Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Jasmine Rice

(absorption method)

Jasmine rice comes from Thailand, mostly. There is very little not to like about this snow-white, delicious, long grain rice. Jasmine rice is also quick-cooking, but that should not be a selling point!

Rice is the most important food crop in the world. It is a source of calories and protein and is very easy to digest, not to mention that rice goes with everything. Having said all this might prompt the thought: that if hundreds of millions eat rice daily, cooking it must be a fairly straightforward process. It is not; there is more going on than meets the eye.
In the first place, selecting a pan to cook the rice in provides some nuance. The pan needs to be wider than it is high, and have a well-fitting lid. The reason is that absorption method rice cooking yields poor results when too great a depth of rice and water are used. Since rice is cooked by steam rising from the water in the bottom of the pot, too much rice will act as a dam against the steam. The result is firm, bullet-like grains on top and something like rice pudding on the bottom of the pan.

The next step is to wash the rice. Why wash the rice? A better question is: why not wash the rice? Asian cooks wash rice as a matter of course, pouring off starch, talc and other grit from the milling process. On the other hand, American rice package directions say not to wash the rice. The reason is that American rice has been "enriched," which means that vitamins have been put back into the rice to replace the ones that were lost during milling.
Jasmine rice should be washed.
Measure the rice and put it into the cooking vessel. Run some cold water into it and swirl it around with two fingers. Pour off the cloudy water. Repeat four or five times, until the water is getting clear.

After pouring off the last of the washing water, add 1 1/2 cups of of cold water for every cup of rice. Add a smidge of salt here if desired; if you don't salt it here, you probably will at table in some way. Bring the rice and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Give it one stir during this process just in case any grains glue themselves to the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat down very low, cover the pan, and set a timer for exactly 15 minutes. Have a clean towel or a couple sheets of thick paper towel ready. When the timer goes off, remove the covered pan from the heat. At the same moment put the towel or towels between the pan and its lid. Set the timer for 5 more minutes.

During that 5 minutes, the toweling will stop condensation of the steam on the lid of the pan, making for plump and non-gummy rice grains. After 5 minutes, remove the lid and fluff the rice with the back of a large soup spoon.
I think this method of fluffing does less damage than using a fork or a cook's fork.

Jasmine rice can also be cooked by the open kettle method, but that's another article.

Posted by our chef Joe Lagodney

1 comment:

peter said...

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Thanks for everything,
Chef Peter McGreck