When I told my family I was going to write a post about rice, my brother asked, “Why would you do that? Everyone knows how to make rice.” It was followed by a grin and an irritated look. My brother, Eric, is never afraid to share his opinion. Did I tell you that already?
I don’t think so, Eric. People may know how to make rice, but not rice like we make it. It’s a plain rice. The only ingredients are oil, salt, garlic, and water. It tastes NOTHING like the instant rice.
Now, there are two ways my family makes rice. Rinsing it beforehand and not rinsing.
Growing up, rinsing was the only way I saw my Mom, Tía Renee, and my grandmother, Mama Maria, make rice. Why do you rinse? Well, I was told you had to wash the rice to get the starch out so it’s less sticky and you want to make sure nothing else is in there. Ewww. I would watch them measure the rice in a measuring cup, then pour cold water to cover. They would put their hand in the cup and twist their hand as if putting on a light bulb. Twist and twist and twist. The water would turn white. Then most of the water would be poured out using their slightly opened fingers to stop the rice from pouring out along with the water. Then more water was added and twist and twist and twist. They would do this at least three times. Finally, the rice was drained using a sieve because you don’t want added water to the amount already in the recipe. Rinsing made the rice fluffier and not sticky. Delicious.
Now, my Tío Joe, always the rebel in the family, doesn’t rinse rice before cooking. It wasn’t always this way. Now, he decided to go to the dark side…I found this out when I was eating over his house and he started to cook the rice. I was standing there talking to him about something or other because my Tío Joe knows about EVERYTHING in life and he is always right! He’s an encyclopedia of information. I watched him prepare the rice. He measured out what he needed and added it to the pot without rinsing.
Me: Tío! What are you doing! You forgot to rinse the rice! You know you are supposed to rinse the rice. What if something was in there that isn’t rice?
Tío Joe: Looking at me with that irritated grin. It’s a grin he uses when he knows he just did something to get a reaction from us. He knew he would get a reaction, which is what he wanted, but still the grin looks irritated. “Ahhhh, come on, Natalie! What’s the matter with you? You don’t have to rinse the rice. I bet your mother told you that, huh? She just wanted to mess with you. These days the rice is cleaner and it’s checked before packaging. And if there is something in there then call it protein.” Then he would laugh because the face I made was probably priceless.
Well, I ate the rice. The rice was good! Maybe a little stickier but I like that. Nothing out of the ordinary. Hey, all that time and I didn’t have to rinse, twist and twist and twist and drain. What the heck?
Still, when I go to my Mom’s or if I see Tía Renee making rice, they rinse, and twist and twist and twist and drain over and over. “Hey, why do you rinse the rice? Tío Joe doesn’t rinse the rice.” There’s that irritated grin again but this time from my Mom and Tía Renee. Geez, I thought Tío Joe owned that look but I guess it runs in the family.
Mom: “AHHHH, Natalie! What’s the matter with you? You HAVE to rinse the rice.”
Tía Renee: “Ah come on, we always rinse the rice.”
Me: “Well, Tío Joe doesn’t rinse the rice.”
Mom: “Ahhhh, Joe! Do you always believe your uncle Joe? Do you always DO what Joe says? If he says jump do you jump?”
Me: “Well, his rice is good. Now, I don’t rinse the rice either.”
Mom and Tía Renee: “Well, remind us not to eat your rice. Or Joe’s either!”
Then I would stick my tongue out at them.
Then they both stick their tongues out at me.
Then we all laugh and say stuff about Tío Joe. Hahahaha!!!
Ah, man. People can have so much fun cooking with their family in the kitchen. The sharing, the laughing, the insults, the yelling…it’s all good. I hope you all take the time to experience that.
Now, here’s the how to…
Using a 1 1/2 or 2 quart saucepan…
Add 1 tablespoon or so of oil – canola, vegetable, or safflower to the pan.
Sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of table salt. I use table salt here – Diamond Crystal brand. I mention this because some salts are saltier than others. If you use a different salt, you will need to adjust. I know it breaks my rule of using only table salt for baking and kosher for cooking but this is how we have always made it.
Sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of granulated garlic powder. I always use granulated.
Put the heat on medium high. Measure out 1 1/2 cups of water (the way Mom and Tía Renee make it) or 1 3/4 cups of water (the way Tío Joe and I make it).
Now look into the pan. The garlic powder just starts to turn the slightest color. Pay attention here. You do NOT want the garlic to burn. Trust me. I have done that so many times. Just when you start to smell it or it turns the slightest shade darker than it was a second ago, carefully and slowly pour in the water.
Rinse or don’t rinse 1 cup of rice. If you like it fluffy and each grain its own being then rinse. If you like it a little sticky and are lazy like me, don’t rinse.
Stir in the rice.
Wait for it to come to a boil. When it comes to a boil, turn the heat to a low simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes.
Shut off the heat and let it sit while you set your table or whatever. Or don’t let it sit and eat it right away. There isn’t a rulebook here.
Enjoy your rice with anything. I will post many recipes that are wonderful with rice. Check back soon. Also, in another post, I will have to describe the crusty, crunchy, rice on the bottom of the pan that is infused with garlic, salt, and oil and how to achieve that crust. It’s called concolon and it’s amazing. I didn’t do it here because my kids already complained to me that this post is too long!
- 1 tablespoon oil - canola, vegetable, or safflower
- 1 teaspoon table salt (I use Diamond Crystal)
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
- 1 cup long grain white rice
- 1½ cups water (1¾ cups if you like it stickier)
- Add the oil to a 1½ or 2 quart saucepan.
- Sprinkle in the salt and garlic powder, covering bottom of pan.
- Put the heat on medium high.
- When the garlic powder just starts to turn the slightest color, carefully pour in the water.
- Rinse or don't rinse your rice. If you like it fluffy and each grain its own being then rinse. If you like it a little sticky don't rinse.
- Stir in the rice.
- Wait for the water to come to a boil. When it comes to a boil, turn the heat to a low simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes. Fluff it up with fork.
- ¡Al Ataque!