Once upon a time I was quite good at cooking rice. I never even thought about the process, it seemed so simple: in a pan with some cold water, bring to the boil, cook for ten minutes, check every so often and, voilà, lovely fluffy rice. Then along the way two things happened: first, my ex-boyfriend became a real expert on all things foodie and I stopped cooking so often, since he was much better and his rice, well his rice was, is always perfect and, second, I learnt how to cook Thai food (albeit a taught-to-Westerners-travelling-through-tourist-spots version of it). Now, you’re perhaps wondering, why should learning about Thai food upset my knowledge of how to cook rice? Well, once I started making my own curry paste and soups, I also started cooking jasmine or basmati rice, instead of the more usual easy-cook long-grain variety. And every time I ended up with sticky rice. Not deliberately sticky in a good way, more sticky in a clogged-up-detracts-from-the-rest-of-the-dish way.
So, for the last couple of years, although my curries have been improving, I have pretty much given up on making them since I never have decent rice to go with them. I did start thinking about getting a rice cooker but I barely have room for saucepans in my kitchen so more gadgetry was not the right solution. Then, aha, of course, Bill Granger’s new book came to my rescue. In the past week, I have made two perfect pots of rice, one to accompany thit heo keo, and another just to see if a half-recipe worked as well as a full one (it does). The things I was doing wrong? Not measuring the rice and water, lifting the lid of the saucepan instead of leaving it covered for the duration of the cooking time, and not timing it exactly. I realise that this isn’t a ‘proper’ whole-dish recipe but, honestly, it’s too good not to share. Suddenly the thought of a green chicken curry is so much more enticing…oh and, of course, lots of leftover steamed rice means fried rice too. But that’s a recipe for another day. I hope this very simple solution gives you as much pleasure as it has already given me.
Perfect steamed rice (adapted from Bill’s Everyday Asian)
For two-three portions you will need:
jasmine or basmati rice, 200g (1 cup)
1. Rinse the rice in a sieve until the water runs clear then drain.
2. Put the rice and water in a lidded saucepan over a medium heat and bring to the boil.
3. Once the water is boiling, cover the pan, lower the heat (you want a simmer, not a bubble) and leave to cook for 12 minutes. Don’t be tempted to lift the lid.
4. After 12 minutes, take the pan off the heat and leave to stand for another 10 minutes. Keep resisting the urge to lift the lid.
5. You should now have perfectly separate and cooked grains of rice which barely need fluffing. Serve.