Cooking up some rice is a simply culinary skill everyone should possess. Who doesn’t know how to cook a pot of rice, right? Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Even without a rice cooker!
But we feel it is our duty to ensure you are taking all the proper steps to achieve Chinese restaurant-style steamed white rice at home. And since not everyone’s kitchen is stocked with a rice cooker, these instructions are for the old-fashioned stove-top-and-pot method of cooking.
Which type of rice to use?
While most long-grain varieties of white rice will do, we recommend using Jasmine rice. Jasmine rice is a long-grain variety that has a lovely floral and buttery aroma. When cooked properly, it has the perfect amount of stickiness for eating with chop-sticks and a delicate nutty flavour that can be enjoyed all on it’s own.
Even though Jasmine rice originates from Thailand, it has been adopted into Cantonese and other regional Chinese cuisines. Since it is also widely available in North America, most Chinese restaurants in this hemisphere are using Jasmine for those ubiquitous side dishes of steamed white rice.
- Start by rinsing the rice thoroughly with cool water. Either place the rice in a colander and run the tap for a little while or put the rice in a pot, fill it with water, and dump the water three times. The water will initially look rather cloudy, but should get clearer as you rinse more. Rinsing removes excess starch from the outside of the rice, which can make your rice gummy as it cooks.
- Soak the rice for at least 30 minutes in water. Soaking the rice will reduce cooking time, which not only saves time, but helps make more flavourful rice. The longer your rice is over heat, the less aromatic it will be, so shortening cook time is key. Plus, soaking your rice may also help reduce chemical toxins and pesticides in the rice. It’s a win-win really.
Next, measure out the proper amount of water:
- Asian method: Place your rice in the pot and fill with water until the rice is just covered. Shimmy the pot a bit to level out the rice. Dip your index finger into the water so it touches the top of the rice. Fill the pot until the water level is at your first knuckle (or just below).
- Measuring cup method: If the Asian method of measuring falls outside your comfort zone, use a measuring cup to achieve a ratio of 1:1.2 rice to water. Usually the package instructions are 1 cup to 1 ⅓ or 1 ½ cups water. By soaking the rice before-hand, you can cook with a little less water than called for.
- To cook, follow the 10-5-5 rule: Bring the water to a boil and let it boil for 10 minutes. Next, lower the heat and let it steam for 5 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Fluff with a fork, and it’s ready to serve.
And most of all, stay safe!