Do this not that! Series 1 Part 1
Hey guys! We’ll be starting a new series this week. In this series we would be focusing more on common mistakes made while cooking as I believe that it’s just as important to learn new recipes as it is to have a handle on old ones. So ensure you take note of everything in this series.
I’m sure you’ll agree with me that the best place to start from is our good ol’ Rice,the most staple food in Nigeria. (Hit the comments box let’s argue it out if you don’t agree…lol)
Boiling rice seems simple and easy. When asked how it’s is done, you might say “put the rice in water, boil till soft and add salt to taste”. While this statement is true, there are more things to consider that may help you achieve the best possible outcome; one that doesn’t involve oversoft, clumped or salty rice.
As a person who learns best from past kitchen mistakes (don’t we all? ..lol.) I put together a list of some mistakes you probably make while cooking rice. Some are more common while there are some you may not have even thought about. Don’t take them as criticism—they’re, more or less, cautions to improve at cooking your rice so that you can get the best possible results whether it’s plain boiled rice or for your rice recipes.
Mistake 1: Forgetting to rinse
Rinsing your rice removes the dirt and starch. Less starch equals less gummy rice, which I’m sure we all desire. Hence you should rinse your rice till the water is clear.
Mistake 2: Not stirring the rice once or Overstirring
When you initially put your rice into boiling water, give it just one stir to keep the grains from clumping and avoid a center of uncooked, hard rice. After that resist any temptation to place a spoon in the water and twirl.This is the worst mistake that you can make while cooking rice and will most certainly result in a sticky, starch-filled result as stirring makes the rice emit more starch.
Nevertheless you might have heard some strong advice to never, ever stir your rice. Personally I go with ‘stir once and never again” . You’ll see the effect of this if you try it yourself (especially in pasta)
Mistake 3: Using the wrong liquid-to-rice ratio
A wrong liquid-to rice-ratio can cause your rice to be over cooked or undercooked and burnt early. Personally, I recommend the two parts liquid to one part rice, or 2:1 ratio for almost all rice dishes. An alternative to this rice-liquid ratio is to put enough water and salt and when the rice is cooked to your satisfaction, sieve off the rest.
I’ll go easy on this one because its not really necessary especially if you buy already parboiled and packaged rice. But there are benefits to parboiling your rice; it prevents you from getting burnt, soggy and undercooked rice, it also gets rid of the excess starch in the rice hence eliminating the cardboard taste associated with rice that wasn’t well washed before cooking.
In addition, it’s much faster and less labourious to parboil your rice and get the excess starch out faster than spending a good amout of time washing the rice till the water is clear.
Mistake 5: The heat is not evenly distributed
You don’t want to end up with rice that is partly cooked on one side of the pot yet overcooked on another side. Hence it is important that the heat is well distributed in the pot that you are using. So, check your gas or stove before you start cooking.
Mistake 6: Go easy on the salt
Can anything be worse than rice that’s too salty? (probably salty fried eggs) Remember all you need is a little salt so to avoid over-salting the rice, use smaller units like a teaspoon (not the top cover of your salt container) to measure the salt or better still add your salt to the boiling water and taste it till you can taste the salt faintly.
Mistake 7: Boiling your rice instead of simmering it
The best way to cook rice is to bring the water to a boil, then add the rice and reduce the heat to a simmer, closing the lid. Don’t just put the rice in the pot to boil along with the water except you plan to parboil the rice.
Mistake 8: You’re lifting the lid
Experts say that one of the factors to take note of is the steam-to-liquid ratio just as the liquid-to-rice ratio. But you shouldn’t bother your head with the theory behind this.
What you need to note is that lifting the lid of the pot releases steam and pressure from the rice. This might cause a drop in temperature, which affects the evenness of the cooking.
Mistake 9: You’re steaming your rice—and not in the good way.
When your rice is cooked, you shouldn’t leave it in the pot especially if you’re not eating it right away. It would steam in a way known as ‘carry-over cooking’ in the kitchen. If your rice is done cooking, make sure you serve it or put it in a food warmer or it will overcook and turn to mush. Another reason why a food warmer is best is that it preserves the heat so you won’t have to re-heat the food multiple times when you want to eat it (or the rice would keep getting softer). Resting the rice after cooking is very important when cooking fried rice.
Mistake 10: Inappropriate cookware or pot lids that don’t fit
The pot that cooks rice the best has a heavy bottom—that way, the heat will distribute evenly. Thinner pots deliver the heat source straight to the delicate rice, which may cause it to burn. A heavier-bottomed pot will also steam the water throughout, allowing it to saturate all the rice grains.
As I’ve said earlier, part of the methodology of cooking rice involves using the correct ratio of liquid to rice and steam to create light, fluffy grains. And if the lid of the pot doesn’t fit, then steam escapes. This also causes the liquid to run thick rivulets of starch down the pot, which is just an inconvenience for cleaning the pot later. Hence it’s always best to get a tight lid.
So that’s all for this week. Hope you learnt something!. We’ll continue next week with common mistakes made while cooking Fried Rice. You wouldn’t want to miss that, would you?.
Love y’all. Please stay safe.