Thanks, Williams-Sonoma, you really done me in!
I haven't cooked rice on the stove top for ... 20 years! Yup, my Panasonic electric rice cooker cooks my rice for me. Even when I make nasi briyani, it's in the rice cooker. My friend, the rice cooker. As absent-minded as I am, the rice cooker is an absolute, absolute necessity. Why? Well, back when I had no rice cooker, it was quite a common that my neighbors would hear a high-pitched screech around-about lunchtime. Why? Well, I'd put the rice on the stove and then I'd get bored. Who wants to watch a pot of rice cook? So, I'd multi task. I'd start on the laundry or get on the computer or plant myself in front of the TV (this was most often the case) and forget all about the rice that's on slow boil in the kitchen.
Until I smelt the burning. Acck. Have you ever smelt burning rice ? It's god-awful. By the time the smell wafted through the house to reach me, the rice would be long gone. Almost charcoal. Unsalvageable. I'd have to throw it out with clothes peg on my nose (ok I am exaggerating but it smells awful). Naturally, I'd have to cook a second batch and this time, to avoid a repeat performance, I literally would have to watch my rice cook. Lifting the lid ten times too often, mentally hurrying the grains up.
So anyway, that's why I love my rice cooker. You wash the rice, chuck it in the cooker, add water and switch it on. You can then proceed to do any number of things and it won't burn on you.
And then I got this book to review: the Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Asian Cooking cookbook (the review will be published tomorrow and I will dutifully add the link then) and I could not resist trying the "Lemon grass and Coconut Jasmine Rice", evidently a Thailand staple . (The cookbook features recipes from 15 Asian countries: the essentials of each country's cuisine.) The only problem? The rice had to be cooked on the stove. Grrrrrrrrrrrr.
The picture of the rice looked so wonderful that I had to try it, even if it meant digging out my weathered rice pot from the deepest recess of my cupboard. Urrrgh.
The recipe was pretty simple. The key is to use a non-stick pan (you don't want to scrub till the cows come home) AND to toast the rice in oil or some sort of fat (butter/ghee) before adding in the water so that the rice doesn't stick to the pot and together.
For this recipe, you will need ...
1 cup of rice, washed clean
1 shallot, chopped
1/2 tbsp pureed fresh ginger
3 tbsp veg oil or butter
1 cup water
1 cup coconut milk
3 stalks of lemon grass, only the tender middle section, smashed
pinch of salt
Heat the oil in the pan. Add the onions and cook till translucent. Add the rice (washed and drained) and cook, stirring, till the rice is nicely coated with oil and onions -- about 3 mins. Add the water, coconut milk and salt and stir. Once it comes to a boil, add the smashed lemon grass and cover the pot. Turn the heat down to low and let the rice cook, undisturbed for 10-15 mins. You can peep in after 10 mins to see how it's progressing and taste it: you may have to add a little more water. Once it's done, turn off the heat and gently fluff up the rice and then put the lid back on, letting it steam in the pot fo about 10 mins. You're good to go.
OK, that wasn't as painful as I though it'd be. 15 minutes isn't that long a time to hang around waiting for rice to cook. I did the dishes and watched a pair of lizards dance around my ceiling. Fascinating! The result? The rice turned out great. Don't underestimate the humble lemon grass: it infused an almost citrusy flavour to the rice. Awesome.
So, if it turned out great why am I (not) thanking Williams-Sonoma. WELL, the rice was such a hit with the mister (as opposed to missus -- geddit) that I may just have to say bye-bye to Mr Panasonic and cook rice ol' skool style. I either have to establish a friendship with them lizards (urrgh) or warn my neighbours not to call the cops if they hear me screaming just around noon.