Out of the Frying Pan into the Ire
December 17, 2007 2:51 AM   Subscribe

What's the sticky glutinous gunk I get on the bottom of the pan when I try to fry rice?

Here's how I make it:

Day 1: Make rice (Basmati, if it matters).
Day 2: Attempt to fry rice on medium-high heat with scads of sunflower oil. Gunk results.

Is there a name for it? How do I avoid making it? Alternatively, are there some recipes that thrive on the stuff? I've heard that some cultures use it to good effect, particularly when the gunk fries up into a delicious crispy chip-like substance which I can't, however, scrape off the bottom of my pan without ruining the pan.

Help me graduate from Cooking for Idiot Dads 101!
posted by YamwotIam to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The white gunk is starch. To get less of it you should always properly soak and rinse your rice before you boil it.

There is probably more to it but boiling rice is hard so concentrate on getting that part right first.
posted by uandt at 3:10 AM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

As uandt says, oak and rinse is important. Another thing that helps immensely is to fry with cold rice. Put the rice in the fridge for an hour or so after cooking. Break it all apart before tossing in the fry pan.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 3:18 AM on December 17, 2007

Yeah, you have to chill the rice to fry it. If you fry it hot, it turns to goo.
posted by Malor at 3:33 AM on December 17, 2007

If you don't have time to chill it, rinsing the rice after cooking will also reduce the starch.
posted by happyturtle at 3:36 AM on December 17, 2007

Response by poster: Hmm, looks like rinsing the rice all to hell before boiling is the secret. Don't know if I can piggyback on my own question, but how do I know when I've rinsed it enough?

Oh, and just to be clear about my post, I'm the idiot Dad. I'm cooking for my son. My father isn't an idiot.
posted by YamwotIam at 3:42 AM on December 17, 2007

When rinsing, you want the water to get gradually clearer with each rinse. I just continue until I can't get it any noticably clearer.
posted by shinynewnick at 3:48 AM on December 17, 2007

Chilling matters more than rinsing. The husk of the rice opens while hot, and the oil gets in and turns the rice to goo before it fries. If you chill, it will reduce the gooing much more than rinsing.

Ideally, do both.
posted by Malor at 3:49 AM on December 17, 2007

Response by poster: Hmm. I'm just puzzled because I'm getting this result with chilled, day-old rice.
posted by YamwotIam at 3:51 AM on December 17, 2007

Maybe try less oil. And make sure the rice is well drained. If it is there is too much water in it, it will definitely get sticky like that.

If you want non-fried rice, the best thing you can do is buy a rice cooker. Every Asian family has one. You just put the rice in, add water, turn it on, and wait until it clicks (about 30 min). Too easy, and very delicious if you use good rice.

The next day, you can fry the rice you made in the rice cooker, and there will be very little chance of it getting sticky, especially if it's been in the fridge and you don't use too much oil.
posted by strangeguitars at 3:54 AM on December 17, 2007

Didn't preview. Looks like your problem is the scads of sunflower oil.
posted by strangeguitars at 3:56 AM on December 17, 2007

I agree you probably don't want scads of sunflower oil. Just coat the pan. I've never used sunflower oil, just veg oil so maybe that matters as well? Also, is the oil hot before you put the rice in? My usual MO is to add the rice after all the other ingredients are cooked.

I've had success with basmati so I don't think that matters. As for rinsing, I usually put the rice in a sieve and run a tap through it for about a minute or two.
posted by like_neon at 5:03 AM on December 17, 2007

Best answer: It's not fried rice, but the crust left on the bottom of the pan when cooking rice Persian style is prized as a delicacy. It takes a little more effort than most methods, but it does make for fabulous rice.
posted by tallus at 5:15 AM on December 17, 2007

Best answer: Basmati, in my experience, is more delicate that your typical long grain rice. Not sure what the problem is here, but when I make rice (and if I have the time), I soak the grains for 20 minutes, then rinse and drain about 4 times or until the runoff water goes clear.

I use a rice cooker, which gives consistently good results. I would imagine your problem is starch though.
posted by ReiToei at 5:43 AM on December 17, 2007

Another method (south Asian) is to saute the rice in some hot fat (butter, ghee or oil) as the first step when cooking, before you add water. Stir it around to ensure each grain is coated. This seals the husk and the grains are always separate and delicious. For fried rice I always use rice that's been refrigerated at least two hours after cooking it this way, and fry with only a dash each of groundnut and sesame oils and it always turns out perfectly.
posted by goo at 6:08 AM on December 17, 2007

Also make sure you aren't using too much rice to be able to toss correctly.
posted by that girl at 6:13 AM on December 17, 2007

Rinsing your rice until the water runs clear before you cook it can help, but the best fried rice is made from day-old rice. It's had some time to firm up and chill. If you don't have day-old rice, make sure you rinse your rice before you boil it and that you bring it down to at least room temperature before you fry.
posted by sid at 6:19 AM on December 17, 2007

Best answer: Basmati rice is particularly high in starch as far as rice goes. If you don't want that, use a different kind of rice. I've had pretty good results with jasmine rice.

If you want to develop the crust, use a cast iron pan to fry it in. You shouldn't be burning the rice to the bottom of the pan, but with a cast iron pan, you can really scrape at the brown crispy bits with metal utensils.
posted by Caviar at 6:57 AM on December 17, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks, all--tallus, the tadiq link in particular is a gem.
posted by YamwotIam at 9:30 AM on December 17, 2007

Rinse first, as noted.

Do not stir the rice once it's in the pot. Not even a little. Not a quarter turn

Make sure all the moisture gets absorbed into the grains. Surface moisture is the enemy. Leaving it in the pan, covered, for 15 minutes or so after it finishes cooking will significantly reduce starchiness. You'll know you've done well when you can easily lift out every single grain of rice from the pan without leaving behind any film or a single rice particle.

Chilling? Huh. My asian cooking cooks stress dryness, not temperature. Leave the cooked rice out on the counter. When it's bone dry and unbearably chewy (1-2 days), it's PERFECT for frying. (If you're in a rush, spread it out on a cookie sheet and freeze.

Warm the frying pan to cooking temp, THEN add oil. Westerners tend to add oil to a cold pan, then heat both together. When you add the rice, if you hear one or two popping sounds, smile. Your rice is going to be deliciously non-gloppy.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:04 PM on December 17, 2007

...cooking books...
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:05 PM on December 17, 2007

Response by poster: Gracias ncm. I didn't know about the no-stirring part. Who knew rice was so finicky?
posted by YamwotIam at 6:26 PM on December 17, 2007

Well, luckily rice is not as finicky as it perhaps sounds. It just depends on what you're aiming to accomplish. More liquid + stirring gets you well on the road to a nice rice pudding...
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 9:17 PM on December 17, 2007

I would recommend using a rice other than basmati as it tends to be more delicate than other grains. I have found jasmine works well. Other commenters have mentioned this, but washing the rice will help... I usually fill a bowl of water, swish it around for a while and repeat 3-4 times.

Try using day-old rice that has been in the fridge, you may get better results and don't put too much oil in.

To get the chip-like substance off, leave the burner on low. It should get dry and become easier to peel off and/or the edges will rise a bit. Hope it helps!
posted by perpetualstroll at 12:04 AM on December 18, 2007

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