NOTES ON RICE: the Swank Way to cook rice is to use exactly the right amount of water and cook for exactly the right amount of time. I sometimes think this is a kind of Top-Chef Showing-Off, and really evolved bcz Top Chefs employ someone else to clean and deglue the mess from their pans and pots.* With rice which is going to end up dryish (I almost always use American long-grained anyway), don’t be afraid – at least when yr getting used to it – to use far more water than the recipe suggests, and taste and test it, then take it off, drain and rinse it when it’s the right softness. I expect this is very non-authentic – I know Asian steamed rice dishes are meant to be pulpy and sticky – but the point is, it is manageable and tasty and doesn’t require total constant attention better directed elsewhere. Besides, the exact authentic texture is a product of the correct equipment plus centuries of ultra-heirarchical social organisation!!

*I’ve known at least one REALLY GOOD cook – he was a fisherman from the Seychelles – who cooked the rice till it stuck solid EVERY SINGLE TIME: “Oh! Disaster!!” he would exclaim with his lovely grin, and we would scrape off the top, eatable layer, which was about right (unless it had actually started to burn below, which always taints the rest), and leave the semi-ruined pan till after we’d eaten, when we were in a good mood again.