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.
now you do get the point across, that rice and water are measured by volume and the relation between those is key.
Nonetheless I wonder - as I've seen mostly metric measurements in your recipes - what volume a "cup" would be and how many servings that would make.
Thanks for the suggestion, Andreas. I will post a guide about the metric measurement for this blog. I use US metric measurements. 1 cup equals 240ml and the rice can serve 3 people.
Thank you for the valuable information. ..I am always having a problem with my rice the finish product is half uncooked.
Have you soak the rice previously?
This is an awesome easy fall dinner! I love the contrasting textures and flavors.
At home unfortunately I don't own a trasparent lid. Is it so bad if to open the lid during the cooking process?
Opening the lid during the cooking process is prohibited. Instead of opening the lid, you can simply watch the steam and see whether the water is cooked off.
Merci beaucoup pour vos recettes MERCI merci..,..
You are the most welcome, Reyne.
How long should you leave the lid on after turning off the fire? Before stirring while still hot,
Usually about 10 minutes. Actually it is ok to reave it for a longer time. Sometimes, I prepare other dishes well and then stirring the rice before serving.
Ok, this method of cooking rice is perfect and easy, just rocks, I have done several batches before you responded. I guessed 15 minutes with lid no fire. Just Perfect. So simple, before my rice was never quite right.
One more question, wife likes brown rice, recommended changes, if any. Jasmine is fine for now.
Oh for any lurkers, the rice is even better after a day or two in the fridge, absolutely perfect for stir fried rice, just remember to toss it into the wok while still cold.
You say not to remove the lid even after we turn off the heat, but you should add a specification regarding how long we should wait before breaking up the grains. Also, a note regarding cooking length: depending on your stove's strength, you may end up only cooking the rice for 12 minutes even without a cast iron pot. Ours is quite strong and it was done at 12 minutes.
Final note: I'm not sure whether this was your intention, but while slightly sticky to the touch, this rice did not end up being clumpy, at least not for me. Though steamed rice is certainly healthier than other alternatives, the appeal of Japanese rice lies more in its stickiness for me. This was a bit disappointing in that regard.
That's good suggestion, Cynthia. I have already added the specification. I did not count the time previously.
I'm so glad I found this technique! My rice came out perfectly. This is the only way I am going to make rice from this point on. Thank you.
I'm interested in trying to prepare brown rice this way, but I know it might require a longer cook time. Any suggestions?
I seldom cook brown rice, so I am sorry that I can't provide the instruction.
Total game changer!! This recipe made rice cooking a sinch!! My new go-to recipe!!
Thanks Bradley!!! Welcome to the new world of rice. Once this mastered, you can further start to make all types of fried rice.
This looks delicious, and I appreciate all your helpful notes and tips! Bookmarking for this weekend ?