Two methods for fluffy rice
Most professional cooks believe that using just enough water for the rice to absorb it all during cooking is the best way to ensure light grains that don’t stick together. Some also insist that rice should be washed before cooking to remove excess starch, or allowed to soak for thirty minutes.
The instructions below are suitable for white, long-grain rice, but for brown rice you will need to extend the cooking time to about 25-30 minutes, and for Basmati rice reduce it to about eight to ten minutes.
1. Measure the rice by volume in a measuring jug, allowing 50-90ml (2-3fl oz) of rice per person. Put the rice aside and measure out twice as much water or chicken stock as rice.
2. Place the liquid in a pan and bring it to the boil. Add the rice and 2.5ml (1tsp) salt per 285ml (1/2 pint) of liquid. Bring the liquid back to the boil immediately after adding the rice and salt. Stir once.
3. Cover the pan with a tightly fitting lid and turn the heat right down. Leave the rice to cook gently without lifting the lid.
4. Open the pan after about 15 minutes. The water should all have been absorbed, and the rice should be tender but still firm. If some water remains, cook the rice uncovered for two to three minutes until the pan is dry. Stir the rice with a fork to separate the grains; then serve.
Rice in the oven
You can save on fuel bills by cooking rice in the oven alongside other dishes. Use the same measures as above, but put the rice and salt into a casserole dish and pour in the boiling liquid. Stir well and cover the dish tightly. Cook at 180°C (350° F/Gas Mark 4) for about 35-40 minutes for white rice or one hour for brown.
Allow 570ml (1 pint) of water or chicken stock for each 50-90ml (2-3fl oz) portion of rice. Bring the liquid to the boil in a large pan. Add the rice and half a teaspoon of salt per serving. Boil fast for 12-15 minutes for white rice, 25-30 minutes for brown, or eight to ten minutes for Basmati.
Taste a few grains. They should be soft but not soggy. If the rice is not quite done, continue boiling, testing frequently. When ready, drain the rice into a sieve and rinse it with boiling water.
If you prefer, you can let the rice dry in the oven. Spread it out evenly in a shallow, warmed dish and give it ten minutes, uncovered, in the centre of an oven preheated to 160°C (325°F/Gas Mark 3).
Rescuing rice disasters
Soggy or sticky rice
Pack rice that has stuck together into a lightly oiled ring mould, then bake it in a fairly hot oven for about ten minutes. Turn the rice ring out onto a serving plate, fill the centre with cooked vegetables, decorate with a few sprigs of fresh herbs, and serve.