How do restaurants cook rice?
October 7, 2009 10:07 AM   Subscribe

How do restaurants cook rice?
posted by judytaos to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
The Chinese restaurant I frequent uses four of those big rice cookers. They're low-maintenance, I suppose: fill it and forget about it, leaving more time for other things.
posted by rokusan at 10:09 AM on October 7, 2009

When I worked in a restaurant, we mostly followed the directions on the bag. Add a little salt and/or sugar and/or vinegar and stop it cooking right before it's done. Spread on a full sheet to cool down quickly. Then, for each order, reheating the rice will finish cooking & it's ready to go.
posted by Dmenet at 10:17 AM on October 7, 2009

I see rice cookers in Mexican places all the time.

I would be surprised if any restaurants make rice without rice cookers, though.
posted by grobstein at 10:17 AM on October 7, 2009

The chinese place i used to work at had two rice cookers. The burned stuff at the bottom, and any of the rice that was hard from being exposed to the air, got thrown in a bin in the cooler and the cook used it to make the fried rice for the next day.
posted by d13t_p3ps1 at 10:19 AM on October 7, 2009

One restaurant I worked in, and both institutional kitchens at places where I worked, baked it. It bakes really easily and produces a fluffy, dry rice with separate grains. This was done in a large hotel pan in restaurants, but I am sure you could use a Pyrex or roasting pan at home. Here is a site with what look like good directions - it mirrors the process I saw in restaurant kitchens.
posted by Miko at 10:28 AM on October 7, 2009 [18 favorites]

Every restaurant I've worked in has cooked rice with Miko's method. Generally fool-proof and doesn't necessitate a rice cooker taking up often valuable kitchen real estate.

But, I have seen places that cook a ton of rice (mostly Asian and Latin cuisines) use heavy-duty rice cookers.
posted by General Malaise at 10:35 AM on October 7, 2009

to cook LARGE amounts of rice very quickly (e.g. for an event), the best way is to steam it. less than 5 minutes per batch.
posted by randomstriker at 10:42 AM on October 7, 2009

All the asian food places I have worked at had a big rice cooker. Leftover rice was used for fried rice the next day.

That said, the western food places I worked at would bake the rice as Miko was saying.

I think the difference is that asian food assumes a sticky clumpy rice (which I prefer, personally) to a fluffy dry rice in european foods. But, I will admit I don't know much about it beyond my experience.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:18 AM on October 7, 2009 [2 favorites]

This says it's for Sushi Rice, but you can ignore this and use it for any rice, but making rice in the oven turns out amazingly well. No really. Try it.
posted by jeremias at 11:27 AM on October 7, 2009

Places where rice is a main component of the meal, like Asian restaurants? Huge electric rice cookers, with the rice cooker setting on 'warm' after the rice is done. Cooks, clerks, etc. then just scoop out the rice as needed, and it's still fresh, hot, and tasty.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:28 AM on October 7, 2009

Cook the rice, then leave it in the fridge for a day or two. When you re-heat it, it will taste like asian-food rice. I definitely don't say this as a bad thing either, it's how I prefer my rice.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 11:53 AM on October 7, 2009

At my father's restaurant, they serve both rice and peas and plain white rice, and they make it stovetop method using the largest pot I have ever seen.
posted by alice ayres at 11:54 AM on October 7, 2009

You might get better results if you tell us what kind of restaurant - Indian restaurants generally serve rice very differently than Chinese restaurants for example. As for the latter, as everyone in this thread has mentioned, they use rice cookers.
posted by pravit at 12:37 PM on October 7, 2009

You might get better results if you tell us what kind of restaurant - Indian restaurants generally serve rice very differently....

pravit, I'm interested in any techniques that are commonly used in restaurants of any kind. How does rice prep in an Indian restaurant differ from the rice cooker method used in Chinese restaurants?
posted by judytaos at 1:10 PM on October 7, 2009

Rice cookers are usually used in asian restaurants as they will keep the rice warm for service. Most restaurants will run at least two rice cookers so that they can always have some ready to serve. One holding the rice at temperature and one or more cooking the next batch. At hotel and banquet kitchens it is more common to either use a commercial steamer like an Auto Sham or to bake the rice in 200 pans in the oven. It then served or dumped onto sheet pans to cool and reheated to order in smaller quantities. Reheating the rice is usually done by tossing it in a sautee pan with liquid or zapping it in a microwave. Restaurants serving smaller quantities usually just cook it on top of the stove in a sauce pan using the one knuckle technique and reheat it to order. The biggest differences in the taste and texture of the rice comes from whether or not the rice is washed or parched before cooking, the type of rice used and the liquid used to cook or reheat the rice. All of the above is for generic white rice. Cooking arborio, brown rice, flattened rice . . . would be different.
posted by calumet43 at 4:14 PM on October 7, 2009

It's kind of niche however there are times when one of the restaurants I've worked for would use boil in bag rice. Potatoes, eggs, kraft dinner, and assorted vegetables are also available this way for commercial use. It's great when you are catering an event where the only cooking equipment is an open flame (say an ice fishing tournament) as all you need is a pot and water.
posted by Mitheral at 4:38 PM on October 7, 2009

I worked at an indan restaurant, and we used a great big rice cooker on warm to hold rice that we steamed in a huge rondo over a gigantic burner.
posted by bzbb at 5:46 PM on October 7, 2009

It then served or dumped onto sheet pans to cool and reheated to order in smaller quantities.

I've seen it reheated like that per portion, but I've also seen it held on a steam table, with a lid, where it can remain really hot and steamy.
posted by Miko at 7:34 PM on October 7, 2009

Steam it in the combi.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:02 PM on October 7, 2009

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