Rice To Meet You
February 2, 2009 6:46 AM   Subscribe

How do I make white rice for one person (me)?

There are seemingly no recipes on the Internet for microwaving white rice in individual portions. Any experimentation on my end has resulted in failure. I either end up with rice soup or a solid disc of dry rice.

Bonus points for using olive oil instead of butter.

If you have any single-portion brown rice recipes, feel free to supply those too. Once I work through my white rice cache I'm going to switch to brown.
posted by spamguy to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Buy a rice cooker.
posted by downing street memo at 6:56 AM on February 2, 2009

I don't microwave rice, but I see no reason why the following wouldn't work.

1 small cup of rice.
2 small cups of water.
1 tiny pinch of salt.

Dissolve salt in water in a bowl. Carefully add Rice to water. (DO NOT STIR OR WASH THE RICE. If you must wash the rice, wash it carefully until there's no starch in the drained water).

Cook in a covered bowl for 10 minutes on a maximum heat.
Do not add oil.
posted by seanyboy at 6:57 AM on February 2, 2009

Are you trying to cook the rice in the microwave, or is it already cooked and you simply reheat it in the microwave? I can only give advice on the latter, so I have no idea if any of this will be helpful.

It's really easy to cook white or brown rice on the stovetop - I use a method similar to this. A rice cooker is easier still, but it's your call whether that's a necessary purchase. Rice keeps pretty well, so you can make much more than you need, keep the leftovers in the fridge or freezer, and microwave a serving on a plate when you need it - about 2 minutes for one portion, 3 minutes for two. If your leftover rice is dry you can add a dribble of water before microwaving, enough so that the rice still covers the water and you can't see any puddles on the plate. If you add too much you can always drain the rest off or let it sit for a few minutes and absorb. It does require a little bit of trial and error, though rice is pretty resilient.

Brown rice cooks pretty much the same as white rice, but it does need a little bit more water. Bulgur can be cooked the same way, so you might want to try a mix of bulgur and brown rice - it's a little bit sweeter and nuttier, and has more fiber.

I generally don't use oil when cooking plain rice, so I can't help there, but when I make fried rice (no recipe, sorry; I always wing it) I use olive oil.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:15 AM on February 2, 2009

It isn't that hard to cook rice in a pot on the stove, but a rice cooker makes it so easy, and rice cookers are so cheap, that there isn't much of a reason not to use one. As long as you get the rice:water proportion correct, there's not really anything that can go wrong.
posted by Forktine at 7:18 AM on February 2, 2009

My supermarket just started selling something called GoGo Rice. It comes as a single serving microwaveable bowl; heats up on 90 seconds. I only have the organic brown rice, not white, but it's actually quite good, much much better than I'd expect from the microwave.
posted by sharkfu at 7:21 AM on February 2, 2009

I cook mine (mixing brown and white rice) on the stove -

put in a small saucepan:
- 1/4 cup white rice
- 1/4 cup brown rice
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 cup of boiling water (I add a little more to be on the safe side)

cook on low flame with lid shut for 20 minutes

let rest with lid shut for another 5 minutes
posted by mirileh at 7:27 AM on February 2, 2009

Best answer: I feel your pain. Some rice always sticks together at the bottom of the pot and if you're cooking a bunch of rice, it's a small proportion, but if you're cooking a little it's pretty much all of it and there's nothing left for you. Unless you put in twice as much as you actually need. Then you're throwing away half your rice (especially if like me you don't like to eat the rice that's glued together into a solid mass from the bottom of the pot -- some people love that, I hate it) and you feel stupid.

Well just a few days ago, I discovered the secret, while cooking a single portion for my dog who wasn't feeling well. My friend from India told me that in India they just put in loads of water, let it cook until it's done, and then drain off the water (i.e. don't wait for it to absorb, just take the rice out of the water). I tried this. I took the rice out of the water using a slotted spoon and put it in a bowl. Since the rice is still hot, the remaining wetness evaporates pretty much instantly. I tasted it. It was good. This is how I'm doing my own rice from now on.

The only thing left to do is google some rice cooking times so I can set a timer rather than having to repeatedly test the rice to see if it's done. This was all in a proper rice cooker, but I imagine a pot on the stove could do the same.

Before I discovered this method, I just cooked multiple portions and put the leftovers in the fridge to either eat tomorrow or throw out next week.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:29 AM on February 2, 2009

Best answer: I do microwave rice, and go for:

Boil a kettle.
Get 75 grams rice.
Put it in a bowl or plastic container. Weigh the rice-plus-bowl.
Rinse the rice well in a sieve. It will now weigh slightly more than 75 grams, because it's wet. So put it back in the bowl (remember you know how much rice-plus-bowl weighs), and add enough hot water from the kettle that the total weight of the water - kettle water plus the water adhering to the rice - is 150 grams.
Cover the bowl.
Microwave on high for six minutes, and then an extra minute or two if it's not done yet (this will depend on the bowl).

If you want you can put a bit of saffron or stock in the water, just like if you were cooking it on a stovetop.

This is easy and pretty reliable, and rice cookers - even if cheap - take up space, so I don't think the "get a rice cooker" argument is a compelling one.
posted by severalbees at 7:30 AM on February 2, 2009 [2 favorites]

I'll agree with everyone above... good rice can't be made in a microwave unless it's food that's been processed to hell or has some weird preservative in it (wtf are Glucono Delta Lactone, Modified Tapioca Starch and sugar--ingredients in Gogo Rice--doing in rice?).

Buy one of these. Your rice (and vegetable) problems will be over.

rice cookers - even if cheap - take up space

My mind, it boggles. It's the size of a toaster. Put it away when not using it or leave it on the counter. If you're that worried about space, throw out the nuker. It's bigger and isn't useful for many foods that aren't crap.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 7:36 AM on February 2, 2009

1 part rice, 2 parts liquid. Chicken stock is a good liquid. Or water with a bit of butter. Alternatively, toss in herbs, for example, a couple sprigs of rosemary, or a couple cloves of garlic, or even a couple stalks of lemon grass (smells fantastic, does little to the flavor though).

Cook for twenty minutes, on high until it starts to bubble over, or five minutes, whichever is first, turn down to as low as you can get it for the remainder of the 20 minutes. Leave the lid on for the whole cooking time. After it's done, open lid, stir, close lid for five minutes.

Left over rice is actually your friend. There's really no other way to make fried rice; you need left over, cold rice.

Just for fun, in a wok, lots of oil, minced garlic and ginger, add minced onions/chopped carrots/peas, then add rice, stir fry until goldenish, then add soy sauce, then leftover meat (pork/chicken work best). To finish, push rice mix to side of pan, add egg to the pan, and scramble away from the rice until mostly cooked, then mix in with rice. The bonus of fried rice is that it microwaves nicely, and equals a pretty decent meal on its own.

As for the bonus points, there's always making pilaf, which is sauteing onions in olive oil, then adding dry rice til translucent/golden, then adding stock and spices. Reheats well.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:38 AM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: IIOHAPenguin has it right: I don't cook it in a pot because I am inevitably left with rice goo stuck at the bottom. And that's if the cooking goes right. If I do it wrong...

A rice cooker may be worth pursuing if I can find one mega-cheap. I still make rice manually because that's how my parents did it. Petty traditions!
posted by spamguy at 8:09 AM on February 2, 2009

I could not have said it better than Ghidorah. Done that way none of it should stick at the bottom. Use the two to one ration and a good pan with a thick bottom and keep the heat low. Store your leftover rice in an airtight container. If you reheat it in the microwave be careful. It can catch fire if one spot gets too hot. Stir frequently.
posted by caddis at 8:26 AM on February 2, 2009

I own this rice cooker. It doesn't have any fancy features, but it cooks rice, and I'd argue that $16.99 qualifies as "mega-cheap."
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:28 AM on February 2, 2009

Have the people who are suggesting standard rice-cooking recipes actually done these with a single portion? When I cook a portion for myself it's 3-4 TBS of rice (measured uncooked). Are you really putting in 3 TBS of rice and 6 TBS of water and boiling the water then simmering for 20 minutes? My experience is that these standard proportions/times break down when you get down to low volumes.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:37 AM on February 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Cooked rice actually freezes pretty well, especially if it's to the stickier or wetter side. Given that I find making rice a bit of a pain I make double or triple what I need and freeze the extra in ziplock bags to be used over the next few weeks.
posted by 6550 at 9:12 AM on February 2, 2009

Seriously, properly cooking rice doesn't leave rice stuck at the bottom of the pan (unless you are using ghee and trying to get tah-dig. Rinse your rice better, maybe? It takes more rinsing than you'd think.

Try rinsing your rice well and baking it with just under twice the water in a covered pan in the oven for 30 mins. I learned that trick here on AskMe and that's how I do rice now. I don't see why it wouldn't work for a small amount, as long as your pan is small, too.

But nthing the suggestion to just make enough for two or four portions and refrigerating leftovers. That's the easiest.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:23 AM on February 2, 2009

Leftovers FTW. Get a few mason jars and you're set.
posted by saxamo at 9:41 AM on February 2, 2009

Something similar to this has already been mentioned, but I just wanted to state how truly great I think the Bird's Eye Steamfresh rice series is. It costs about a dollar for two very reasonable sized portions. You pop it into the microwave in the bag and all and it's perfectly cooked in 3 minutes. Unlike other kinds of frozen or pre-prepared rice, this isn't mushy, gluey, or overcooked. Honestly, I don't think I've found another product that has made life so much easier for me in a long while. (And no...I don't work for them!) Is it hard to cook rice the traditional way? Nope. But after a long day, popping this in the microwave and getting exactly the amount I need seems way, way easier than boiling water, measuring rice, and having a pan to clean.
posted by theantikitty at 9:59 AM on February 2, 2009

While I think penguin and Ghidorah's techniques are useful skills to learn (thanks!), I truly, honestly don't understand why you don't just make multiple portions - even just a cup and a half prevents the burned-rice issue - and keep some in the fridge for two days later when you're too tired to cook. Rice isn't one of those foods that tastes gross when it gets reheated, and also - fried rice!
posted by bettafish at 10:40 AM on February 2, 2009

I always cook rice in the microwave, but I cook for two people. I use the following method. 1 cup rice, 2 cups water, put in closed bowl, cook for 15 mins on high. You might have to play with different times to adjust for type of rice, but thats about it.
posted by dhruva at 11:09 AM on February 2, 2009

'One-person' rice cookers are big here in Japan in recent years ... lots of people living by themselves. And making just a single cup of rice in a normal family-size unit just doesn't cut it.

Here's an example of one (Japanese shopping page)
posted by woodblock100 at 12:12 AM on February 3, 2009

And here's another one - this one designed for using in the microwave ...
posted by woodblock100 at 12:22 AM on February 3, 2009

Yeah, no 2 cups water 1 cup rice when you get down to single serving sizes. Alton Brown wisdom, find a teacup or something, 1 cup rice, 1 1/2 cups water. Use the same pot every time and practice. I used teacup of rice and 1 1/2 plus a tad more (maybe 1 3/4) water. Throw in pot and turn on high until it boils then turn down as low as the gas stove flame will go, set timer to 20 minutes. Wait for ding, turn off flame and quickly fluff it up a bit with a wooden spoon and put the lid back on for 5 min or so. Pick a rice you like and try to keep to the same kind for a while (I like short grain and don't wash it, I like it sticky). Then it's just practice. Now since I found out I like rice a bunch... rice cooker all the way... They generally work on weight and temperature, once water is gone weight stabilizes and temperature rises and they cut back on the heat a lot to the just keep warm.

I have one of the slightly more expensive ones Zojirushi-NS-KCC05-Programmable-Cooker-Warmer, but it has a timer (so throw in rice/water the night before and it's ready for breakfast and packing a lunch and some left over for dinner) and I've left rice warming in it for 17 hours and it was still pretty decent (better in a soup or curry, just a little dry).

So until you get the hang of it, same pot, use less water, get up to heat, turn it down and timer.. a few tries and it's like making toast. You really want to eat a lot of rice, rice cooker.
posted by zengargoyle at 10:50 AM on February 3, 2009

I've never tried cooking the rice in the microwave, but if you eat a lot of rice, it's a good idea to invest in a rice-cooker.

You can cook a 3-4 servings of rice in just a small rice cooker. Then when it's cooked, divide them into single servings, plastic wrap them into tight little bundles each, and then freeze them. Next time you want rice, just chuck the frozen rice plastic wrap and all into the microwave for a few seconds. It steams in the wrapping.
posted by nakedsushi at 10:19 AM on February 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

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