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Old 11-02-2011, 07:42 PM   #1
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Rice failures

it's ironic that I keep failing on making rice even though I have been eating rice all my life lol. Making regular steamed rice (well, boiled actually) is fine, but whenever I try to make flavored rice such as paella, jambalaya, biryani, the rice always turns out undercooked (has hard kernel) no matter how long I cook it. I ended up keep putting more water in it and it takes forever, but still has hard kernel. Have you experienced this before?


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Old 11-02-2011, 08:21 PM   #2
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How funny! I almost never mess up flavored rice or even more exotic (jasmine, basmati) rice. But plain rice I mess up occasionally even after decades!

I suspect you're making a mistake I do ... that is the irresistable temptation to keep checking on it. When you've had that failure you want to check it too often. Once that steam evaporates and you stir it too often (rissoto is the exception to this), you're going to get a break-down of the outer part of the rice kernel and the inside stays hard. In my experience if you get the liquid-to-rice proportion right, leave the lid on and leave it alone! But who am I to say? You have the rice I have the hardest time with down pat!

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Old 11-02-2011, 08:33 PM   #3
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One of the tricks I was told to do was to rinse the rice under warm water and massage it with your hands. It is ready to cook when the water runs clear. The other is not to peek <g>.
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Old 11-02-2011, 08:36 PM   #4
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lol yea I agree... I shouldn't open the lid. however paella is different, it doesn't have a lid, and I'm not sure how to "steam" it?
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Old 11-02-2011, 08:48 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by CWS4322 View Post
One of the tricks I was told to do was to rinse the rice under warm water and massage it with your hands. It is ready to cook when the water runs clear. The other is not to peek <g>.
All that is really doing is washing it of any loose debris, and some of the starch that helps to keep it a little stickier(when needed).

As for lifting the lid, it is like a grill. . .every time you open the lid to peek, you can add 5min to the cook time.

If you have a hard core to the rice, the real solution is to cook it longer, plain and simple. Just adjust your liquid accordingly. Also, make sure everything it piping hot, this helps to jump start the process, boil away for like the first 10min or so, then drop to just a simmer for the remainder of the time. This way, the rice won't break down or become gummy, while cooking it through.

A great rule of thumb(or middle finger), add rice to cooking vessel, rest your hand FLAT on top of the rice and fill with water until the water reaches the top of the first knuckle(closest to the wrist) of the middle finger, cover and cook for 28 min.
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Old 11-02-2011, 09:49 PM   #6
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Okay, paella. One of my favorite things. First, paella works best with the correct sort of rice. Best is something like Bomba, a medium grain rice capable of absorbing a lot of liquid. But you can do it with long grain rice, too, with modification. One of the benefits of Bomba is that toward the end of preparation, when you stir in the rice and then the liquid, you don't have to worry too much about adding too much liquid. Bomba will take up a good bit of extra water. No cover with paella. And a rice crust on the bottom is no sin. It can be a prized part of the dish. An no stirring after adding the rice. Just let it cook. It should cook at a good honest simmer. Simmer, not steep.

This next part is common practice, and I find I need to do it this way. Some people seem blessed and able to do it differently, but I have just the problem you experience if I don't do as below.

For flavored rices such as paella, Spanish rice, etc., using long grain rice, you need to do things a bit differently. Essentially, you saute the rice until be begins to visibly brown. You will see it first become translucent except for the core, and then brown slightly. How brown you can tolerate depends on the dish. Quite brown for Spanish rice. Less for lighter colored dishes. Then, you add flavors, etc. You can saute it with other sauteed ingredients. Then, simmer as with paella above. You may get even better results by soaking the rice for an hour first. And a little refinement that can help is, once the rice if nicely browned, hit it with an acid, lemon juice, white wine, etc. Seems to set it up to be more absorbent. I do that even with Arborio rice for rissoto.

And what I think is an important point, with any kind of rice that you saute first. When you add the liquid, water or broth, make sure it's simmering hot when you add it.

But for best results, a rice of the correct characteristics for the dish should be selected from among the great many varieties. They vary greatly. Most places in the US, you can at least find Arborio. It's a short grain, but it has great powers of absorption and can perform well for rissoto (which it's specifically for) and paella.
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Old 11-02-2011, 10:32 PM   #7
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thanks people for the advice! I'll try it soon
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Old 11-20-2011, 01:40 PM   #8
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We don't use regular rice, we usually use Thai jasmine rice. It has better flavor and texture. Also, we use an actual rice steamer. Put a cup rice in it, two cups of water, a pat or two of butter, and if it needs it a dash of salt [we don't salt the water because the water in south texas is already full of salt] Put the top on [it has a vent at the top of one side], plug it in, a light comes on that is orange, push the button down and the light turns red and indicates it is cooking. Since it is an automatic steamer, it is left alone to cook. When the machine thinks the rice is done the lever/button pops up and becomes orange indicating the warm setting. You don't want to leave it too long on warm or you will end up with a big chewy rice cake. I bought the last steamer at a Walmart.

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