Rice is one of those necessities that we all have our own methods to cook, and although we eat it on such a regular basis, the majority of us actually find it quite bland. A staple ingredient used across the world, in almost every cuisine, and tastes good with almost every flavour, so why is it so hard to make it taste good at home? What if I told you there was a simple, quick method to bring out the flavours in your rice and to change it from an entrée to the real deal? Push your everyday rice-cooking process aside and let me tell you how, with just a few simple steps, your regular method can be turned up a notch or two.

How do you sauté rice before cooking?

Seasoning the rice once it’s cooked and ready to serve up can help add some flavour, but the key is to get the flavours bursting before the rice even hits the water. The key is frying the rice before cooking. This stems from a traditional style of cooking rice- Pilaf. I know that sounds crazy, but trust me, if you follow these next few steps, you won’t ever look back. So, of course, keep some of the original method – starting with rinsing your rice.

Then, keep the water to rice ratio that works for you, although this may need to be slightly altered and readjusted depending on how sticky you like things to be. Pop your water on to boil and in the meantime heat up some cooking oil or butter in a frying pan – I will later go on to discuss the best oils depending on the purpose of your rice, as this can really help to impact the flavour. You will only need a little amount – just enough to gently cover the grains. As you toss the rice through the oil, it will begin to lightly roast, releasing a nutty aroma. Once you begin to notice this fragrant smell and the rice has started to slightly brown in colour, take it off the heat as you don’t want to burn it. Now you are ready to take the toasted rice and continue to cook it exactly how you normally would.

Although it may seem like adding some seasoning in at the toasting point may be a tactful extra step, it doesn’t actually make much of a difference and you would be better to hold off on adding any spices or herbs until the end, although you can add some chopped garlic or chilli to the oil and these stronger flavours will be reflected through the rice. However, if you are looking for a further boost to that flavour, you can try boiling your rice in stock as opposed to salted (or plain) water, and this means that as the rice expands it will absorb the flavours of the stock.

Of course, once your rice is nice and fluffy and ready to go, it is an excellent idea to then season it with any lemon or lime, pepper, spices, coriander, parsley – really whatever tickles your fancy!

How can I toast my rice to suit my meal?

Toasting Rice _Alices Kitchen

Remember, whatever you choose to sauté your rice in is going to add flavour to your final product. Because of this, the oil or fat you choose to toast the grains in is very important. I would recommend leaving aside any of your everyday vegetable oils and go for something with a little more of a kick. If you are cooking Eastern Asian food, you could opt for a nut or sesame oil. Quite often this cuisine is peanut-focussed or uses a lot of sesame seeds, and so using these flavours all the way through to the rice can really ‘wow’ your guests. Similarly, if you are cooking Mediterranean then you may want to go for a rich olive oil, as we quite often see fresh olive oil being incorporated through salads and pasta and served with breads. Alternatively, if you are going to be serving the rice with something more creamy, like a curry or something with similar aroma, then you may want to use butter or a coconut oil as this will bring out the rich, buttery flavours and textures.

A lot like your choice of fat for frying, if you do opt for the stock option when actually boiling the rice, your stock can also make a difference. Make sure if you are cooking vegetarian meals, that you also stick to a vegetable-based stock. However, quite often your tomato-based sauces may call for a red wine, or dishes such as a stroganoff, and so you boil the rice in a red wine stock. If you are cooking seafood to serve with the rice, then you should cook with a shellfish-based stock – something that is really easy to make yourself. Likewise, if the rice is being served with a chilli, then using a beef stock can really enhance the flavours. There are so many variations of stocks out there, so the idea is to look at the key flavours of what you will be serving the rice with and try to merge them into the rice itself by finding a stock of similar taste.

How does toasting rice before boiling help make the perfect rice?

Toasting the grains of rice before boiling them can be beneficial in a few ways. Heating up the rice beforehand helps to separate the individual grains, so that when they then go to the boil they don’t tend to stick as much. In addition, heating the grains means that they are already hot when they go to the boil, creating more consistency throughout the rice and helps the rice to cook quicker.

The main reason behind toasting your rice before ‘cooking’ it, is because this method helps to change the composition of the starch. It not only helps to caramelise the starch, but it reduces the starch levels on the surface of the grains, again helping them to cook more individually and evenly, resulting in them sticking together less.

Rice to the Challenge!

Toasting Rice _Alices Kitchen

So, if you are a lover of rice, then why not give this new method a go! Just a quick toast before the boil, and you could be opening up a whole new range of flavours to tickle your tastebuds with. Not only can it bring out some stronger, richer flavours, but it may push you to experiment more with different oils and stocks, making the rice-cooking process tastier AND more enjoyable!

Everyone views rice as the side-dish, the extra filler, but I think it’s about time we change our views and give rice the spotlight!

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Why do you fry rice before cooking?

Frying rice before cooking changed the starch levels, helping to create a more even cook. In addition, toasting the rice can help to bring out more flavour and a richer, nutty texture in your cooking, making it a lot more delicious.

Can you fry uncooked rice?

Yes! Frying uncooked rice can really help to enhance the flavours of your rice and can create more consistency throughout the rice when boiling it.

How do you sauté rice before cooking?

Heat some oil in a pan and add your uncooked rice grains. Toss this through until the grains are lightly coated. Once they start to turn more golden and you can smell a nutty aroma, your rice is ready for the boil.

Should I toast rice before cooking?

Absolutely! If you are looking for some stronger flavours throughout your meals, then toasting rice before boiling is the answer to this!