Betty Says: Measure. Cook Rice

Rice did not make a good first impression with me; it bubbled over once or twice (I have to watch this pan? Boring.), tasted either too dry or way too moist, and it did this to my pan:

burnt rice

Multiply that by at least ten, though. The pan was sacrificed, and there wasn’t even a good spoonful of rice to show for it.

From there, I learned my first tip: spray that pan! PAM it, or if you’re not a fan of oil via aerosol, just put a drop on a paper towel and spread it around. The other thing you should do is refrain from burning the rice. That helps immensely.  (Image source)

I avoided cooking this fluffy grain for at least a few years after destroying at least two pans. I was also of the Mitch Hedberg opinion, “Rice is great if you’re hungry, and want 2,000 of something.”  Only on rare occasion did I crave 2,000 of anything.

The next very important lesson that I learned with rice: measure {very} carefully. This didn’t really fit my care-free (read: reckless) kitchen personality, and I chalked up my lack of rice-cooking-skills to failure. I can’t cook rice very well– that’s something I can live with.

Cooked Rice

Fast forward two years, and suddenly I’ve decided to buy long-grain brown rice in bulk from Whole Foods. I also bought some “Wild Rice”, because that sounded more interesting. By the time we moved in August, I was tired of having two containers of rice taking up space, so they were combined.

It’s been housed in one large glass container for five months now, and Betty finally inspired me to give it another try. Chipotle may have had some influence here, too – their burrito bowls with rice get me every time!

In the very first section, Cooking Basics, I realized I’ve been breaking a cardinal kitchen rule for a long time – dry vs. wet measuring cups.

Those on the left are intended for dry ingredients only*. The cups on the right are meant for wet ingredients only. I know this rule, but I cave entirely out of laziness sometimes (wash more than one set of measuring cups? Tough life.)

dry_measuring_cupswet measuring cups

*Also referred to as Graduated Nesting Measuring Cups (you know, because they can all sit inside each other, “nesting”).

Alright, Betty, let’s have your rice tips!

  • Measure the water and rice carefully – in their respective dry/wet specific cups!
  • Do NOT STIR while it’s cooking. Risotto is the only exception.
  • When it’s done cooking, fluff with a fork to separate the grains.
  • “Perfectly Cooked Rice: the grains are fluffy and separate from each other.”
  • My addition (I can say this, because I think she would agree): add a little bit of butter or oil, once it’s done cooking. I add either 1/2 – 1 Tbsp butter or 1/2 Tbsp olive oil before “fluffing”. It adds just the right amount of flavor and texture!

Rice and veggies Instagram

Last night, I cooked 1.5 cups of dry rice (yielding ~3 cups cooked*).

1.5 c dry brown rice
3 c water
Salt/pepper shakes
1 Tbsp butter

Bring water to a boil. Add rice and stir gently to separate it around the pan (vs. the lump it sits in when you dump it out of the measuring cup). Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 35-40 minutes (check the rice after about 30- 35 minutes and assess!). Once the water appears to be all absorbed, remove from heat, add in oil/butter, fluff with a fork and let sit for ~5 more minutes before serving.

For our stir-fry, we sliced and sautéed 1/2 yellow & red pepper, 1/4 yellow onion and 1 c of mushrooms. Add in a little bit of low-sodium soy sauce (~1 Tbsp) and any seasoning you’re craving. Ours also had chopped tempeh, but add in your protein of choice! Mix with the rice, and voila! Dinner is served.

*I always make this in batches, because it’s rare that I want to spend 40-45 minutes tending to rice. Leftovers are a bonus!

What are your rice-cooking tips? Anything you would to our list?

Favorite rice dish (Leftovers = needing ideas)?

{“Fluff” word-usage count: 5}



Filed under food, in the kitchen, learning, recipes

12 responses to “Betty Says: Measure. Cook Rice

  1. Laurie

    I don’t love Pam/mystery oil in an aerosol can, but I have one of these:

    …and it’s awesome! You use whatever oil you want, and pump it yourself (like a Super Soaker!) so it’s more health- and environment-friendly.

    I’ve never tried spraying the rice pot, but that’s a great idea!

  2. Christine

    Using a thicker pot helps immensely. I have a very thick cast iron pot, that works beautifully, almost never have burned rice when I use it. Being so thick, it creates more even heat and you don’t get those “hot spots” that result in burned rice. And on the rare occasion that it does burn, I can scrub away with whatever is needed to get it clean without worrying about damaging the pot. Also, the lower you can keep the heat, the better.

  3. ali

    i used to be of the measure perfect school, but recently learned a new fantastic foolproof “easy” way to cook rice. Cook it like pasta!!!! yes, really. measure out the amount of rice you want and add to pot of water and just boil away. taste the rice to check for doneness and when it is almost done but not overcooked drain it like pasta then pop it back in the pot an put the lid on to finish steaming. voila! and this works for a cup of rice or a gallon of rice! enjoy 🙂

    • Heather C

      I’ve heard this with quinoa, but not rice! Interesting…

      Do you drain it carefully with a lid? Or a strainer (seems like that wouldn’t work,ha)? I’m intrigued!

      • ali

        for a small amount you could use the lid and it’s okay if a little water remains because when you put the lid back on to let it steam a bit more it will all evaporate. if you were doing a large amount i would cook it a bit longer and use a mesh strainer (but i am guessing most people don’t have the need to cook a gallon of rice like i do… i’m a chef 🙂

  4. Hmm, I always use the same measuring cup for the water and the rice. Oops.

  5. rice is something I can cook! I win today!

    also, different measuring cups? no.

  6. I’m impressed… I rely heavily on our rice cooker! We go through a lot of brown rice, and I love that I don’t have to think about it and it’s done perfectly every time. Feels a bit like cheating, but it’s been worth it. 🙂

  7. Mamacita

    Yes when fixing rice – I measure carefully. Looking forward to your next “Betty” blog. Love, Mamacita

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