The Basics: Making Rice

Here are all the secrets to making a perfect batch of rice. It will work for any rice: white, brown, long grain, short grain, jasmine, basmati.

The components:
  • Rice: You can adjust this for any amount of rice you want.
  • Water: Just use twice the amount of rice you are using.
  • Salt: My golden rule is 1 tsp per cup of rice.
  • Butter/Oil: Any fat, any oil, will work. Just use 1 Tbs per cup of rice.
For this demo, we'll be using:
  • 1 c jasmine rice
  • 2 c water (tap is fine)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs olive oil

Take a saucepan that should be able to comfortably hold the amount of water you are adding - I try to double the size so there's plenty of room, as the rice will expand. Add all ingredients and stir.

Put the saucepan on the stove on high and bring it to a boil. Once it's boiling, cover, then lower the heat to low/simmer and set the timer to 17 minutes. My father in law taught me that 17 minutes is the magic number, and it has never failed me. You want it boiling until there is no water left in the pan, so if you forget to set the timer, you can lift the lid and look for water bubbling up. It's ready when there is no more liquid.

When the timer goes off, turn the burner off and leave the rice there, covered, for another 10 minutes. This gives it time to fluff, as the rice steams in the pan. You do this so it won't still be wet and soggy.

Remove the lid and fluff with a fork, essentially stirring it from the sides of the pan so you break up clumps.

It's ready! Serve, or cover again and leave until you're ready to eat.

What type of rice should I use?
  • Enriched long grain: The classic Uncle Ben's! This will be fluffy and loose when it's cooked, and it's my go-to unless I have special rice requirements for the dish I'm serving it with.
  • Long grain: Not as fluffy as the enriched kind, but still a basic as a side for American dishes like Cajun food or roast chicken.
  • Medium/short grain: Use one of these to make sticky rice for Chinese food. The shorter the grain, the stickier the final product.
  • Jasmine/Basmati: A long grain variety that is good for Indian and Thai food.
  • Arborio/Valencia: Short grain rice used for risotto, and for certain stews. If you make it like this recipe, it will be sticky rice - but if you add it to a soup or stew, it will absorb the flavor and add texture.