Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rice to see you

I'm heading to work soon, so this will be just a brief post. I'm actually in the middle of preparing my teatime meal: a portion of the beef curry I cooked last week and rice. Obviously the curry is ready to chuck in the microwave, so it was just a matter of cooking up some rice while doing a few chores (ahem) prior to work. What made the task moderately more interesting a prospect was the opportunity it gave me to try out the Thai rice I picked up in Lidl on Thursday.
I've never understood the obsession with non-stick rice. Growing up in a house where non-stick rice meant raw rice, I was always pretty happy just to get edible grains on to my plate. And, unlike many people my age, I must have saved *years* of my life by not avidly collecting cooking methods from friends, work colleagues and acquaintances. To be honest, my sister brought home from a year spent teaching in Spain a pretty fool-proof method of cooking rice which has served me well for ten years.
Still, I quite like the faint whiff of jasmine which accompanies Thai takeaway orders. So when I spotted actual Thai rice in Lidl, I said I'd give it a go. What a disappointment. I've followed the cooking instructions, and a big wodge of rice is currently sitting in a sieve, looking up at me lumpenly when I shove grains over and back to make it look more appealing. Bah.
Look, I'll divvy it up into portions, take one to work, and stick the rest into the freezer - and I'll do it with a smile on my face, dammit. But next time, I'm going back to the idiot-proof method my sister taught me all those years ago...

Ruby's Ridiculously Easy Rice (named after my sister's exotic flatmate - and tutor in the ways of cooking rice)
If you have the time, rinse the rice you are about to cook. Don't bother with a colander (the finer raw grains will simply slip through and flow down the plughole - I learnt this the hard way) - either grab a sieve, throw the raw rice in and allow the cold tap to run through until the water running out the other side is clear, or place in a small pot, *almost fill with cold water from the tap, stir the grains, gently allow the cloudy water to flow out by tipping the pot, repeat from [*] until the water flowing out of the pot runs clear-ish, and drain the rice as much as you can (again, a sieve is handy here, but do the best you can) Put rice to one side. Chop one onion finely. Chop one clove of garlic finely. Now take the saucepan in which you will cook the rice - it has to have a lid (I use a non-stick pot that measures about 10 inches). Place a good glug of olive oil in the base and, on a medium heat, cook the onion and garlic until they soften. Switch on the kettle and boil about 1.5 litres of water. Now take your rinsed rice and stir into the saucepan so that the grains are slick with oil and incorporated into the onions and garlic mixture. Quickly flatten the mixture down to make it level. Slowly pour the recently boiled water into the pan - but not too much. The water should *just cover* the top of the rice. Throw in salt and pepper to taste, and cover the pan. Do Not Stir. After a few minutes, you may hear the telltale sizzle of a pot about to burn. By all means, pour in another 100ml of hot water but do not let the water reach the top of the rice. And Do Not Stir.
I'm afraid I can't give you a precise cooking time: at this stage, I just get the ball rolling about 40 minutes before I need the rice, and start sampling the stuff about 15 minutes after the water first goes in. Once I think it's done, I just take it off the heat, keep it covered, and know that when I need it, I will have deliciously fragrant steamed rice ready to serve from the pot. (Yup, the water just boils offf so there's no juggling colanders and pots of hot water over the kitchen sink as my imaginary dinner guests twiddle their thumbs.) Honestly, you'll never go back to the old way...
Right, I'm off to work. With a lovely curry, nice-ish rice and Tina Fey's A Mother's Prayer for Her Child (thank you, Mighty Girl!)Link

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