You know me – I’m a sucker for a rice dish. Fried rice, steamed rice, baked rice… it’s all good in my eyes. And, just like anyone else who grew up with an Asian mum, it’s been ingrained (pun intended) in me since I was kid how to cook it just right. It all comes down to what you’re using your rice for – fried rice, for instance, always works better with drier, day-old grains. So how to get it spot-on? Follow my fool-proof method for cooking rice and don’t ever get tripped up again.
Hainanese Chicken Rice is a total classic. But you’ve got to get that rice spot-on.
This method is ideal for four serves, but you can absolutely adapt it to suit larger quantities. Keep reading for my handy hint… because you MAY have been doing it wrong up until this moment.
Place 2 cups of long grain rice into a fine sieve and rinse it with water to remove excess starch. Then add it into a saucepan along with 2½ cups water and, over a high heat, bring to a boil.
Now reduce the heat to medium and cook until you can see the rice grains poking up above the water. Cover the saucepan with a lid set slightly ajar so some of the steam can escape. Cook for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes, it should look like all of the water has been absorbed by the rice. Turn the heat off and cover completely with the lid. Allow the pot to sit covered for 10 minutes to allow the steam to continue cooking the rice. When you’re ready to serve, use a fork to gently fluff up the rice.
I got you. And here’s the secret: follow the same procedure to make the same amount, but reduce the water to 2¼ cups. That’s because when you’re cooking rice for fried rice, you want the grains drier, as they’ll be cooked again in the wok.
Once you’ve done your 1-2-3 steps and fluffed up the rice grains, spread the rice out on a large baking tray. Place it in the fridge, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes (although overnight is best) to dry it out. And done: it’s now ready to use for fried rice.
Ah, the magical rice/water ratio. It’s a total brainteaser for so many people, but here’s the knowledge you’ve been waiting for.
You’ve probably come across some guidance that gives a rice-to-water ratio of 1:1.5, which means if you’ve got one cup of rice you use one-and-a-half cups of water. However, once you start making larger quantities, you run into trouble.
My tip? You only ever need an extra ½ cup of water (or ¼ cup for fried rice), no matter how much rice you’re cooking. It’s simply there for evaporation, regardless of quantity. So 1 cup of rice needs 1½ cups of water, and 10 cups of rice needs only 10½ cups of water. So simple.
Now to start scaling that mountain of rice recipes…