A confession. I just recently learned how to cook rice on the stovetop properly. Growing up in Asia, I have always used a Rice Cooker to cook my Rice. It turns out perfectly every time.
When I was in college and began experimenting with different cuisines, I made Spanish Rice from scratch using a stovetop. Although I tried to follow the recipe exactly, the result was not what I expected. I tried again, but the Rice was still dry, chewy or soggy. That is until a strong tropical storm struck my area a few months ago. We lost power for several days. I couldn’t get to the grocery store because the roads were blocked. I was fortunate to have a bag of 20-pound Rice in my pantry. Although I could not use the rice cooker, I could use my gas range.
In my candlelit kitchen, I attempted to make rice on the stovetop. My first attempt at making Rice on the stovetop failed. It was still chewy in the middle, so it was again undercooked. Following that experience, I learned how to cook rice on the stovetop properly and rescue it from disaster.
How to Cook Rice Properly — and What Could Go Wrong
Properly cooked Rice is Rice that’s fluffy, soft and not soggy. This can be achieved by using the right ratio of Rice to water. It varies depending on the type of Rice being cooked.
After you have the water and rice ratios right, cook the Rice at the correct temperature for the required time. The Rice will not fully cook if the heat is too high. Rice that isn’t hydrated enough can become dry and crispy. If you don’t cook your Rice for enough time, the Rice will become soft and not cook through.
It would help if you also considered variables specific to your kitchen. For example, how hot your stove is, whether it runs on gas or electric, and how thick or small your pot is. Even if all these things are correct, you might still end up with undercooked Rice. These are some tips to help you save your undercooked Rice.
How to fix undercooked Rice
How to fix undercooked Rice with the liquid left in the pot
This is a simple one! You can continue cooking the Rice if the Rice becomes too hard after the cooking time. Cook the rice on low heat for five more minutes, with the lid, closed. You can adjust the time according to how firm your Rice is. Let the pot cool for 10 minutes, then fluff it and serve.
How to fix Rice that is too dry and has no liquid left in the pot
You will need to add more water if your Rice becomes dry or undercooked at the end. Cook the Rice for 5 minutes more with 1/4 cup of boiling water. Keep the flame at low heat. Next, take the pot off the stove and allow it to sit for 10 minutes without the lid. Serve the Rice by fluffing it with a rice paddle, fork, or spoon.
How to Make Rice Al Dente With No Leftover Liquid
Al dente is often used to describe cooking pasta. However, it can also refer to Rice soft and moist outside but still firm in the middle. This texture is not what I want. This refers to Rice that is closer to done than dry Rice. However, it can also describe Rice that is soft and moist on the outside but still firm in the middle. You can also buy a rice steamer specifically designed for the microwave. Microwave rice until it becomes soft and steam starts rising. This takes about 2 minutes. The microwave’s high heat creates steam in the bowl and lid which cooks the Rice but doesn’t dry it. Alternatively, you can heat the pot on low heat for 2 more minutes. After the timer is up, take the pot off the stove and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Use a rice paddle, fork or fork to fluff the Rice.
How to fix Rice that’s Lightly Uncooked and with no liquid left in the pot.
Your Rice is almost done when the grains are just a little chewy but not too dry. This stage is known as al dente. You can skip further cooking on the stovetop and microwave. Place the Rice in a glass baking tray. It would be best if you did not press the Rice down. It is not a good idea to make rice cakes. Bake covered for 10 minutes or until rice is softened.
A Few words about Overcooked Rice
You’re likely to have overcooked the Rice at least once. You can salvage some rice if you try to spoon it and notice that the bottom is charred to soot. There’s always a silver lining if the Rice is lightly charred and crisp. Heat water in a saucepan. Add the Rice to the pot. Stir the water into the Rice and make sungnyung. This nutty beverage is a wonderful after-dinner digestif.
Unfortunately, Rice that is too soggy or mushy (usually due to too much water) can make it difficult to use as a side dish. However, it’s perfectly fine for other dishes. A soupy Japanese okayu (rice porridge) is one of my favourites uses for mushy Brown Rice. I add water to the mixture for a quick lunch, then mix in beaten eggs and add some chopped scallions.