on cooking quinoa, rice, grains, etc.

I alluded to it a bit in my quinoa post about ignoring the water volume recommendation on the package. Here are some pretty easy rules to live by. H/T CLG for inspiring the OG-bot into defiance mode when she bought that rice cooker. “No self-respecting…would use…” You get the point.

White rice and the 10 minute rule
Every company that produces white rice has a slightly different volume recommendation for cooking the rice. But how can they account for the varying levels of humidity in your rice? Short answer is that they can’t. For me and my money and time, forget the recs and go with at least 3 cups of salted water per 1 cup of rice. Sounds like too much; it is. Look, I don’t have time to read the back of Mahatma or whatever the hell other brand I can find, and there’s no way I’m going to memorize something that’s not even worth looking up.

Bring at least triple the amount of water to a boil.
Add the rice, and stir quickly to make sure that none of it sticks to the bottom of the pan and scalds.
Set your timer for 10 minutes.
Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and check when the timer goes off. DO NOT STIR as this releases starch and results in a sticky mess. I’ve done it too many times.
If it needs a little more time, give it more time, then quickly strain.

I personally like to pour cool water over it in the sink to keep the rice from sticking to the pan so my cleanup is easier. It’s like cold shocking it so it doesn’t overcook. Then, if you want to season the rice, do so when you know you’re not going to be making release any more starch.

This method allows to cook whatever grain/pasta/etc you want without worrying about volumes. The default expectation is that you get the water volume exactly right, and it just does incorporate into the grain in the end. To me, that requires a precision that most home cooks aren’t going to have. Instead of slaving over it, try doing it this way. Then, all you’re dependent on is the cooking time, effectively cutting your work and the variability in half.

White rice: 10 min
Quinoa: about 20 min
Brown rice: 45 min – 1 hr
Pasta: varies on type, anywhere from a couple of minutes to 15 minutes +/-
Couscous: Israeli is bigger, ergo longer cooking time than regular.
Beans: much longer cooking times, and this is where the pressure cooker comes in handy as a means of compressing time.

As I said before, quinoa has an internal qualitative test to let you know when it’s done. I didn’t have the best picture for the last post, but here’s a better example. As soon as see the filaments release from the grain, it’s done.


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