Sunday, 5 September 2010

Perfect rice

Cooking rice (nasi) is one of those things that drives most people nuts. A lot of this is self-inflicted; us British are certainly obsessed with having the rice grains separate, something I'm sure was promoted by Vesta back in the 70s to justify their chewy 'instant' curries.

To most Indonesians, this is half-cooked rice - as their favourite way of eating is with hands only, they prefer a stickier consistency that can easily be grabbed off a plate. Anyway, Mrs K has her own tips and tricks, as usual.

First she gives the rice a good wash - fill the pan three times under the tap, rinsing the rice well each time before discarding the water.

Getting the right amount of water is crucial to success, so Mrs K has her own patented method of estimation that works for any size of saucepan (or person). Fill the pan with rice up to level of the first joint on your index finger, then top up with water until it reaches the second joint. Simples!

Now for the secret ingredients. Mrs K adds a bay leaf, a knob of butter (or margarine) and couple of pinches of salt. Cover, bring to the boil and simmer on a medium heat until there's no water slopping around in the pan, but the rice isn't fully cooked. Give the rice a good stir, cover it again and put it on the smallest burner you have on the lowest heat for another 10 minutes or so.

You may well find that the bottom layers of rice stick to the pan, but don't worry as long as it's not burned (Mrs K like to take this rice 'crust' and fry it as a snack -but that's another post..). The rice will probably seem overcooked for most British tastes, but it's a perfect accompaniment for Mrs K's dishes.

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