Rice is not one thing, but many. It comes in a rainbow of colors, varieties and sizes, and varies considerably from country to country, region to region, and well, house to house. But in the everyday kitchen we mostly keep the company of white and brown. Short-grain rice of any color will be creamy and starchy, perfect for absorbing a sauce, and long-grain will be toothsome and tender in comparison, a fluffier disposition.
You’ve read that brown rice is a more nutritious option, and this is because it is considerably less processed than white, and is considered a whole grain, which means it has retained its bran and fiber, and valuable B vitamins, which is a real gift for those who eat mostly plant-based diets. But because brown rice is a rather intact food it takes longer to break down, and therefore twice as long to cook than white rice.
If you don’t have a rice-cooker here is a really simple recipe for boiled, stovetop rice. It serves any amount, but keep in mind that 1 cup dried rice is 3-4 servings. Consider doubling your amount, since rice freezes so well (look below for instructions).
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil on the stovetop. Rinse your amount of rice thoroughly with fresh, cool water. Add your rice to your boiling pot, like you would for pasta, stirring gently from time to time. For white rice, check after 10, minutes; you are looking for the grains to still have just a bit of bite, a bit of chalkiness. If they are still quite tough, check in another minute or two. For brown rice, check after 25-30 minutes; again, you are looking for the grains to still have just a bit of bite. If your brown rice is still quite tough, check again in another 5 minutes.
Once your rice is al dente, as described above, drain and add your rice back into your dry pot. At this point, you can choose to add a tablespoon or two of butter or oil to offer character. Fork gently, cover tightly, and finish cooking (it’s steaming, really) over the very lowest heat your stovetop has. For white rice, check after 10 minutes to see if it is tender and fluffy, and if not, check again in another couple minutes and for brown rice, check after 15-20 minutes. Fluff with a fork!
To freeze rice: Spoon a serving into a wide square of plastic wrap, and wrap up into a parcel. Do the same for any other remaining servings. Put them into a Ziplock-style bag, label, and freeze. They will keep for a couple months. Thaw your rice parcels in the fridge for a day or two before using.
ARSENIC IN RICE: Rice has been the subject of some recent, distressing research. Increasing levels of the chemical, arsenic, have been found in rice around the world. Arsenic seeps in from the ground and into the water in which rice is grown, and can have adverse health effects. Its contamination is a result of wide-spread coal-burning, mining, and arsenic-containing pesticides that make their way into our waters. Data collection is still young on this matter, but in the meantime, you should rinse your raw rice thoroughly under the tap, and enjoy it conservatively in your diet.