You may have cooked pilaf the same way for decades and had perfectly acceptable rice. But cookbook writer Yotam Ottolenghi has a technique you may never have considered. He soaks the rice. Then, instead of cooking it with a measured amount of water, he cooks it in a big pot like pasta.
The rice turned out terrific. It wasn’t so much the flavor, but the texture. The grains were completely separate with no clumping, and so light they seemed to float off the plate.
Basic steps to perfect pilaf:
1. Rinse the rice well under running water to remove excess starch.
2. Soak rice in salted water for at least 1 hour to shorten cooking time.
3. Cook rice like pasta, in plenty of boiling salted water, until almost done.
4. Spoon rice into a pan with whatever flavorings you want, mounding it slightly to give the grains room to expand.
5. Sprinkle over more water, and fat if you wish, cover tightly and cook over the lowest possible heat for at least 35 minutes.
6. Remove from heat, take off the lid, cover pan with a tea towel, put lid back on tightly and let stand for 10 minutes before serving to let the rice firm and reduce moisture.