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Tasty Versatile Rice

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In the nearish future, we’re going to do some incredible rice dishes, but first we need to make sure we’re all on the same page about cooking rice, so here’s a simple recipe first, to get technique down and work in some essentials. We’ll be using wholegrain basmati rice, because it has a low glycemic index, lowest likelihood of heavy metal contamination (a problem for some kinds of rice), and it’s one of the easiest rices to cook well.

You will need

  • 1 cup wholegrain basmati rice (it may also be called “brown basmati rice“; this is the same)
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (ideally you have made this yourself from vegetable offcuts that you saved in the freezer, then it will be healthiest and lowest in sodium; failing that, low-sodium vegetable stock cubes can be purchased at most large supermarkets. and then made up at home with hot water)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp black pepper, coarse ground
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder (this small quantity will not change the flavor, but it has important health benefits, and also makes the rice a pleasant golden color)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp yeast extract (this gently improves the savory flavor and also adds vitamin B12)
  • Optional small quantity of green herbs for garnish. Cilantro is good (unless you have the soap gene); parsley never fails.

This is the ingredients list for a super-basic rice that will go with anything rice will go with; another day we can talk more extensive mixes of herbs and spice blends for different kinds of dishes (and different health benefits!), but for now, let’s get going!


(we suggest you read everything at least once before doing anything)

1) Wash the rice thoroughly. We recommend using a made-for-purpose rice-washing bowl (like this one, for example), but failing that, simply rinse it thoroughly with cold water using a bowl and a sieve. You will probably need to rinse it 4–5 times, but with practice, it will only take a few seconds per rinse, and the water will be coming up clear.

2) Warm the pan. It doesn’t matter for the moment whether you’re using an electronic rice cooker, a stovetop pressure cooker, electronic pressure cooker, or just a sturdy pan with a heavy lid available, aside from that if it’s something non-stovetop, you now want it to be on low to warm up already.

3) Separately in a saucepan, bring your stock to a simmer

4) Put the tbsp of olive oil into the pan (even if you’re confident the rice won’t stick; this isn’t entirely about that) and turn up the heat (if it’s a very simple rice cooker, most at least have a warm/cook differentiation; if so, turn it to “cook”). You don’t want the oil to get to the point of smoking, so, to test the temperature as it heats, flick a single drop of water from your fingertip (you did wash your hands first, right? We haven’t been including that step, but please do wash your hands before doing kitchen things) into the pan. If it sizzles, the pan is hot enough now for the next step.

5) Put the rice into the pan. That’s right, with no extra liquid yet; we’re going to toast it for a moment. Stir it a little, for no more than a minute; keep it moving; don’t let it burn! If you try this several times and fail, it could be that you need a better pan. Treat yourself to one when you get the opportunity; until then, skip the toasting part if necessary.

6) Add the chia seeds and spices, followed by the stock, followed by the yeast extract. Why did we do the stock before the yeast extract? It’s because hot liquid will get all the yeast extract off the teaspoon 🙂

7) Put the lid on/down (per what kind of pan or rice cooker you are using), and turn up the heat (if it is a variable heat source) until a tiny bit of steam starts making its way out. When it does, turn it down to a simmer, and let the rice cook. Don’t stir it, don’t jiggle it; trust the process. If you stir or jiggle it, the rice will cook unevenly and, paradoxically, probably stick.

8) Do keep an eye on it, because when steam stops coming out, it is done, and needs taking off the heat immediately. If using an automatic rice cooker, you can be less attentive if you like, because it will monitor this for you.

Note: if you are using a simple pan with a non-fastening lid (any other kind of rice cooking setup is better), more steam will escape than the other methods, and it’s possible that it might run out of steam (literally) before the rice is finished. If the steam stops and you find the rice isn’t done, add a splash of water as necessary (the rice doesn’t need to be submerged, it just needs to have liquid; the steam is part of the cooking process), and make a note of how much you had to add (so that next time you can just add it at the start), and put it back on the heat until it is done.

9) Having taken it off the heat, let it sit for 5 minutes (with the lid still on) before doing any fluffing-up. Then you can fluff-up and serve, adding the garnish if you want one.


Want to learn more?

For those interested in some of the science of what we have going on today:

Take care!

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