Cooking Rice, The Erratic Steps

The electric rice cooker rule: wash rice, add one cup water for every cup rice, plug the equipment, press it on and wait.

Cooking over lpg stove or wood fire is a different story. It might be as simple as, washing rice, adding 1.5 cups water for every cup rice, bringing to running boil and lowering the fire until done.  However, the reality can be very complex.

Erratic Steps…

1) a. Wash rice twice. b. Wash rice several times or until the washing is not cloudy. c. Never wash nutrient fortified rice or the nutrients will be carried away. Save the washing for cooking soup or discard cause there are still too many stocks in refrigerator.

Saving rice washing for cooking soup is an old tradition. Literally means saving the nutrients that go with the water after. It has the tendency to make the soup thicker because of added starch. However, if you do the washing for the sake of removing dirt. Then, why use the dirty water to cook other foods.

Thorough washing is done to prevent rice clumps. The water whitish color is due to powdery starch – result of rice polishing. These powder particles make the water thicker for soups. But, for rice itself, it become thicker and thicker to the point that it holds individual cooked rice grain together.

2) Add 1.5 cups water for every cup rice. Then how can I measure the residual water left after washing. A before and after weight measurement will do but too tedious for most cooks. I bet no one is doing such!

Different rice types may require varying amount of water, so the 1 1/2:1 ratio is not universal. A trial and error is also necessary.

3) In reality, gatang is used to measure rice but the same gatang will not be used for measuring water. Instead, measure the rice depth using fingers, multiply it by two and add water to compensate the new set depth.

In case the amount of water added is not certain, the rice is inspected after running boil. If almost all water have evaporated and the rice is still too gritty – more water is added or a wet towel is placed on cover. If the rice is almost done but there is still too much water – it is scooped out with a spoon.

4) a. Place the cauldron over a strong flame then lower the fire after the running boil. b. Place it over strong fire with no cover, cover it after the running boil and lower the fire. c. Place it over strong flame, mix it thoroughly when comes to running boil, put back the cover, then lower the flame after few minutes.

Finally! Let the rice rest for a while before serving.

Base on experience, high volume rice cooking is a different story. I saw many people failed at this during birthdays, fiestas and other large gatherings. Parts were well done, other were raw and bottom part burnt.  They failed achieving this condition. The flame should be strong enough to immediately bring the water to running boil and able to mix the grains.  Other intervene by stirring several times.

Marvin is the lead chocolate maker of Ben and Lyn Chocolate Inc. Has strong background in food research and development. Occasionally conducts training and lectures. Lecturer of Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines. Do coaching and consultancy services on his free time.

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