What al dente means?
Al dente is a term used in cooking to describe how e.g. pasta and rice should be cooked. Al dente means that it should be cooked so as to be still firm when bitten. That is probably the best way to describe it. When you take it up from the boiling water and bite it al the way through you should still feel a little resistance just before biting it over, wether it is pasta or risotto rice.
Why cook al dente?
You should cook pasta or rice al dente because it is recognized as giving the best taste in dishes and most delicious consistency. Amongst chefs you should always cook al dente.
Though when you ask the common folk there are many different opinions on how to cook pasta and rice. Some like it completely smooshy to the point where it stick, almost melts together and some like it with a lot more bite than al dente can offer, i have even met somebody that likes to eat pasta raw as a snack. The point is we all have different opinions on what makes the best food, so do not feel like you have to always cook al dente i f you do not like it that way.
How al dente should pasta and risotto be?
You cannot put a number or term on how al dente something should be, because either it is al dente or it is not al dente. Like i mentioned above you should cook pasta and risotto rice from what your personal taste is. If you are having dinner guests or cooking for others, i would recommend you cook al dente – always.
To answer the question of how dente your pasta and risotto should be i will refer to the top of this post where the definition is “Al dente means that it should be cooked so as to be still firm when bitten”. Normally you can just follow the cooking time indicated on the packing of the pasta and risotto, as it is the cooking time for an al dente result.
Hope you have a much more clear understanding of what al dente is and how to cook al dente.