How to Cook Rice

Here are some of my tips to help you cook the perfect plain rice at home.

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Rice is the most-important staple food in Chinese cuisine. In China, we have a common greeting, "Ni chi fan le mei you?" It means "Have you eaten?" This phrase is more popular than "How are you?"

The Mandarin Chinese word "fan" means both "food" and "cooked rice," and used in this common greeting, you can see how important rice is to the Chinese!

There is nothing like the sweet jasmine scent of rice cooking in the kitchen to get my taste buds going. There is also no other dish that can act as the perfect canvas for punchy, bold, delicious Chinese dishes. Plain jasmine rice is the perfect accompaniment to wok-tossed meat, fish, seafood and vegetable dishes. Yet this simple mainstay dish of any Chinese meal can be tricky to master, especially if you don’t know the techniques.

So here are some of my tips to help you cook the perfect plain rice at home. This applies to most varieties of long- or medium-grain rice. Please note that for hardier rice varieties, like wild rice, the cooking times may take longer and often require a bit more water for cooking; some shorter-grain varieties are starchier and stickier in nature, and they need less water to cook. This is a simple guide, so please always check on package instructions or follow the recipe you are cooking.

Here are my general rules for making jasmine rice:

Step 1: Wash the rice well. Place the rice in a fine sieve and run cold water through the rice, and use your hands to move the rice around in the water, making sure you wash off the excess starch on the rice. Keep doing this until the water runs clear. Drain well.

Step 2: Get a good medium pot with a tight-fitting lid with a small vent hole. This basic equipment is not expensive. You don’t need a rice cooker. The vent hole allows steam to escape and acts as a natural gauge of how much steam is being created in the pot. If there's too much steam or pressure in the pot, the vent will allow just the right amount to escape so your rice isn't soggy (the result of not letting any steam escape). The vent will also help you avoid any lid-rattling issues. [mhc1] So, transfer the washed rice to the pot.

Step 3: Measure the right amount of water. As a rule of thumb, double the quantity of water to the amount of rice you have in volume. For example, if you have 250g of rice, use 500ml of water. Pour the water into the pot with the rice.

Step 4: Bring the rice to a boil (uncovered). Place the pot with rice and water on high heat and cook until the water starts to boil. Once it has come to a boil, turn the heat to low.

Step 5: Turn the heat to the lowest setting (place the lid on) and cook covered for 15-20 minutes, until all the water has been absorbed. Be sure to keep an eye on the time, or you will get burned rice at the bottom of the pan. This way of cooking rice is, in fact, encompassing two cooking techniques: You are boiling the rice and then letting it simmer and cook in the steam created in the pot, so technically we should be calling it "boiled-steamed" rice!

Step 6: Remove from the heat, fluff up the rice with a fork or chopsticks and serve.

I hope this helps you on your way to making perfect jasmine rice. Happy cooking!

Eat well and be happy,


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