But, I want the bad rice!
July 26, 2012 7:57 AM   Subscribe

How are the rice clumps formed in Chinese take-out rice? They are my favorite part, but I can't figure out how this phenomenon occurs, let alone how to replicate it.

So, sometimes when I get Chinese take-out , there will be 1 or 2 clumps of rice material amongst the regular grains. These clumps do not have any grain structure at all, and seem almost like gobs of rice starch. The texture is chewy, and I find them delicious.

How do I make this on my own? Is there a specific type of rice or technique that I can use to get somewhat close? I don't even know how to properly describe this, so maybe I am Googling the wrong terms. I'm fairly certain that these are anomalies, and not the fluffy well-separated grains of rice that people like, so that makes it more difficult.

This is NOT sticky rice, or sushi rice or anything like that. I have only seen these in Chinese food, never Thai or Japanese.
posted by Fig to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I use short-grain rice to get it clumpy like that. And don't rinse it before you cook it or anything.
posted by pyjammy at 7:58 AM on July 26, 2012

you might like Mochi.
posted by royalsong at 7:59 AM on July 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

You might also try cooking it in a rice cooker. It's a low and slow method and really brings out the rice's starchiness.

If you like that texture, for sure try Mochi.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:02 AM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you use a rice cooker, also add a little extra water when cooking the rice.
posted by procrastination at 8:04 AM on July 26, 2012

Making rice with too much water and then letting it sit around in the rice cooker too long - so, in other words, making rice badly - yielded clumpy rice like that for me.
posted by needled at 8:04 AM on July 26, 2012 [3 favorites]

How do you feel about Congee?

This may be either a phenomenon where you try to 'revitalize' rice with some water and tossing it back into the rice cooker (it comes out way mushier), or something where rice gets crushed and forms rice flour.
posted by Comrade_robot at 8:05 AM on July 26, 2012

fluffy rice is this gross thing invented by North Americans. Proper rice should clump naturally and have lots of lovely sticky starch.

Buy proper East Asian rice - doesn't matter if its Chinese, Korean or Japanese. Cook with lots of water (I do 2-to-1 water-to-rice) preferably in a rice cooker. It won't be sushi-like unless you add sugar and vinegar and stuff. If you leave it in the rice cooker on "keep warm", you also get lovely browned bits -- I have a Iranian friend who said that was always his family's favorite bits.
posted by jb at 8:18 AM on July 26, 2012

you might be referring to sticky (glutinous) rice, either solo or mixed in with regular rice. Uncooked sticky rice grains are fatter and a brighter white than regular long grain rice. You can mix a minority of sticky rice with long grain, or just cook sticky rice by itself.

Either is best cooked in a rice cooker, and sticky rice is best cooked in the steamer of your rice cooker, wrapped in a net.
posted by grubby at 8:20 AM on July 26, 2012

2nding jb - American rice is awful. Get a good Thai rice or Vietnamese if you can find it. You may need to go to an Asian specialty shop.
posted by grubby at 8:21 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

We recently had several chinese cookery ephipanys in my household after watching Gok Wan's cooking show on Channel 4 in the UK. Here is a recipe that includes his foolproof rice cooking method.

I always thought the idea was not to bother rice but Gok's method includes lots of rinsing to get the starch out. You want to follow the guidance about about the water level too as theres a reason for that (he mentioned it in the tv programme but doesnt expand in this write up and I've forgotten why, sorry) He also says that when frying rice, use day old rice thats been in the fridge overnight.

Every dish we've tried from his book so far has caused us to say 'wow, its like we ordered takeaway'.
posted by Ness at 8:44 AM on July 26, 2012

You want to "break" the rice so that it gets all clumpy like that. Cook it in a rice cooker with a little more water than usual and then stir the rice a lot after the button pops up. The stuff at a restaurant is sitting in a giant rice cooker and getting shifted around a lot.

Also, don't rinse your rice beforehand as much. You want all the starches to stay intact.
posted by hooray at 8:45 AM on July 26, 2012

Try Jasmine rice and rinse the rice. I know many people say not to, I do. More water makes mushier rice. If you don't use a rice cooker, turn off the flame when the rice is almost done and let the rice sit without opening the cover for a few minutes. Enjoy!!
posted by Yellow at 8:59 AM on July 26, 2012

It's not the rice, its the way it was cooked.

Adding too much water is going to make it mushy. As stated before, it's most likely sat too long in a rice cooker on 'keep warm'.
posted by wongcorgi at 9:23 AM on July 26, 2012

Also Chinese restaurants use long grain rice.
posted by wongcorgi at 9:23 AM on July 26, 2012

To answer some questions .. The only mochi I've had are the ice-cream-filled ones, which are extremely difficult to eat with sensitive teeth. I think I would like them in a savory and warm prep though, so I will definitely try! It is not quite the texture I'm looking for here -- this is really oddly specific. Same goes for congee -- I like it, but not what I'm searching for.

I do use a rice cooker, albeit a cheapo one. I've tried adding more water, but it all ends up just mushy.

I will do some experimentation this weekend -- different rices, different amounts of water, stirring, etc etc. I think that leaving it in the warmer for a really, really really long time (hours?) and stirring it to break up the grains every now and then is moving in the right direction. If I come across any revelations, I will certainly post back here.

These are really good ideas, thanks all!
posted by Fig at 10:16 AM on July 26, 2012

Aside: the Persian word for those "brown bits" is tahdig, which means "bottom of the pot," and it is the very best part of eating rice.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 10:17 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Side note: If you have a Trader Joe's near you, you'll probably love their yaki onigiri/Baked Rice Snacks. Semi-crunchy outside, inside is the sticky gluey lovely rice you speak of.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 10:49 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Aside: the Persian word for those "brown bits" is tahdig, which means "bottom of the pot," and it is the very best part of eating rice.
In Chinese it's 锅巴 guoba 'pot crust' and is likewise a thing all of its own.
posted by Abiezer at 12:27 PM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

Seconding needled, it's rice that has been in the warmer too long. After your rice cooker finishes cooking the rice, keep it in the pot (on the warmer setting is best) for a while.

I don't agree that putting more water would help you. As you said, it will make your rice go mushy.

The ice cream filled mochi is softer than normal mochi. It is called gyuhi in Japan. Normal mochi becomes hard when it gets cold.
posted by xmts at 9:55 PM on July 26, 2012

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