Rice cooker is the most frequently used equipment in a common Chinese kitchen. It is easy, efficient and capable for qualified steamed rice. This post is to introduce how to make steamed rice without a rice cooker, using either a casting iron pot or non-stick pot on stove. You can make perfect springy rice quickly with this method. This is the perfect rice for Chinese fried rice.
Making steamed rice is a very basic skill for preparation a Chinese meal. I can handle this successfully when I was 7 years old, working as my mom’s kitchen assistant. We do not measure the rice and water by cups or other tools. We use a very traditional way—measuring by fingers. When the rice is spread evenly in the pot, dig one finger in and the height of water layer should be similar to the height of rice layer. The volume of water should be similar to volume of rice for this lid covered method introduced today.
The best steamed rice in Chinese people’s mind is the real “steamed rice” with steamers. Lots of restaurants provide this type of traditionally steamed rice. Rice grains are firstly cooked in a large wok or pot until 80% cooked. Then they are strained and transfer to a steamer. Sometimes, a small amount of rice is kept in the liquid to make a porridge or congee. Or the grains are completely removed and liquid is served as a drink or soup (米汤 in Chinese). Following is the steamer in my grandma's kitchen.
The method of this post and rice cooker method are based on the traditional method, but produce small differences to the cooked rice. Steamed rice by a steamer contains less water and is less sticky.
Pick your equipment with a lid: a cast iron pot, clay pot or a common pot (non-stick pot is recommended). For beginners, you can start with a nonstick pot with a transparent cover. I judge the state of rice by observing the water vapor.
Wash the rice 1-2 times (this step is to remove extra starch content) and then rinse under the water becomes clear.
Then place the rice in your pot and add similar volume of water (you can measure with cup or use finger). Cover the lid and soak the rice for 20 minutes.
Heat over high fire to boil the content. Slow down the fire slightly to avoid overspill. Cook for around 12 to 15 minutes. Then turn off the fire completely. This step completes the process, but you should never open the lid during this period.
How to Make Rice without a Rice Cooker
- 2 cups long rice
- 2 cups water
- Wash the rice 1-2 times (this step is to remove extra starch content). Then place the rice in your pot and add similar volume of water. Cover the lid and soak the rice for 20 minutes.
- Heat over high fire to boil the content (largest amount of water vapor). Slow down the fire to medium to avoid overspill. Cook for around 12 to 15 minutes (note1) until the water is almost gone (note2). Then turn off the fire completely. This step completes the process, but you should never open the lid.
- Then break up the grains gently around 5 to 10 minutes later. (Note 3) and enjoy.
Note 2: you can observe this via a transparent cover or watch the water vapor. The vapor should be quite faint and you can smell the rice aroma.
Note 3: you should break up the grains gently when it is still hot. This can help to remove remaining water and avoid then rice sticky to the bottom after chilled.