Want to stretch your food budget by making an inexpensive, ethnic meal? You can’t get any more deliciously ethnic than white rice (I grew up loving white rice, so please bear with me). Not only is white rice the perfect carbohydrate for any meal, a single fifty pound bag will cost you $20 and feed your family for many days to come.
The only expensive thing about white rice is the $120 rice maker.
Here’s how you can make perfect rice every time, even if you don’t have a top-of-the-line rice cooker. (Cheaper rice cookers just don’t do a decent job, as any true white rice connoisseur will tell you.)
The perfect white rice technique simply requires a pot, the lid to the pot (very important), and an old pie tin. Use an old throw-away pie tin or one that you buy for $.10 at a garage sale. The pie tin you accidently didn’t return to Marie Calendar’s restaurant will also work just as well.
Now for the secret to perfection: fill the pot with rice based on how much you want to cook. One handful of rice roughly equals one cooked serving. You do need to use at least 3 handfuls so that there’s enough rice to cover the bottom of the pot. Then fill the pot with water.
Wait, but how much water?
Stick a finger straight down into the pot with your fingertip just touching the rice. Fill with enough water that the water level comes up to the first notch, aka joint, in your finger. That’s the perfect level of water every time. This measurement technique works with all sorts of rice EXCEPT sticky rice. And most finger sizes, strangely enough.
Put the open pot of rice on medium heat and let it boil until the water level has dropped to the same level as the rice. This means that you can’t see the rice floating in water anymore. You’ll see little dimples of air pocket in the rice. Lower the heat down to a simmer, very low heat. Put a lid on the pot. Slide the pie tin underneath the pot so that it evens out the heat distribution.
Cook the rice until the water is all gone. Check after 8 minutes and pretty regularly thereafter (stoves have different heat levels). Do a taste check, then occasionally stir the rice around. Once the rice is soft and tender and no water is left, you are done.
Except for the rest of the meal, of course.
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