Since rice takes as long to microwave as it does to cook the old-fashioned way on a stove top, you may wonder, "Why bother?"
Three good reasons: The rice needn't be started in boiling water; it won't stick to the pan or scorch, and it will steam to perfection in a microwave.
Still, if you're to produce the fluffiest, most tender rice imaginable--every time--you must learn a few tricks.
The main problem with microwaving rice is that it's apt to boil over. But that's easily prevented. Simply use a casserole three times the volume of the rice and liquid put into it.
Use Hot Tap Water
Is there any way to hurry the microwaving of rice? Absolutely. Start it in the hottest tap water available.
What about keeping rice fluffy-moist? There's little danger of it drying in a microwave. Still, to minimize the evaporation of moisture, cook the rice tightly covered.
If rice is to cook evenly, don't add salt until after the rice is done unless you dissolve it completely in the cooking liquid before adding the rice.
To avoid breaking the individual grains of rice, stir the rice only once or twice as it microwaves.
So the rice will absorb all of the casserole liquid, let it stand, covered tightly, as individual recipes direct.
If dinner must wait, you'll be pleased to know that you can successfully hold microwaved rice 10 to 15 minutes. Just keep it tightly covered.
Here's a basic guide for steaming rice by microwave:
Basic Steamed Rice:
(Use converted or long-grain rice)
1/2 cup raw rice, 1 cup water, 2 to 3 minutes on HIGH, 6 to 7 minutes on MEDIUM.
3/4 cups raw rice, 1 1/2 cups water, 3 to 4 minutes on HIGH, 7 to 8 minutes on MEDIUM.
1 cup raw rice, 2 cups water, 4 to 6 minutes on HIGH, 9 to 10 minutes on MEDIUM.
1 1/2 cups raw rice, 2 3/4 cups water, 6 to 8 minutes on HIGH, 12 to 13 minutes on MEDIUM.
2 cups raw rice, 3 2/3 cups water, 8 to 10 minutes on HIGH, 14 to 16 minutes on MEDIUM.
Mix rice and water (or, if preferred, beef or chicken broth) in casserole three times volume of combined ingredients, cover with tight lid and microwave on HIGH (100% power) as chart directs until small bubbles appear around edge.
Stir once, cover and microwave on MEDIUM (50% power) without stirring until rice is al dente. (Rice will seem dry on surface but some liquid will remain in bottom of casserole, this will be absorbed as rice stands.) Let rice stand, tightly covered, 5 minutes. Add salt to taste and fluff lightly with fork.
Note: Rice will approximately triple in volume as it microwaves, thus 1/2 cup raw rice will yield 1 1/2 cups cooked rice or 3 servings.
To Reheat Room Temperature Rice:
Cover with lid or vented plastic wrap and microwave on HIGH (100% power), allowing 1 minute per cup of cooked rice. Stir and serve.
To Reheat Refrigerated Rice:
Microwave as directed for room-temperature rice, increasing time to 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 minutes per cup of cooked rice.
1 medium onion, minced
1 medium green pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 cup converted or long-grain rice
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup hot water, chicken or beef broth
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Combine onion, green pepper and oil in 3-quart casserole. Cover with wax paper and microwave on HIGH (100% power) 4 minutes.
Add rice, tomatoes, water, chili powder, pepper and sugar. Cover tightly and microwave on HIGH 7 to 8 minutes until boiling. Stir, cover, and microwave on MEDIUM (50% power) 14 to 15 minutes until almost all liquid is absorbed.
Let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt, fluff with fork and serve. Makes 6 servings.
Note: In ovens of less than 600 watts, increase cooking times by about 15%.