Kitchen Tips

How to cook white rice perfectly

When cooking white rice it's important to follow a few simple rules to get the most out of this versatile grain.

white rice being cooking in a pan

Types of rice

All rice is long-grain, medium-grain or short-grain. Within these three types, there are many variations – brown rice, white, red, black, fragrant, sticky, creamed rice, firm-cooking and more – that all take slightly different times to cook.

Long-grain rice
Cooks to give separate, fluffy grains ideal for pilafs, biryani, salads and most savoury dishes.

Medium-grain
Slightly more clingy than long-grained when cooked. Ideal for croquettes, arancini and for eating with chopsticks. Special varieties, such as arborio, are used for risotto and other dishes.

Short-grain rice
Cooks to soft, moist grains that cling together, perfect for rice puddings and sushi.

Rice cooking methods

Boiling
This method keeps the grains separate, but can taste a little watery. Bring a large saucepan of slightly salted water to the boil. Add rice, stir once, then boil gently, uncovered, for about 8 minutes. The rice should be tender but not mushy. Drain before serving.

Absorption
By using an exact quantity of water, cooking rice using the absorption method (also sometimes called steaming) retains the flavour of the rice. Rinse rice in a sieve under cold running water, running your fingers through the rice to help dislodge the surface starch until the water runs clear. For 1½ cups (300g) uncooked white or brown rice, bring 3 cups (750ml) water for white rice or 3½ cups (875ml) for brown rice to the boil. Add a pinch of salt, then the rice. Return to the boil; cover with a lid. Reduce heat to very low. Cook white rice for 10 minutes and brown rice for 30 minutes. Remove from heat; stand covered for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. The pan must have a tight-fitting lid for this method to work. If the lid is loose, seal the saucepan with foil or wrap the lid in a tea towel to prevent the steam from escaping.

Microwave
Place 1½ cups (300g) of rinsed white rice in a medium microwave-safe dish. Pour over 2 cups (500ml) of cold water and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook on HIGH (100% power) for 12 minutes. Stand covered for 5 minutes before serving.

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