Rice is, without a doubt, the most delicious type of grass to grow in a swamp. That’s not praise to be given lightly. As long as humans have lived in houses, we’ve eaten rice.There are as many types of rice as there are places to grow it, from the familiar, highly processed white rice to whole-grain brown, all the way through red to black wild rices grown in Asia.However, the rise of convenience culture in response to rapidly diminishing supplies of free time mean more and more people reach adulthood without internalizing recipes and cooking techniques. Does that describe you? Welcome, you’re among friends. Allow me to share some mistakes I’ve learned to avoid.Ultimately, much of this advice will boil down to “your technique and tools should depend on what you’re cooking,” but there are a few grains of wisdom to glean when it comes to equipment, most importantly, your choice of pot.A pot with a thick bottom will better retain and distribute heat. Thick bottoms are crucial for boiling rice in the absorption method, where the formation of steam pockets play a key role in cooking.Many advocates of rice-washing claim that industrial byproducts of the milling process (like talc) remain on the finished product. The claim is that pre-washing helps remove excess starch and any undesirable leftovers. Most domestically processed rice is free from talc, but imported strains like basmati may be processed with it.
While flavored and enriched rice blends popular with Western grocers certainly don’t need pre-washing (you’re paying for convenience and flavor, after all!) a rinse or two of cold water will yield fluffier, more distinct grains.If you feel so moved, grab a fine mesh strainer and pop 1 cup of rice under the faucet. When the water draining from the grains is clear, you’re good to go. The only exception would be those cooking risotto or sushi rice, who crave that starchy goodness.Here’s a tip to remember the next time you deal with any quick-cooking starch: The surface of electric burners holds a great amount of heat, increasing the length of time a pot remains boiling after the burner temperature is reduced. To avoid this, heat a second burner to a low simmer as the pot begins to boil on the first.Those lucky souls blessed with propane burners don’t need to worry, being well familiar with the gas’s whip-fast response time.Aromatic rices, like basmati and almond rice, should be pre-soaked in order to preserve the oils responsible for their signature aromas. Cooking destroys these oils, so in order to minimize cooking time, pre-soak the grains in more water than you’ll cook them in. This expedites cooking time by an average of 20 percent, resulting in restaurant-grade bouquets.