To cook rice correctly, you need to follow a few simple rules:
How to boil rice (English-style)
As with cooking pasta, rice should be boiled in a large pot of boiling, salted water.
Bring the water to a boil, then add the rice, stir and bring back to a boil. Once the rice is al dente, drain and serve with your condiment of choice.
How to prepare rice with milk (for desserts)
Cook rice in a large pot of boiling water. Drain and finish cooking the rice in a pot of milk over low to medium heat.
How to prepare creole rice (for side dishes)
Boil the rice for 10-12 min, then drain and transfer to a baking dish. Toss with a generous amount of melted butter and mix with a fort. Cover the dish and finish cooking by baking the rice in the oven.
How to prepare rice pilaf
Toast the rice in a pot with butter and chopped onion. Add two times as much stock as rice. Cover the pot and place in a hot oven until the rice has absorbed all of the stock.
How to prepare risotto
There are three important steps to making risotto:
- toasting the rice
Saute chopped onions in a pot with butter. Then add the rice and turn up the heat to “toast”the rice, causing it to absorb the fat and become translucent. Normally, one adds a splash of white wine and allows it to evaporate.
- cooking the rice
Keep the pot over medium heat and add boiling broth, a little at a time as it is absorbed by the rice. Stir often.
- finishing the rice
After the rice is done cooking, add the butter and grated Parmigiano Reggiano (if the recipe calls for it) and stir to create the creamy texture, typical of risotto. It should be neither too liquid, nor too dry.
Generally, you do not need to wash or rinse rice before cooking. If cold water enters into the grain, it can cause the grain to disintegrate. Whole grain rice is an exception.
The amount of water needed to cook rice depends on the preparation: to cook 100g of rice, you should use a half liter of water; to prepare risotto, a liter and a half of water or stock for every 400g of rice; while the amount of water decreases for soups, which should be some what liquid or creamy.
Rice continues to cook even after it has been removed from the heat. Therefore it is advised that you serve rice immediately or remember to cook it a little al dente.
When you are cooking with spices, it is best to use fresh ones, although dried spices will work as well. Be sure to pay attention to the quantities that you add, keeping in mind that there are 3 main types of spices:
- those that reinforce the flavor of food: onion, garlic, mustard, etc.
- those that alter the flavor: nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, black pepper, etc.
- and those that give aroma: thyme, saffron, bay leaves, parsley, vanilla, rose water, orange water.
Types of rice
Indian and Japanese are the main two types of subspecies of rice (Oryza sativa) that are grown around the world. These two subspecies can be divided further into the various varities of rice.
Indian rice is known for its long, thing and crystal-like shape. Basmati is an example of Indian rice. Japanese rice is originally from China and is short and round with a pearly sheen. Japanese rice can be subdivided into the following categories:
- Common rices used for soups or desserts. (es. Originario)
- Semifine rices for appetizers, rice with butter, rice fritters, baked rice dishes and risotto. (es. Vialone Nano)
- Fine rices for risotto, sides and English-style rice. (es. Ribe, S. Andrea, Europa)
- Superfine rices for risotto and sides (es. Arborio, Carnaroli)
One of the biggest difficulties when one decides to make a rice dish is trying to distinguish between the infinite varieties available in Italy. Many of these are also available abroad. Therefore, we have created this little chart indicating which type of rice should be used to make each dish:
- Soups: balilla, vialone nano, maratelli, romeo, arborio, baldo, sant’Andrea, balilla G.G., ticinese.
- Risotto: arborio, vialone, carnaroli, euribe, rosa marchetti, rizzotto, Sant’Andrea, nero, roma, razza 77, italpatna.
- Boiled or Steamed Rice: carnaroli, R.B., razza 77, rosa marchetti, maratelli, padana bahas, italico, neretto, vialone nano.
- Rice Salads: carnaroli, R.B., razza 77, italpatna.
- Rice Pilaf: arborio, R.B., razza 77, italpatna.
- Molded Rice Dishes: arborio, baldo, R.B., razza 77, italpatna, rosa marchetti, maratelli, padana bahas, italico, neretto, vialone nano.
- Desserts: Balilla, Balilla G.G., Ticinese.
The type of rice should be written on the package.
Cooking times depend on the type of rice and the recipe. Rice is considered done once 75% of the starchy part of each kernal has gelatinized. This process usually takes between 13 and 20 minutes.