Basic white rice is a fantastic side dish for almost any entree, but it can taste a bit plain if not prepared properly. This guide will show you how to make white rice taste better – and teach you all about this amazing grain.
You will unlock your inner chef when you discover different ways to prepare white rice. The sky is the limit! You’ll be able to create any number of new recipes and side dishes. Begin with understanding what rice is and then build with information about how to enhance its flavors.
Becoming a fantastic home chef all starts with a little bit of information. In this guide, you’ll learn how to make white rice taste better, different ways to cook it, and information about all the types of white rice.
Rice Grain Sizes
Let’s start with learning about the different types of rice. Did you know that rice comes in different grain sizes? Here’s what you need to know about the three sizes they come in and the types of rice each grain length includes.
As the name implies, short-grain rice is small and stout. It also contains more starch, so this type of rice tends to be stickier than other varieties. Recipes like sushi or rice pudding use short-grain rice for that very reason.
Since short-grain rice tends to clump together, it’s easier to eat with chopsticks.
Medium-grain rice also tends to stick together, just like small-grain rice. The most common types of medium-grain rice are Arborio, Valencia, Carnaroli, and Bomba. They taste fantastic in risotto because they clump together beautifully. They also add a wonderful starchiness and thickness to bowls of soup.
Long-grain rice is long and slender. The most well-known type of long-grain rice is the aromatic basmati rice that is grown in the Himalayas. Jasmine rice is another popular variety of long-grain rice.
After you cook it, you will notice that these types of rice are light and dry and do not clump together. Many people like to eat long-grain rice in side dishes or just by itself.
Popular Types of White Rice
Before we get to making rice taste better, let’s look at the different types of white rice. Each of them has different flavors and features that will affect how you cook it.
Also known as Minute rice, instant rice is processed, milled, cooked, and then dehydrated. The reason it cooks so quickly is that it just needs some water to rehydrate it again.
Instant rice has less flavor and texture than any other type of rice.
Some types of Instant rice can be reheated in the microwave, and others need to be cooked on the stove.
Jasmine is a very aromatic type of long-grain rice that’s primarily grown in Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. It has a very mild flavor, making it a popular choice for steamed rice or side dishes.
It got its name from the color, resembling the color of the jasmine flower.
Basmati rice is another variety of long-grain rice and is often mistaken for Jasmine (or the other way around). It is grown in the Himalayas, India, and Pakistan. It has a nutty flavor and a floral aroma.
It has such a pronounced flavor that people prefer to enjoy it in rice pilaf or by itself as a bowl of steamed rice.
This type of rice goes by many different names. Some people call it sticky rice or sweet rice. It comes in both long-grain and short-grain varieties. You can tell it is sticky rice by how it naturally clumps together after it is fully cooked.
Sticky rice is used throughout Asia primarily in desserts due to its high starch content. It’s also used to make sushi because it sticks together so well.
How to Make White Rice
There are five common ways to prepare rice, and all have benefits and drawbacks. Each method will give you a different result.
A rice cooker gives you the same type of rice as if you made it on the stovetop. The biggest difference is that the rice cooker can automatically detect the water levels and temperature of the rice and shut off or keep the rice warm when it completes the cooking cycle.
A rice cooker is perfect for anyone who loves eating steamed rice as a side dish and wants to set the rice to cook and forget about it until it beeps and alerts you that it’s done.
One of the benefits of the Instant Pot is that it cooks rice faster than a rice cooker. In the Instant Pot, you can make a bowl of steamed rice in just 15 minutes.
You just place the rice and water into the Instant Pot. Then, seal it completely and pressure cook it on high. After doing a natural pressure release, you are ready to eat.
The stovetop is one of the most common ways to prepare steamed rice. You can even make fried rice in a skillet. Whether you make steamed or fried rice, the results depend on the recipe you follow.
Cooking rice in the microwave works to give you fluffy steamed rice. It still takes about 25 minutes for the rice to cook this way. It’s a fantastic way to prepare rice if you don’t have a stove or rice cooker.
Be careful when you make rice in the slow cooker. It’s really easy to overcook the grain, which will give you gooey rice that might even stick to the sides and bottom of your slow cooker.
Cook the rice on low for 2 1/2 hours. It doesn’t take much longer than that.
How to Make White Rice Taste Better
Now that you know more about the different types of rice and ways to cook it, how do you make it taste better? White rice often has a very mild and bland flavor. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to the rice to enhance the flavor and make even a bowl of plain steamed rice taste delicious.
Cook in Chicken Broth
One of the best ways to make white rice taste better is to cook it in either chicken, vegetable, or beef broth. The type of broth you use depends on the entree you are making with it. For example, if you are making a chicken dish, you should cook the rice in chicken broth or stock.
Broth and stock are very similar ingredients. Stock tends to be slightly thicker, saltier, and more flavorful.
Be careful with how much broth or stock you use. If you want your rice to have a pronounced flavor, then use all broth. If you want the rice to have a mild flavor, mix half water with half broth.
Toast the Rice
Toasting the rice before you steam it is an excellent way to enhance the natural nuttiness in the grains of rice. The easiest way to toast white rice is using a skillet and butter.
- Melt a few tablespoons of butter in a large skillet.
- Add the uncooked white rice and let it saute or cook until the white rice turns golden brown.
- Once you see it change colors, add the correct amount of water or broth.
- Bring it to a boil, and then cover it and simmer it until the rice is fully cooked.
Add Entree Seasonings
Another easy way to make white rice taste better is to incorporate seasonings from the main entree. For example, if you are cooking a chicken tikka masala recipe, add some garam masala to the rice water as it cooks.
This method is a no-brainer and easy for beginning cooks to remember. You don’t have to measure the spices, either. Just add a sprinkle or a dash of the main spices to the rice while it cooks.
If you want the rice to have a bold flavor, add a few more sprinkles of seasoning.
Make it Yellow
Another way to enhance the flavor of cooked rice is to add herbs and spices that change the color from white to yellow. The color itself isn’t as important as how amazing these herbs taste.
Saffron rice is popular in India. This slightly sweet and highly aromatic herb will turn your white rice yellow. It only takes a small amount to create a very tasty rice dish.
Making saffron rice is really simple. Add a bit of saffron to the uncooked rice and cook it in chicken broth. It will come out bright yellow and full of flavor.
Turmeric is another popular herb you can use to change the color and flavor of white rice. This herb is popular in India and Indian cuisine. Just sprinkle a little bit of turmeric in the chicken broth and then cook the rice like normal.
How to Store Uncooked White Rice
If you store white rice correctly, it will last almost indefinitely. The best way to store rice is to keep it in a cool and dry location inside an airtight, sealed container. Keep dust, moisture, and other contaminants out of your uncooked rice.
If you buy a bag of rice, it’s best to transfer the rice to a container that you can seal completely from the outside elements. Do not keep opened bags of rice sitting on your pantry shelf.
How to Store Cooked White Rice
You should store cooked rice in an airtight container or food storage bag and keep it in the refrigerator for up to a week. After about a week, the quality of the rice will deteriorate.
How to Freeze White Rice
It is not necessary to freeze uncooked rice. However, freezing cooked rice will lengthen its life by months, so this can be a fantastic way to make a meal ahead of time.
Here’s how to freeze cooked rice:
- First, spread the cooked rice on a baking sheet or along the bottom of a casserole baking dish.
- Then, put this pan or dish in the freezer.
- When you know the grains of rice are completely frozen, pour them into a freezer-safe food storage bag.
- Place these bags in the freezer until you are ready to reheat them.
FAQs about Cooking Rice
Do you have to wash rice before you cook it?
Yes, you should always rinse your rice before you cook it. This removes excess starch from the rice and reduces the level of arsenic in the rice as well.
Rinsing rice is especially important when you buy bags of rice in bulk. This is because bags of rice might contain weevils. They are very rare, but rinsing your rice will make the weevils float, so you can remove them if they are in your rice.
What is the ratio of water to rice?
The common ratio of water to rice is 2 parts water and 1 part rice. This means that you will cook 1 cup of rice in 2 cups of water or broth. If you want your rice to have a firmer texture, then cook 1 part liquid to 2/3 part rice.
How do you know when rice is ready?
You will know the rice is ready when it absorbs all the water or broth it is cooking in. After you see that the liquid is absorbed, remove it from heat but leave the lid on and let it rest for another 10 minutes. This helps the moisture redistribute so that the bottom layer of rice is as fluffy as the top layer.
Why is my cooked rice sticky?
There are two reasons your rice is sticky: you cooked glutinous (sticky) rice or did not rinse your rice before cooking it. Rinsing your rice removes extra starch so that the rice grains don’t stick together.
More Cooking Tips and Resources
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