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In cooking, the adjective al dente describes pasta and (less commonly) rice that has been cooked so as to be firm but not hard. "Al dente" also describes vegetables that are cooked to the "tender crisp" phase - still offering resistance to the bite, but cooked through.Al Dente is often considered to be the preffered form of cooked pasta. The term comes from Italian and means "to the tooth" or "to the bite", referring to the need to chew the pasta due to its firmness.
Cooking rice or pasta to the "al dente" stage without over-cooking requires a certain amount of practice and skill, since both have a relatively brief midway stage between the under-cooked phase, where rice or dried pasta stays hard in the middle and where fresh pasta tastes "floury", and the over-cooked phase, where the dish lacks texture and is considered too soft.
article courtesy of My Family Kitchen.
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