First, let’s start by telling you what concón is, and then I’ll let you in the secrets to the perfect concón. Concón is the crust of rice formed at the bottom of the pot when you cook rice Dominican-style, but if you are not Dominican, and have never lived in the Dominican Republic, you will probably not understand the passion that Dominicans feel for concón. My suggestion is that you try it, you could be surprised.
What makes a concón perfect?
It is perfectly crunchy.
It is a thin film.
It is not burnt.
How do you achieve the perfect concón?
Start with the pot:
Use the correct cooking pot. Preferably cast iron or cast aluminum, however, cast aluminum is the standard in the Dominican Republic. You also need the perfect-sized pot; a pot that is too small will tend to burn the rice at the bottom. For a perfect concón the rice, once cooked, should not occupy more than 3/4 of the pot (better yet if it is only half).
To start, you need to quick-cure your pot, if your pot is not already seasoned. To do this add vegetable oil (one that is good for frying) and cover the bottom of the pot with it. Add salt. Heat oil until it is hot enough for frying, then add water at room temperature (careful with splatters!). That will seal the pores in the pot, creating a Teflon-like film.
Follow with the right proportions:
To get a good concón you need to make good rice. It should be firm but chewable. To achieve this you will need to get the right proportion between rice and water. Too much water will ruin your rice, too little and the concón will burn. In our rice recipes, we give you the proportions we use, however over time you may need to adjust the proportions to the type of rice you use, the stove you use and the pot you have. The perfect rice can rarely be achieved at the first try.
Keep an eye on your rice:
You will need to stir the rice very often to prevent the rice at the bottom from overcooking and eventually burning. Every time you stir it make sure to remove the film that is forming at the bottom, concón has to be produced in the last stage of cooking, if you leave a film of rice to stick to the bottom too early it will be too thick and will burn.
The final stage:
When the water has evaporated, and it is time to cover the rice, do so promptly. Pour two tablespoons of oil (optional) and stir again removing the film at the bottom. Cover with a tight-fitting lid.
After 10 to 15 minutes (depending on how much rice you are cooking) repeat the process above, but leave a thin coat of rice at the bottom. Once the rice is ready (firm and chewable) put the rice in the serving bowl immediately. If you leave the rice too long the concón will get soggy. After you serve the rice wait a couple of minutes for the concón to cool down a bit and settle. Scrape off the bottom with a spoon (a wooden spoon if you do not want to scratch your seasoned cast iron pots) and serve alongside your rice. Don’t be mortified by the noise, it’s a big chorus in the Dominican Republic at lunch time.
Just a final note: Concón is ours, but it’s not a unique concept in the least. It’s nurungji in Korea, tahdig in Iran, hkaka in Iraq raspa in Cuba, cocolón in Ecuador, socarrat in Spain, pega’o in Puerto Rico, guo ba in China, cucayo in Columbia, kanzo or emo asi in Ghana, tutong in Philippine, xoon in Senegal, pegado in Colombia, koge in Japan, etc.