Cooking Perfect Rice

I am often asked how I make my so fluffy with each grain distinct and not mushy and full of flavour. Well here I am going to share my secrets.

Sea salt
450 g basmati rice

Serves 4

Cooking pasta, potatoes or spaghetti does not seem to present any problems compared to cooking rice which often results in sloppy clumps. There are a number of ways to cook perfect rice but for me this is the most reliable.

The first decision to be made is the choice of rice. I find that basmati is best and expands dramatically in length and becomes fluffy. It may be a little more expensive than others but it is worth it because it has a subtly nutty fragrance and flavour.
Next the question is to wash or not to wash? The main reason for washing rice was because it contained a lot of dust but if you buy a good quality basmati that will not be the case because it is thoroughly cleaned at the milling stage so the decision is based on other factors. On the negative side washing rice removes some nutrients but on the plus side it removes loose starch, making the rice less sticky and since we want fluffy rice I wash the rice in water for a minute or so until the water runs clear.

Soaking – If you have the time soaking the rice in water for an hour can help to soften the grains and thus help prevent sticking. Great if you have the time and inclination but in my opinion not necessary.

Find a large pan and fill with salted water and bring to the boil. Add the rice and bring to the boil again and then when the grains of rice start to dance around in the pan cover the pan with a lid and turn the heat down to low. Don’t take off the lid and continue to simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Drain the rice in a colander then retain just an inch of water in the pan and place it back on the heat and bring back to the boil and simmer. Place some foil or a lid on the rice in the colander and place on top of the pan of simmering water. Now leave the rice for about 10 minutes and do not tempted to remove the foil or lid. Turn off the heat and remove the foil or lid and fluff the rice with a a fork, and let it stand for a few moments before serving.

Now when you have mastered that you can start to experiment a little with some favouring. You can infuse the rice with any flavour you like in the boiling water. I particularly like coconut flavoured rice so I add a can of coconut milk to the water but you can also try herbs, cinnamon, cardamom pods or zest from citrus (lemon, lime, orange, etc).

Serving – Presentation is important try topping with some chopped fresh herbs, sour cream or some cracked black pepper.

Mark Danby

Marks Gourmet Kitchen



Frozen Meals – Can be high quality

It is now possible to get quality frozen meals delivered to your door with good quality ingredients, made with expert skill, and plated using a fancy or stylish presentation.

Frozen food can be even more nutritious than supposedly fresh produce in a supermarket, a new study has found.
Most of the fruit and veg found in the freezer, things like peas, are frozen very soon after harvest, so preserving the levels of vitamins and minerals.
However, the long delays in getting fresh food from the field to the store often leads to a reduction in the level of beneficial compounds.
In some cases fruit and vegetables sold as fresh will have been held in warehouses for months on end.

Prepared meal delivery services are getting more popular each day, catering to individuals who do not have the time or
aspiration to make all their meals from home. Several meal-delivery Web sites want to lift eating-in to a higher level by delivering high-quality prepared dishes to your doorstep. Whether ordered to celebrate a holiday or as a gift, the food is billed as being as good as what’s served in a fine restaurant.

This is made possible with blast freezing the meals which is a rapid form of freezing which minimises the damage and preserves food at a high quality. During the process of freezing, all the water molecules turn into crystals, the faster the freezing the smaller the crystals and after defrosting, there will be no loss of liquid, firmness or flavour. The freezers are high capacity rapid air freezers with an air temperature of -35°C which quickly blast freeze the meals down to -18°C and guarantees a high quality, better tasting product.

Blast freezers come in a variety of configurations, from single-load freezers that freeze batches of products, to “continuous” freezers such as tunnel freezers that continuously freeze product as it moves through the freezer on a conveyer belt.

The New Zealand Cold Storage industry identified blast freezing as the most energy intensive operation in the frozen food storage industry, consuming 8.1 GWh of electricity in New Zealand in 2005

The primary goal in blast freezing is fast freeze times. Fast freeze times are important for a number of reasons – the most obvious being production efficiency – getting the most production out of the least amount of production space is important in every industry. However, the most compelling motivation is the economics of quality. High quality food products can be pushed into high price markets, but low quality products are left to the low price markets – plain and simple. Blast freezing is an effort on the part of frozen food producers to preserve as much of the quality as was present in the raw product as possible in order to position their products before the type of customers that are willing to pay the most for the very best quality.

Companies like Mark’s Gourmet Kitchen are providing quality frozen meals delivered to your door. The meals are cooked by hand he same way you would at home. They aim to produce good honest food that can be healthy and nutritious and always fabulously tasty.