Grains are an easy and cheap base or side for any meal – simply bring your liquid to a boil and add in your grain. The trick is remembering the liquid-to-grain ratios for your favorite grain. Samin Nosrat, author of SALT, FAT, ACID, HEAT, shares her perfect ratio chart.
Every time I see all the fancy rice makers lined up on the shelf at an Asian grocery, I convince myself that I need one. After all, I do eat a lot of rice, and the machines are all so cute! Then I snap out of it. For one thing, I don’t have the space for another kitchen machine. And, more important, I already know how to cook rice!
My theory is that marketing geniuses have planted false seeds of rice-making despair in the minds of home cooks around the world. Think about it: rice is one of the oldest cultivated foods on the planet. If cooks hadn’t figured out how to make it properly, I’m fairly certain the human race wouldn’t have made it.
It’s really not so hard. Steaming is my preferred way to cook rice for weeknight dinners, because it’s quick and simple, yet the grains have the chance to absorb the flavors of the cooking liquid.
Find a variety of rice you love to eat, and grow comfortable cooking it, over and over again. My standbys are basmati, jasmine, and a Japanese variety called haiga, which is milled to preserve its nutritious germ yet cook quickly. As with everything, the more often you cook rice, the more proficient you’ll grow to be. The most important variable when cooking rice is to get the right ratio of liquid to grain.
Basmati and jasmine rices are traditionally both rinsed multiple times until the water runs clear, but for a typical weeknight dinner, I don’t usually bother. Save the rinsing step for dinner parties.
Refer to the following chart for liquid-to-grain ratios and remember the rule of thumb, 1 cup of uncooked rice will serve 2 to 3 people. Simply bring your chosen liquid—water, stock, and coconut milk all work well—to a boil, season it generously with salt, and add the rice (or quinoa, which I like to cook the same way).
Reduce to a very gentle simmer, cover, and cook until the liquid has all been absorbed and the grains are tender. Let it rest covered for 10 minutes after you turn off the heat. And, apart from risotto—which is an entirely different story—never, ever stir rice while it’s cooking. Just fluff it with a fork before serving.
Now that you’ve got your grains set, here’s how to prepare your healthy protein.