It has been said — at least on an inspirational meme — that rice solves all problems. Indeed, rice is a staple in many parts of the world, and the affordable, starchy grain literally gives life to millions of people each day, sometimes for two meals a day (via the Harvard School of Public Health).
Short grain rice, long grain rice, arborio rice, brown rice, black rice, basmati rice, sushi rice: There’s a wide world of rice out there, and other than being classified as rice, they have few things in common (via Consumer Reports). And when it comes to cooking, rice raises many questions: Do you rinse the rice first? How much water do you use? How much rice? Do you stir the rice? (Never, per Bon Appétit.) Is it a good idea to add salt? Can it be made in an Instant Pot?
Rice might seem simple on the surface, but there are a lot of tips, tricks, and expert information out there about cooking a perfect batch of it. Clearly, it’s not as simple as following the directions on the back of the box or bag. As serial cookbook author and celebrated food TV personality Rachael Ray says on Instagram, "Packaged rice directions don’t know your stove.”
Rachael Ray lifts the lid on letting rice rest after cooking
Rachael Ray, whose net worth has steadily rose over the years in congruence with her food career, dishes on cooking perfect rice in a short but savory Instagram reel. "Rice, rice baby,” the "30 Minute Meals" star writes in the post. "Never undercook or overcook your rice ever again.”
Ray’s tip falls more under the category of a "don’t” than a "do,” and could make the difference between almost perfectly cooked rice and actually perfectly cooked rice. If you’re using a pan with a clear lid (like Ray is in the video) and can see that the water is absorbed, resist the urge to remove the lid and give the rice a stir.
"It literally needs to rest with the lid on to finish its process," Ray notes. "You just gotta keep kind of half an eye on it, which is why I always make [husband John Cusimato] babysit it. He’s not here.”
This isn’t the first time Ray has shared a tip or tips for cooking rice, per Rachael Ray Magazine, so it’s not terribly surprising that some Instagram users would respond to the Reel with comments like "duh” and "boring boring boring … Same information. What’s new?” In her own magazine, Ray suggests that rice should rest for 10 to 15 minutes so the grains have a chance to plump up. Then, remove the lid and use a fork to fluff the rice.
Ultimately, her love for rice is perhaps just one of the things you didn’t know about Ray.
Rachael Ray has no shortage of kitchen tricks
You don’t achieve superstar status as the queen of "30 Minute Meals” without having a whole bunch of time-saving tips and tricks — kitchen hacks, if you will — up your sleeve. Rachael Ray has oodles of them. This should come as no surprise. Her "Rachael Ray Show” has carved out time for "tip-offs,” during which Ray devotes entire episodes to sharing her favorite cooking 101 kitchen skills.
Making a Mexican-style meal or appetizer spread for family or friends? You’re probably going to want some guacamole. To make the job easier and quicker, Ray places a baker’s cooling rack over a big bowl, slides halved ripe avocados across the grates, and squishes them through using the palm of her hand. "This is probably the greatest tip I’ve ever seen in my life,” a characteristically enthusiastic Ray says in her introduction. She’s quick to add a full disclosure: The life-changing tip comes from her friend Georgie.
Speaking of life-changing, what’s better than bacon sizzling in a frying pan on the stovetop? According to Ray, it’s bacon baked to perfection in the oven (per Rachael Ray Show’s Facebook page). Among the reasons to dig out your slotted broiler pan for makin’ bacon: even cooking without "hot spots,” no need to pull out tongs for flipping the slices, and no annoying spatters (the fat drips through the openings in the pan rack).
Gordon Ramsay’s approach to perfect rice
Let’s circle back to rice. Apparently, cooking rice is something many home cooks struggle with — or, maybe they just like to watch Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen. In a video on YouTube that has racked up more than five million views, the chef, restaurant owner, and television personality takes viewers through the paces of making perfect rice, including mistakes to avoid and ways to add fragrance and flavor.
First, Ramsay says, begin with basmati rice, "the king of all rice.” Rinse the rice under cold water to remove dust and starch from the grains. Taking this step will result in rice that doesn’t clump, Ramsay explains.
What’s the proper ratio of rice to water? One part rice to two parts water is commonly suggested (per Food Network). Ramsay’s formula is one part rice to one and a half parts cold water. The chef favors adding flavor to rice before cooking, in the form of cardamom pods (pinched to break them open), star anise, black pepper, and salt.
Ramsay’s procedure is a departure from Rachael Ray’s, but the celebrity chefs can agree on one thing: Don’t lift the lid during cooking! Ramsay likes to bring his rice to a quick boil, then reduces the heat so that the rice can steam for 10 to 12 minutes. His rice gets no rest time after cooking. Instead, Ramsay immediately lifts the lid, removes the spices, and runs a fork through the basmati. Voila — perfect rice.