Posted in Cooking, Food and Drinks
My sister once told me a joke about why we Asians have such squinted eyes: During dinnertime as kids, we would disdainfully say, “Rice again!?” while plopping our eyes on our heads in disgust. This, in turn, would stretch out our eyes over the years until they were long and thin.
It really is half-true … the rice everyday part. Generation upon generation of Asians ate rice as staple food. Because of this, we are connoisseurs on the subject of cooking rice. It runs in our blood. If you need to know anything about rice - how to make a perfect batch, what equipment you need, how to save a bad batch, etc - ask an Asian.
When I lived in boarding school, I was appalled at how they cooked rice. It was incredulous! Wet rice? Hard rice? Minute rice? Disgusting! Once, during the school year, I cooked for a couple of my friends and someone said, “I never knew rice could be this fluffy!” How painfully sad! My heart went out to these people! From then on, I decided to publicize the secrets of rice. How does one make perfect, fluffy white rice?
If you’re really serious about cooking rice, I suggest you buy an actual rice cooker. And I don’t mean just any rice cooker! Please, don’t buy a rice cooker from you local supercenter. Purchase one from your local Asian Food Market. Search for a rice cooker that an Asian on the other side of the world would be using. They certainly won’t be cooking with “westernized” piece of garbage made by General Electric from Wal-Mart. With an “Asian rice cooker,” rice will not burn or stick. After the rice is done, the cooker can even keep the rice warm for as long as a week! Expect to pay at least $40. Ours cost $100.
Rice and water. These two components are all that’s really necessary. Any water will do, but not any rice. Go all out and purchase a small bag or a couple pounds of Jasmine White Rice otherwise known to the western world as “Fragrant Rice.” For Brown rice, you can buy this anywhere. Purchase the long grain version for best results. Do not get the one that is short and fat. The texture is terrible!
How to Actually Cook Decent Rice
If you actually got this far, after shelling out a couple hundred dollars on quality rice and an Asian rice cooker, the rest is gravy.
- Pour (more or less) 4-5 cups of rice in the pan. It doesn’t really matter. The amount of water you add later will be relative to the amount of rice in the pan.
- Next, fill the pan with roughly double the amount of water and let the rice settle.
- Literally, “muddy the waters” with your hand so that all the rice is wet and the water is opaque. You are trying to get the impurities to float to the top.
- Carefully pour the water out while keeping the rice in.
- Repeat steps 3-5 one more time if there is still more debris.
- Now pour enough water to cover the rice for about an inch.
- Pat the rice down to the bottom. Submerge your hand and place the palm side on the mound the rice.
- The water should be as high as your wrist. Remove water as needed until it is just right. Remember that it is better to have too little water than too much. You can always add more water but it’s hard to take away excessive moisture.
- Place the rice pan in the rice cooker. Close the rice cooker.
- Turn the switch to “Cook.” The light color should change to “Warm” when the rice is done.
Techniques on Saving a Bad Batch of Rice
Unfortunately, even experts cook a bad batch of rice now and then. But don’t fret! There are always ways to recover what seems lost!
- My rice is too dry! This is quite easy. Just add about a cup or two of water, whatever suits you. Try to distribute it evenly in the pan. Sometimes I set it back on cook after adding more water. That isn’t necessary though.
- My rice is too wet! Find a small sauce bowl. Put at least a handful of salt in it and place it in the rice pan on top of the rice (so that the salt won’t touch the rice). The sodium in the bowl will absorb the water after an hour or two.
Good luck on your next batch of rice. Feel free to comment any questions below!
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