Chewy rice?
June 11, 2012 2:23 PM   Subscribe

How do I get that soft, chewy consistency to the rice I make at home? I'm thinking about the consistency of the rice in bibimbap - or to get really specific, the rice at Astor Mediterranean in Washington, DC.

There are a few kinds of rice I'm thinking about as examples:

1. The rice typically found in bibimbap - it's soft/chewy, which helps it soak up the egg yolk nicely and provides a great counterpoint to the crunchy bean sprouts/kimchee.

2. This one really great little Mediterranean take-out place I used to go to in Washington, DC called Astor (here's a pic of their rice, although it's probably not that helpful).

The consistency is less chewy than sticky rice or sushi rice, but more than the rice you typically would get at a Chinese restaurant.

I'm guessing I need to buy a certain kind of rice, maybe something Korean. Is there something more specific that I should be looking for? And is there a certain way I should make it to get that consistency? More/less water?

I do have a cheapo rice maker, and I've already discovered that cooking rice in good broth does make it a bit more chewy.
posted by lunasol to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Can you be more specific about exactly what you are doing with the rice, and exactly which rice you use?

I have made bibimbap a number of times and was taught to do so by a Korean person. And what I do is start with Asian short grain rice (I use Kokuho Rose brand, but only because the Asian market always has it and it's pretty cheap - I see they label it as "sushi rice" so I don't think it's anything uniquely Korean), combine one unit by volume of rice, typically a half cup, with two units by volume of cold water, heat intensely over gas heat until it boils, stir, cover, and simmer until it's done. Usually like 10 minutes.

I think this is pretty standard rice preparation, though, so maybe provide more details if I'm missing something?
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 2:34 PM on June 11, 2012

I don't know from Korean rice in particular (though I cook a lot of "Japanese" rice (actually Kokuho Rose brand, which is from the US) in my Zojirushi).

Do you wash your rice before you cook it? Since getting our rice maker, we wash--and I mean really wash--all the rice dust off. I'd say 5 rinses at least, until the water is completely clear. When we make the rice, it is really perfect without getting too sticky; you can cook it until it's tender without getting just globs.

Also, FWIW, we do try to be really exacting with the measurements. I've winged it in the past, but making exactly the proportions demanded by my Zojirushi overlord has given great results.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:34 PM on June 11, 2012

I didn't know how to make rice until I dated an Iranian guy. They are (or at least he is) VERY SERIOUS about rice. Throw away your rice cooker. This method will produce rice delicious enough to eat plain out of the pot. (Yes, I have posted this here before...copy/paste away!)

1. Use long grain basmati rice. Royal is a good brand.

2. Obtain a nonstick pot with lid.

3. Put some rice in the pot.

4. Rinse it twice in cold water. (Just a quick swish and drain is sufficient.)

5. Now put in enough cold water so that you can sort of see the rice beneath. If you stick
your finger in there, you should get a little more than half a fingertip submerged before you hit the rice. Add a little more if you're making a lot of rice.

6. Add some oil (olive oil is great, but regular old canola or veg will work just fine), maybe about a teaspoon and a half.

7. Add some salt to taste. Maybe about a teaspoon.

8. Stir it with some sort of stirring implement that won't scratch your nonstick pot.

9. Put the pot, uncovered, over high heat, until it just starts to boil.

10. Immediately cover the rice and turn the heat down low. Like, really low. Like, just a tic above the lowest low.


12. After 15 minutes, quickly slide the lid back, pick a few grains of rice off the top, replace the lid, and taste those rice grains.

13. How's the rice? Does it taste AWESEOME? Hell yes, it tastes awesome. That's because it's the best rice you have ever made. Remove the pot from heat and remove lid.

14. If the rice doesn't taste awesome yet, like if it's a tiny bit crunchy, turn the sink on so that there's a slow trickle of cold water, and pass the rice (remove the lid first) under this a few times to add a liiiitle bit more water.

15. Put the lid back on and return to low heat for another 3-5 minutes, then refer back to step 13.

Enjoy! (I can attest that this method produces rice that soaks up egg yolk really well.)
posted by phunniemee at 2:35 PM on June 11, 2012 [13 favorites]

Short grain Asian rice cooks up stickier and more chewy than long-grained parboiled rice (what I think of as "American rice"). If you want rice like you have in Korean food, you buy Korean-style or Japanese-Style rice. I like Nishiki brand or Kokuho Rose, and I just cook it in any rice maker at a 2:1 ratio of water:rice.
posted by jb at 2:40 PM on June 11, 2012

Can you be more specific about exactly what you are doing with the rice, and exactly which rice you use?

I pretty much just cook it in the rice cooker with a 2:1 water:rice ratio until the rice cooker says it's done. No rinsing. I typically use Trader Joe's jasmine or basmati.
posted by lunasol at 2:42 PM on June 11, 2012

Generally, for chewy Asian-style rice, you need short-grain, though the Mediterranean place might be serving a medium-grain variety. You can certainly buy a Korean brand, and it would probably be fun to compare several varieties, but I actually really like Calrose, a brand grown in California and sold at Asian markets.

You should also make sure you're cooking the rice properly. There are dozens of tutorials on the internet, but generally, for Asian-style short grain:

1. Wash the rice in several changes of water, until the water is cloudy but no longer milky-white. Scrub it gently with your hand, but not so roughly that you break the grains.

2. Let it soak for 30 minutes to a couple of hours.

3. Add the correct amount of water (depends on the age of the rice, but generally two parts water to one part rice).

4. Cover the pot loosely (with the lid slightly askew) and gently bring to a boil, until you see starchy bubbles around the rim. NEVER TOUCH THE RICE WHILE IT IS COOKING.

5. When you see those bubbles, turn off the heat as low as possible and cover tightly. NEVER TOUCH THE RICE WHILE IT IS COOKING. DO NOT EVEN TOUCH THE LID.

6. Check it after 14-16 minutes (depends on how low the lowest setting on your stove is). If it isn't done, let it go for a few more minutes.
posted by pullayup at 2:43 PM on June 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Taking a look at the photo that is not an Indica but a Japonica variety.

Ah, you will need a medium short grain rice that is used for everyday use. Nishiki is the standard. Sushi rice is treated in a different manner with sugar/mirin, vinegar and salt in addition to maybe with less water (depends on the preference of the sushi master).

Also, you will need to soak the rice for at least 20 minutes after washing if you want it to be soft instead of chewy.
posted by jadepearl at 2:43 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Argh! Just lost comment somehow. Short version:

You must buy short grain rice. I had Tamanishiki in a yellow bag previously, wasn't exactly one to one ratio but turned out great every time. Couldn't find it again so bought Kagayaki rice which does have a one to one ratio of rice to water. Yesterday I didn't rinse it and the rice was harder and drier than I wanted. Today I rinsed it twice and it was much better (plus I made more).

Buy short grain Asian rice, ideally Korean (or Japanese) and follow the instructions on the bag. No peeking under lid and no walking away (too far) from stove. It will turn out fine. But it is definitely the type of rice as opposed to the cooking method that makes the difference.
posted by bquarters at 2:52 PM on June 11, 2012

I'm Chinese, so I love my jasmine rice, but it sounds like you want the characteristics of a shorter grain rice. I use it when it's appropriate. I wasn't a fan of Cal Rose and have gone back to Kokuho.
posted by advicepig at 2:53 PM on June 11, 2012

nthing short grain Japanese or Chinese rice.

Also either get a decent rice cooker or cook it on the stove in a heavy bottomed pot.

Here is my for amazing stovetop rice I adapted from a japanese home cooking book.

Do not take off the lid during cooking.

1. Wash twice with cold/lukewarm water for a 2 minutes.
2. Add 1 1/2 times the amount of water. (2 cup rice = 3 cup water)
3. Put on stove with lid at medium/high heat.
4. When starts to boil, turn on high heat for 2 minutes.
5. Reduce to medium heat for 5 minutes
6. Reduce to low for 10 minutes.
7. Take off stove and let sit for 5 minutes.
posted by wongcorgi at 2:54 PM on June 11, 2012

As others have said, it's the type of rice and the water-to-rice ratio. The recommended brands (Kokuho Rose, Nishiki) are the standard, so you can't go wrong with them.

Soaking, on the contrary, is generally not necessary (rinsing, however, is). The most important thing, really, is the ratio, and the 2:1 suggested here is a bit much- the rice will be a bit too runny/sticky, which is a definite no-no (as is the opposite, too little water, where the rice comes out hard).

Pro-tip: my father taught me this. After you pour in the rice and water, lay your hand flat on top of the rice, palm down. The water level should just about cover all your knuckles, but no more. I've never gone wrong with this. (Of course, depending on the size of your hand, YMMV, but that just goes to show how the 2:1 ratio is off.)

And yes, do not take the lid off at any point during cooking.
posted by war wrath of wraith at 2:55 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Due to my extreme laziness and love of perfect rice, I would suggest a fuzzy logic rice cooker with a bimimbap setting. I second the recommendations about also getting an appropriate brand of rice and washing as directed. (I take my rice washing directions from one of my favorite cookbooks, the Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook.)
posted by bearwife at 3:04 PM on June 11, 2012

Korean person here. We don't use jasmine or basmati rice or any type of long grain rice. For "Korean" rice, typical brands you'd use in the U.S. would be Kokuho Rose or Nishiki, although I've also had good luck with organic short grain rice from the bulk foods section at Whole Foods. Everybody else has provided great instructions for cooking rice. Just be mindful of the water:rice ratio - I've found that 2:1 results in very mushy rice without the chewiness, and usually go with 3:2, although your mileage may vary depending on the rice cooker and how old your rice is.
posted by needled at 3:05 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

lay your hand flat on top of the rice, palm down.

You may have more or less success with this based on the size of your hand. My hands are too large to fit in anything I cook rice in, so I use water deep enough to reach the first joint of my first finger if I"m just touching the rice under the water with my fingertip. It is a little less than 2:1.
posted by pullayup at 3:05 PM on June 11, 2012

If it's a Mediterranean dish you're looking to imitate, it might be carnaroli rice. It's definitely bigger/fatter and has got more bite than long grained Chinese rice, but it's less sticky than Japanese short grain.
posted by emeiji at 3:22 PM on June 11, 2012

You want short-grain Asian rice. I suppose Kokuho Rose and Nishiki etc are okay, but we only purchase our rice at a Japanese convenience store - the rice is called Koshihikari and is produced in California, Texas and Oklahoma.

Anyway, it's a little higher quality than the short-grain stuff you get in the supermarket. As far as cooking it, we use an actual rice cooker. You can get those in Chinatown for $100.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:31 PM on June 11, 2012

Well, I like my rice mushy, so I do 2:1. But 3:2 so works. Rinsing will certainly might make it better, but I've never bothered and my rice tastes as good as any I've had in bibimbap. Lazy people can definitely skip this step - just throw rice in the rice cooker, either 1.5 or 2 time the water, turn it to cook and come back when it's done.

Rice cookers can also be gotten for less than $100 if all you want is a plain one (no timers or seals that keep rice warm at breakfast -- like most Anglos, I dont eat rice for breakfast). An Asian cookware store or the Internet will do.
posted by jb at 7:06 PM on June 11, 2012

I just returned from my local Asian supermarket/theme park Ujimaya with a bag of Nishiki rice. I'll probably give it a whirl in my rice cooker tomorrow, after rinsing, and will report back! I'm also eager to try phunniemee's Persian method, but that may have to wait for the weekend.
posted by lunasol at 8:11 PM on June 11, 2012

I know the question's already been answered, but you can never go wrong with Just Hungry's method of making Japanese rice:

It took me about 2 or 3 times to get it right (I have an electric oven, blah), but now I've perfected it and I'm always happy with my rice.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 11:58 PM on June 11, 2012

I find that if you're making a very small amount of rice then you need more water. I use 5:2 water:rice when I start with a quarter of a cup of uncooked rice, but 2:1 when I start with half a cup. That said, I've also found that rice happiness comes from careful experimentation with measuring cups.
posted by anaelith at 5:25 AM on June 12, 2012

Ah, you have a rice cooker! This means you have the means to conduct controlled experiments with successive batches. Too dry or hard? Probably wants more water, may want a longer time or a soak before cooking. Too mushy? Less water. And so on.
posted by thatdawnperson at 5:41 PM on June 12, 2012

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