Simplify rice cooking with a new method

Nealey Dozier

I struggled for years with cooking a simple pot of rice. Even after culinary school, where teachers practically drilled the water-to-rice ratio into our brains, mine still came out crispy, crunchy, mushy or burnt.

Thankfully, a friend pointed me to Alton Brown’s recipe for red beans and rice, noting that it changed the way she cooked rice forever. The method, which calls for toasting rice in a skillet and then pouring boiling water over the top, turned out the most fluffy, perfectly cooked rice I had ever tasted.

There are a few reasons why this method works. Toasting the rice enhances its flavors — just like when we toast spices or nuts — and I personally find it improves the finished texture of the dish. Secondly, by boiling water separately and then pouring it over the rice to simmer, you eliminate any guesswork.

One of the problems I find with rice is that, depending on the size of the pot and the strength of the burner, the amount of time it requires to come to a boil can vary greatly. This means the overall cooking time is going to vary significantly, as a result. Brown’s method means cooking time is the same, no matter your stove. (Brilliant, right?)

The last, and very important, step is to rest the rice for 10 minutes off the heat. This allows the moisture to redistribute, keeping the rice supple and soft. Once the rice has rested, fluff it gently with a fork, but do not keep stirring or you could end up with mush.

This amped-up rice with ginger and edamame is a zesty spin-off of my base recipe, with lots of zingy heat from the ginger and a boost of color (and nutrients) from frozen edamame. And while the recipe is great paired with practically anything, I especially like it paired with a saucy dish; the rice soaks up the sauce, making it an irresistible dinner combination.

Edamame-Ginger Rice

1 3/4 cups water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil

1 cup jasmine rice

1 large shallot, finely chopped

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed

Bring the water to a boil in a medium pot. Meanwhile, melt butter (or add olive oil) in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat until sizzling. Add the rice, shallot, ginger, and kosher salt and cook, stirring frequently, until toasted and aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the edamame, then pour the boiling water over the rice. Stir to combine.

Cover and reduce heat to medium-low to low and cook for exactly 20 minutes (add an extra 5 minutes if cooking brown rice). Remove the pot from the heat and keep covered for an additional 10 minutes to allow rice to rest. Uncover, fluff gently with a fork and add more salt and pepper to taste. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 294 calories; 9 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 28 percent calories from fat); 44 g carbohydrates; 2 g sugar; 16 mg cholesterol; 370 mg sodium; 9 g protein; 3 g fiber.