This Arroz Blanco recipe (White Rice) is the base of Dominican lunch menus, one of the components of La Bandera Dominicana. The perfect Arroz Blanco is proof of expertise for any Dominican cook.
Arroz Blanco (White Rice) is the staple of La Bandera Dominicana, the traditional Dominican lunch meal. Anyone willing to get into this world of Dominican cooking needs to learn how to make perfect white rice.
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.
Dominican arroz blanco
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 Dominican 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 white 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 paila.
The perfect arroz blanco
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 white rice glistened, was perfectly cooked, firm, and tasted good.
"Ya te puedes casar", said my long-suffering husband. Um, gee, thanks. Thanks a lot. I just may do that.
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.
Aunt Clara's tricks
Generally speaking, 1.5 cups of water for every cup of rice is my preferred ratio of rice to water. I would sometimes use less water if I want very firm rice (like to make chofán), or if there is any other ingredient in the rice recipe (like for locrio or moro), because the vegetables will contribute some water to it.
Generally speaking, I would cook 1 cup of raw rice for every two people. The rice will double in volume, so each person will get one cup of cooked rice. This is strictly for white rice, other dishes may require a different amount of rice per person.
I do not wash the rice. Unless the rice is of very low quality (you can see debris, for example), I suggest you don't either. Rice is already quite low on nutrients, washing gets rid of nutrients.
The pot has to be at least twice as large as the amount of rice and water combined for the best results. A pot that is too small will result in unevenly cooked rice. Better too large a pot than too small.
Typically, we Dominicans use neutral-flavored vegetable oil, but I have tried it with coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, and even butter. Each will impart a different but still enjoyable taste. Do your own thing.
No, I don't use a plastic bag (Dominicans would know what I am talking about), that and anafes went the way of the dodo. A pot with a tight-fitting lid is enough, and you don't want unknown chemicals leaching into your food.
Arroz Blanco Recipe (Dominican White Rice)
- 5 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 1 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 6 cups water
- 4 cups of rice (long grain, Carolina)
- Heat up half the oil over medium heat and all the salt in a 1.5 qrt (approx) cast iron or aluminum pot (Amazon affiliate link).
- 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.