What is Wild Rice?
Although it sounds like it is just the wild version of regular cultivated rice, wild rice is actually not rice at all. Instead of being a grain, it is a semi-aquatic grass that is native to the Great Lakes region of North America. It used to grow wild, but now is cultivated and harvested for sale. Wild rice has a nutty flavor and a chewy texture, but what is most noticeably different from regular rice is that it is less starchy, less prone to becoming sticky.
Do I Have to Soak Wild Rice?
You don’t have to soak wild rice, but you can if you like. Soaking the rice in a bowl of water for at least 30 minutes or as long as 2 hours will cut down on the cooking time by 50%, but since it takes time to soak, it doesn’t really save you any time. It is a good idea to rinse wild rice before cooking, just to rinse off any dust or impurities that might be packaged with the rice or any excess starch.
How to Cook Wild Rice
Wild rice is cooked by boiling it in liquid until it becomes tender and bursts a little. This is similar to how you cook regular white or brown rice, except that you don’t have to wonder about the ratio of rice to liquid. Wild rice should be simmered in an abundance of liquid. I tend to use a ratio of at least 4 parts liquid to 1 part rice, but an excess of water is all that you are looking for. Here’s the process:
- Rinse the wild rice.
- Bring 4 cups of liquid to a boil in a saucepan.
- Add 1 cup of wild rice and 1 teaspoon salt and reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes.
- Strain the rice, discarding the excess liquid.
- Return the rice to the saucepan, cover with a clean kitchen towel and pop the lid on top. Let the rice sit for 10 minutes off the heat.
- Fluff and serve or use in a recipe.
Flavoring Wild Rice
I like wild rice cooked in water so that the nutty flavor of the rice really shines. However, one of the easiest ways to incorporate more flavor into wild rice is to cook it in vegetable, chicken or beef stock. The rice will absorb this flavor as it cooks. You can also add butter, sautéed onion or shallot, smashed garlic cloves, spices or herbs to the pot while the rice cooks to incorporate more flavor.
How to Serve Wild Rice
Wild rice is delicious served as a side dish, warm with butter and fresh herbs stirred in at the last minute. It can also be used as a base for a rice salad or as an ingredient in a rice salad like this one. Wild rice is also delicious in soups and can be cooked in the soup as it is in this Cream of Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup, or added to a soup once it has been cooked. Wild rice is also very popular stirred into a pot of regular white rice or used as a stuffing for poultry or fish.
- Wild rice is actually a grass, not a grain.
- You don’t need to soak wild rice, but you can if you want to shorten the cooking time.
- How to Cook Wild Rice:
- Rinse the rice
- Add 1 cup rice to 4 cups boiling water on the stovetop
- Add 1 tsp salt
- Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes
- Return rice to pot for 10 minutes with a clean towel and lid on top
- Fluff and serve.
- You can add flavors to wild rice by cooking it in stock, adding butter, sautéed onion, smashed garlic, herbs or spices to the pot
- Serve wild rice as a side dish, in a salad, in a soup, or blended with white rice.