Plain Cuban Rice

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Preparation info

  • Makes about

    5½ cups

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Seductions of Rice

By Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

Published 1998

  • About

The goal in cooking plain Cuban rice is to produce a light, white, fluffy dish of rice, very like Carolina-style Plain Long-Grain Rice. The cooking method resembles the Persian chelo technique: The rice is cooked in plenty of water and thoroughly drained, then put back in the pot and tossed with a little oil or melted lard or butter to coat the grains. The rice then slow-steams until ready to be served, the bottom layer forming a delicious crust, here called the raspa, prized for its taste and chewiness just like the tahdig in chelo. Serve with Cuban Black Beans or in place of any plain non–East Asian white rice.


  • 2 cups American long-grain white rice
  • 10 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons melted butter or lard or warm olive oil


Wash the rice thoroughly in cold running water until the water runs clear. Drain well in a sieve. Place the water and salt in a large heavy pot and bring to a rapid boil. Sprinkle in the rice and bring back to a boil. Use a long-handled spoon to gently lift any rice off the bottom of the pot. Cook until just tender but still firm, about 5 minutes, then drain immediately in a sieve.

Put the rice back in the pot, drizzle with the butter, lard, or oil, and toss gently to coat. Shape into a gentle mound. Wrap the lid in a cotton cloth and cover the pot tightly. Place over medium heat and steam for 3 minutes, then reduce the heat to very low and steam for another 15 minutes. Set aside, covered, until ready to serve. Serve, together with the bottom crust, in a large shallow bowl or on a platter.