Sunday, March 6, 2011


Harry finally called us, and we continue to be convinced that a Hadassah or Young Judaea publicity agent has taken over the body of our son. He was very pleased to see the recipe for Semur Daging on this blog, but wasn't sure how to make the rice that you serve with it.  Hence this entry. 

Harry is now living in Jerusalem in an apartment with 10 people (ok, 18-20 year-old boys/young men, but they are still people).    It can be challenging to fry schnitzel or even boil pasta for that many. But rice is another matter.  All you need is a pot, rice, and water. If you can cook a big pot of  rice, you can make rice and beans, a good cheap dinner.  (See the recipe for Cuban-style black beans.  One day I will post more dal recipes as well.)

I grew up eating Minute Rice, as did many white Americans of my generation.  What where they thinking?  There are few things as gross as Minute Rice, and few things easier to make than proper white rice, even without a rice cooker.  But we have still been served lots of mushy or undercooked rice in our day, and most recipes call for too much water and too much cooking time. Life is far too short to make, serve or eat bad rice.  So I consider it a social service to the public at large, and not only to my son and his roommates  to post my recipe, a simplified version of one published by Pierre Franey in the 60-Minute Gourmet years ago.  He did it European pilaf style, with butter, onions, broth and herbs.  In our house, rice is the stage on which other ingredients perform, so we keep it simple.  Here is how I do it:

White rice:

  • One part long-grain white rice, such as Carolina or Jasmine (there must be something comparable in Israel) -- converted rice (like Uncle Ben's), basmati rice or Japanese-style rice will not work here
  • One and a half parts boiling water
  • salt (optional)
  1. Put the rice in a pot, and turn on the heat.
  2. Pour boiling water over the rice, and shake or stir the pot to be sure the rice doesn't clump.
  3. Put the pot over high heat and bring the water back to the boil. Add a bit of salt if you want.  (I generally don't.)
  4. After the water comes back to the boil, cover the pot, turn the heat to low, and cook for 20 minutes.
  5. Turn off the heat and leave the rice site for at least 5 minutes.  It will stay very warm in the pot, covered, for half an hour or more.

Measuring the rice:  How much rice to make?  There was a time, before people started eating low-carb, when we would make 2 cups of raw rice for a family dinner.  That is now usually one cup.  I would figure that one cup of raw rice is good for about 3-4 adults and 1-2 teens. The nice thing about measuring by part, rather than by cup, is that you can use a coffee cup or whatever is handy.  If you use two coffee cups, clean cans, etc of rice, you use 3 of boiling water and that's that. 

Brown rice:  As with white rice, I find most recipes call for too much water and too much time.  I use a brown basmati or texmati rice here, and the same proportions of rice and water, but no salt.  I cook it for about 40 minutes and let it rest for at least 10, and it generally comes out well cooked, fluffy and not gloppy.

Variation with fat:  Saute the white rice first, using between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon of butter or oil per cup of rice.  Salt this variation.  The rice will change color slightly, which is when you add the water.  Otherwise, it cooks the same way.  This style of rice is better with European and Latin dishes than with Asian ones.

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