Steaming rice the Chinese way is simple, direct and efficient. I prefer to use long-grain white rice, which is drier and fuffier when cooked and gives the most authentic results in wok cooking. There are many varieties hut I particularly like basmati or Thai fragrant rice which are widely available. Don’t use pre-cooked or ‘easy-cook’ rice for Chinese cookery as both these types of rice have insufficient flavour and lack the texture and starchy taste fundamental to Chinese rice.
The secret of preparing rice that is not sticky is to cook it first in an uncovered pan at a high heat until most of the water has evaporated. Then the heat should be turned down to very low, the pan covered and the rice cooked slowly in the remaining steam. As a child I was always instructed never to peek into the rice pan during this stage or else precious steam would escape and the rice would not be cooked properly, thus bringing bad luck.
Here is a good trick to remember: if you make sure that you cover the top of the rice with about
Most Chinese eat quite large quantities of rice (about
Put the rice into a large bowl and wash it in several changes of water until the water becomes clear. Drain the rice and put it into a heavy pan with the water and bring it to the boil. Continue boiling until most of the surface liquid has evaporated. This should take about IS minutes. The surface of the rice should then have small indentations like pitted craters. At this point, cover the pot with a very tight-fitting lid, turn the heat down to as low as possible and let the rice cook undisturbed for 15 minutes. There is no need to ‘fluff’ the rice. Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.
© 1996 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.