be the simplest to make–once you’ve figured out how to do it—yet it also seems to be the easiest to mess up. And there’s a chance you might actually be making one big, very common mistake while you’re cooking the grain that’s essentially ruining your entire dish in seconds. If there’s one thing you really need to keep in mind when you’re attempting to master the art of cooking rice to perfection, it’s to leave the lid alone.

We can’t stress enough how important it is to keep the lid on for the entire cooking process. Lifting that lid is the fastest way to ruining your rice. See, once your rice is added to a pot filled with boiling water, you’re supposed to cover it with a lid and not lift it while it’s simmering on the stove. While you might be tempted to take the lid off to give it a stir or just to check on how your food is doing, you’re actually messing with the temperature of the rice and letting out the oh-so-important steam that helps it cook. It’ll make the cooking time longer because it’s letting out that precious steam and pressure for cooking that’s been building up (that is, until you lifted the lid), and you could be left with not-so-fluffy perfect rice at the end that’s undercooked and not as moist as it could have been. Ever been left with clumpy, dry rice? Yep, lifting the lid could have caused that. This is why building up that steam inside is so key. Essentially, lifting up the lid will result in your rice not cooking properly, so the lid staying on is crucial.

a bowl of food on a wooden table: Brown rice © Shutterstock Brown rice

We consulted Chef de Cuisine at Fairway Market Cafe, Vincent Olivieri, on how to cook rice, and he gave us step-by-step instructions so you can step up your meal prep skills and get to cooking your rice the right way. You’ll see that he also stresses the importance of not touching the lid, too. Plus, once you finally master the art of cooking rice, you can learn How to Cook Quinoa Like a Pro.

How to cook rice

  1. Rinse the rice. This helps get rid of extra starchiness that makes the rice stickier than it needs to be. Use a strainer, and rinse until the water runs clear.
  2. The rule of thumb to cooking rice is the ratio is always 2 parts water to 1 part rice. From there you can adjust based on the instructions on the package.
  3. Bring water to a boil. If package instructions suggest adding vegetable oil, swap it out with butter for a more homey flavor.
  4. Add the rice once the water is boiling, and then bring it to a steady simmer.
  5. Cover the saucepan and then lower the temperature. DO NOT LIFT THE LID! It’s tempting, but the steam is crucial.
  6. After around 18 minutes, check the rice. If the rice is cooked and there’s extra water, do not worry! Just simply drain that water by tilting the pan.
  7. Fluff the rice with a fork.

Pro tip from Chef Olivieri: My trick is to always use a non-stick saucepan or pot, this way you get the crunchy good bites that are at the bottom. They slide right out!

Do brown rice, wild rice, and white rice require different cooking times?

a bowl of food on a table: Cooked rice © Shutterstock Cooked rice

If you’re opting for brown and wild rice on the reg and white rice only when you try your hand at homemade sushi, know that each type of rice requires varying time on the stove. “Brown rice takes longer to cook because it still has the fibrous bran and nutritious germ layers intact and only the husk (the outer layer) has been removed,” Janet Souza, PR&Design Manager at Lundberg Family Farms tells us. “It typically takes 45 to 50 minutes to cook whole grain rice. Wild rice, which is actually an aquatic grass, takes about the same time to cook as brown rice because it is also a whole grain. White rice, which has the bran and germ layers removed in the milling process, typically takes 15 to 20 minutes to cook.”

Now that you know how to cook rice, why not put your newfound skills to use by whipping up a batch and peppering it with some spices, a protein, and fiber-rich veggies for a flavorful meal?

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