Do you remember what you were told to do when cooking rice? Two parts water, to one part rice right? Well, scientists now believe that using that method to cook rice — where the water is eventually steamed off — could be extremely hazardous to your health.
Scientists at the Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, have found that a lot of rice is contaminated with the lethal chemical arsenic, which is a byproduct of pesticides, and remains in the soil for decades.
When you use the "steaming" method to cook rice, the arsenic remains in the rice and could lead to a numerous ailments, including cancer.
Professor Andy Meharg of Queen's University said that the best way to cook rice was to soak it overnight, and then drain off that water before cooking it. When done this way the arsenic content was reduced by up to 80%.
If you can't steep the rice overnight, says Meharg, then it's better to use the ratio of one part rice to five parts water, and then drain the excess liquid. This results in reducing the contaminants by 50%.
Rice has been getting a lot of bad Press lately
In September last year, a report by the UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) stated that one of the leading causes of food poisoning in the UK was from eating reheated rice.
The FSA, however, specified that it's not so much the way the rice is reheated that's dangerous, but the way it's stored after it's cooked.
The FSA stated that uncooked rice does harbor bacteria that cause food poisoning. Cooking the rice rarely kills off all the bacteria.
After cooking, if the rice is left to cool and stay at room temperature for too long, the surviving bacteria start multiplying, making the rice unfit to eat, and potentially causing food poisoning.
The FSA says that after rice is cooked it should be rapidly cooled (within an hour) and put in the fridge for no more than 24 hours.
So the next time you're cooking rice remember: 5 parts water to 1 part rice; cook it; cool it; and stick it in the fridge.
Now that you know how to cook rice...cook this
1 green bell pepper, chopped
24 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound chicken, diced
2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
8 cloves garlic, chopped
3 bay leaves
One 32-ounce can chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups rice
4 cups chicken stock
1 pound andouille sausage, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a large stockpot set over high heat. Add the celery, onions and peppers, and saute until tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the shrimp, chicken and Creole seasoning in a large bowl and stir to coat.
Add the garlic to the stockpot, and saute for 1 minute. Add the bay leaves, tomatoes and Worcestershire. Add the rice and stir to coat in the oil, then stir in the stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender and absorbs some of the liquid, about 15 minutes. Add the chicken, shrimp and sausage to the stockpot, and cook until the meat is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Serve hot.
Recipe courtesy of Amanda Freitag via Foodnetwork