I like to think I’m a pretty good cook. But it wasn’t always so… At the debut of my marital career I was only 23 and my recipe repertoire consisted of little more than grilled cheese sandwiches, toasted marshmallows, and the quintessential Kraft Dinner.
To complicate things further, I was in Sosúa. Foreign food names and oddly shaped pots and pans, teetering dangerously on uneven stovetops, were hindrances to say the least. But the idea of one all-important comida every day — day after day, 7 days a week — was absolutely daunting. And the staple of this daily meal? My new nemesis — El Arroz.
Never having been a big rice-eater before, and much less a big rice-cooker, I observed the process many, many times before making my first foray into this uncharted territory. I bowed before my comadres, who never failed to please. Their rice was always firm, and yet at the same time enticingly tender. The grains were never bland or pasty, and they unfailingly produced the popular film of concón: the truest symbol of a successful arroz.
My own efforts were completely and sadly inconsistent. Sometimes soupy, sometimes crunchy – my making rice was a veritable caja de sorpresas for everyone involved. An epic battle was thus waged on my part to master my rice-to-water ratio, and to perfect the placement of my funda plástica on my olla.
After various episodes of giving up (and one very poorly received supper of Rice-A-Roni, sponsored by the makers of What Was I Thinking?®), a magical occurrence took place. With my giant metal spoon in hand, I peeled the plastic bag from the pot. Wondrously, I didn’t scald my face with the rush of steam. A good omen. There it was in all its glory. Birds chirped happily in the background and the Gods of Cereals smiled down. My rice glistened, was perfectly chewable, and tasted good.
“Ya te puedes casar*”, said my long-suffering husband. Um, gee, thanks. Thanks a lot. I just may do that.
*”You can get married”
Jill, a member of our original team (where we knew her as Aunt Jane), and contributor to our book, is Canadian, mom to two Canadian-Dominican boys and resided in the Dominican Republic for several years.
Arroz Blanco is the base of most Dominican lunch menus, one of the components of La Bandera Dominicana, and the ultimate test of the good Dominican cook.
The perfectionists will strive for a tender "arroz graneado" (loose) and a thin and crispy "concón".
- 4 cups of rice
- 6 cups water
- 5 tablespoons of oil
- 1/2 tablespoon of salt
- Heat up half the oil and all the salt in a 1.5 qrt (aprox) cast iron or aluminum pot.
- Add the water, being careful with splatters.
- Rinse the rice in running water, drain well (optional, I don't do it).
- Bring to a boil and then add the rice, stirring regularly to avoid excessive sticking.
- When all the water has evaporated cover with a tight fitting lid and simmer over very low heat.
- Wait 15 minutes and remove lid, add the remaining oil, stir and cover again.
- In 5 minutes uncover and taste, the rice should be firm but tender inside.
- If necessary, cover and simmer for another 5 minutes over very low heat.
- Serve with meat, (or seafood) a side dish and beans.