On rice

| Comments (4) | Food
Joe Hall is a man of good taste but his recommendations for making rice omit some important information:
  • Buy good rice. Depending on taste, you can go with either jasmine rice or basmati rice. Do not get Uncle Ben's, which has been "converted" so it cooks faster. All you really need to know here is that Uncle Ben's is owned by Mars, the company that makes M&Ms.
  • Buy a rice cooker. You can make perfectly good rice in a pot, but it requires a bit of attention to take it off the stove when it's done. Rice cookers automatically shut off when the rice is finished [technical note: the way this works for cheap rice cookers is simple and elegant, and makes use of the fact that a boiling liquid stays at the boiling point. There's a thermostat which automatically shuts off the heat when the temperature goes above 100C, indicating the water has boiled away]. A good rice cooker will then go into a warming mode. You don't need something expensive here. I think I paid $25 for mine.
  • You can make a variety of cheap and easy dishes by mixing them into the rice while it cooks. For instance, coconut rice by substituting some of the coconut milk for water, lentils or beans and rice by mixing in the add-in with the rice and adjusting the water accordingly. Lentils, rice, and a little spices (you can basically just throw them into the rice cooker; no doubt there's a more high-end prep, but this works fine) makes a fairly complete meal with about 5 minutes of prep time.
  • If you live in an area with minimal rice choices, look for an ethnic (Chinese, Indian...) food store, which will often have cheap, high quality rice in big bags.

That is all.

4 Comments

All you really need to know here is that Uncle Ben's is owned by Mars, the company that makes M&Ms.

That actually doesn't tell you anything about the taste or nutrition of Uncle Ben's. You usually don't make such careless statements.

Your "converted" link goes to the "instant rice" wikipedia page, but the "parboiled rice" page is more appropriate. Converted rice has more nutrients than white rice. And, although converted rice is what made Uncle Ben's famous, they sell other kinds, too.

I just looked in our kitchen and we have two kinds of basmati (one from India and one from Lundberg in California), three kinds of brown rice, and a 12-pound sack of Uncle Ben's Original, which my wife bought a couple of months ago when she was worried that the food distribution system might collapse at any moment.

A big +1 to getting an inexpensive rice cooker. Having one makes it about ten times more likely that you will actually make rice on an evening that you are tired. The small ("three cup") cookers have fewer features but have the huge advantage of being small enough to leave on the countertop, so even in extreme laziness, you don't have to pull it out of the cabinet. The cheap Panasonic one has worked fine for us for a few years.

Rice cookers are awesome. So are M+M's. Clearly not belgian chocolate, but they have their place.

drop the jasmin rice and go for Calrose. much better taste imho.

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