People eat rice at least once a day in countries around the globe, making it the world’s most widely consumed staple food. It is also gluten-free; therefore a great choice for people with food sensitivities. Every cuisine on earth has a famous rice dish, from America’s wild rice pilafs to Italy’s risottos. Rice is synonymous with Asian food traditions. Consequently, many of my best food memories involve rice. Being a child of a Japanese chef, I’m sure it was probably my first solid food! So I think it’s fitting to start this blog detailing how to make perfect rice, every time.
Despite it being a basis of so many cuisines, cooking rice causes even the most seasoned chefs to panic. I can’t tell you how many professional chefs I’ve heard say things like, “It’s the one thing I can’t master. I always burn it and the pot!”. Or, “It either comes out wet and mushy, or dry and crunchy; I just can’t get it right!” So it should come as no surprise that perfect rice from a restaurant is consistent every time because we use rice cookers and warmers, that cook it perfectly with no guesswork, and keep it at the perfect temperature throughout service. And if you have one, great! But I am a big believer that home cooks don’t need to have every gadget on the market, especially with limited kitchen space. So with a few tips, you too can master this fundamental basic of Asian cuisine.
Making Perfect Rice
This is the most important step, and the one that home cooks are most likely to skip. Rinsing your rice helps to get rid of some of the starch that clings to the grains. That starch, when cooked, turns gluey and goopy. Furthermore, as rice is a natural product, rinsing it cleans any dirt or debris. Rinsing means the difference between fluffy distinct grains of rice, or a big mushy mess. In fact, I rinse every rice I plan to cook, from jasmine to basmati: unless of course, I’m making a dish like risotto or rice pudding where you want that sticky starch. Rinsing the rice takes just a couple minutes. And I promise you that it makes a huge difference, especially if you find your rice is usually on the clumpy side.
Let it rest
Rice needs a break. And if you have the time, you should give it one. Letting the rice soak in water allows the grains to start hydrating and will give you more evenly cooked grains. This is the one step that Japanese kitchens never skip. Soak the rice for 15-30 mins. But if you’re in a rush, it will be our secret.
Use a heavy bottomed pot, with a tight fitting lid
Lightweight cookware cooks unevenly. As a result, hot spots occur where rice scorches while other spots of the rice are barely cooked through. Just as important is a tight fitting lid which keeps the steam in the pan, where it belongs, and helps to insure that your rice cooks in the allotted time. If you notice a lot of steam escaping your pan, place a wet kitchen towel under the lid.
Use a fork to gently stir the rice
To ensure even cooking and moisture, you will need to “stir” the rice once. But by stir, I mean take a fork and turn the rice over a couple of times so the rice at the bottom and at the top get redistributed. Do not vigorously stir it like a risotto. Just a couple good flips once when the rice comes to a simmer is perfect.
When the rice is done
Let it sit covered for another five minutes or so off the heat, in the pan. This will allow it to absorb the remaining moisture, and create the fluffiest grains. Then, you fluff with a fork (only for medium or long grain rice), and you’re done. Rice is the perfect side dish with just about anything; some favorites I like to serve it alongside include Mapo Tofu, Red Curry Beef, and Chicken Adobo.Print
Make perfect rice, every time!
- 2 cups long grain white rice (Medium grain, thai jasmine, Indian or California Basmati)
- 2 cups water
- Put the rice in a bowl (I use the pot it will be cooking in) and rinse it a couple of times under running water to remove any excess starch.
- Then put the rice and the water in a heavy duty saucepan. If you have time, let the rice sit 15-30 mins to let it start absorbing the water, which will help it cook more evenly.
- Bring the pot to a simmer over medium high heat. Then lower the heat to medium low, use a fork to gently stir the rice with a fork to dislodge any rice starting to stick to the bottom, and cover it with a tight fitting lid. Cook for 10 minutes, until the water disappears, the steam starts to create little holes on the surface of the rice, and the rice starts to puff up.
- Then lower the heat to low and cook the rice covered for another 7-8 mins. Check the rice. The rice grains should look shiny and will have lost their chalky dull look.
- Try a small taste. If the rice is done, let it sit covered for another 5 mins. But if it still has a bit of a core, add 2 more tablespoons of water and cook for 5 extra minutes on low.
- Fluff the rice after resting with a fork. Serve hot.
*This recipe can be used for Japanese short grain rice. However, increase the water to 2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons water.
Keywords: rice, side dish
Restaurant quality rice, ready to be the canvas of countless delicious meals.
Perfect sticky rice, a traditional Thai side.
2 cups stick rice (Thai)
- Rinse the rice in a colander under running water and then put in a medium bowl.
- Cover rice with 6 cups of water and let the rice soak overnight or at least 4 hours. The rice is ready to cook if you can easily break a grain by holding it and pressing it against your nail.
- Place the rice on two layers of cheesecloth or a steamer cloth on a steamer basket insert (Make sure to rinse the cloth first).
- Fill the bottom pot with plenty of water and then place the steamer basket and a lid on top.
- Bring the pot to boil on high heat and let the rice steam 10 mins.
- Carefully lift the lid and gently flip the rice over so that the rice that was on the bottom is now on top, so you can evenly steam the rice. Cover the pot again and steam for an additional 10 mins.
- Check the rice. It should be translucent, shiny, and sticky. Take a little taste if you are unsure. The rice should have a nice chewy texture. If you’re not sure, you can continue to cook the rice for a little longer. You can’t really over steam it.
- Transfer the rice to a large bowl and serve hot.
Sticky rice is sometimes labeled glutinous or Thai. I like this one from Three Rings.