Editor's note: I remember that sensei's write-up was originally a polite reply to a write-up advising the use of rice cookers. The original write-up seems to be long-gone and the first part of sensei's write-up is now somewhat non-sequitur.
Rice cookers are indeed wonderful, especially if you are making large quantities. Most of them also have "keep warm" settings that will keep the rice at a good temperature for four or six hours. This can be very convenient if you have a household of people with different schedules who want to eat at different times.

However, if you want to develop a nice crispy crust on the bottom of the pot to make Fan Nung: Sizzling Rice, it is best to use a pot and a stove. Or simply scrape it up and salt it or roll it in gomasio and have it with saké or biru (beer).

Whether for a rice cooker or a stove-top, the most sucessful proportions are 1 1/4 cups of water to 1 cup of rice.

Sushi rice is moistened by slowly adding su (rice vinegar) to cooked rice and fanning it, so please don't use too much water.

You lifted the lid! You lifted the lid! Ack! Ack!

Seriously, even if you know How To Cook Rice, bad things happen. Some very very bad things. Ruining rice might not be anywhere near the worst of these very bad things but it can still make you unhappy. I want you to be happy so here are a few things that might work.

Problem: The rice is still very chewy or hard in the middle after the allotted time.
Solution: Add just enough water to create a little steam, 1/4 cup or less. Put the lid on and cook the rice on very low heat for another 5 minutes.

Problem: The rice is cooked but too wet.
Solution: Uncover the pot and cook over low heat to evaporate the water. Or gently turn the rice out onto a baking sheet and dry it in a low oven.

Problem: The grains are split and the rice is mushy.
Solution: Use the rice for congee or rice pudding and start over if you have the time. If not, give them congee instead.

Problem: The bottom layer of rice has burned.
Solution: Run cold water over the outside of the pot's bottom to keep the burnt flavour from permeating the rest of the rice (don't add water to the rice itself).Tip out as much rice as you can salvage.

At the risk of speaking in the presence of experts, I shall explain how I cook sticky rice (which is what I imagine goes with Chinese food, based on what I have read). Please note that I am from the wrong side of Asia (which is a pretty big place), and treat these instructions accordingly.

Preparing rice without a rice cooker

The only thing you'll need is a small pot with a tightly fitting lid. Wash 1-2 cups of rice in the pot, as in DMan's writeup above. When you're done, drain the rice again, then fill with water above 2 cm (nearly 1 inch) above the level of the rice.

Heat to boiling over medium heat. Keep boiling over this heat; you might need to reduce heat a bit if it threatens to spill over the top, but when that happens I usually just skim off the top with a metal spoon, which returns things to normal. After a few minutes, nearly all the water will be gone, and you'll actually be able to see "holes" in the rice. Immediately cover the pot and reduce heat to a minimum. Cook, keeping pot tightly closed, for 10 minutes, then remove from heat and leave to stand (still tightly closed!) for another 10 minutes.

You might want to fluff up the rice a bit with a fork before serving.



The original (excellent) writeup was DMan's, and explained how to cook rice using a rice cooker. It has unfortunately vanished; Saige and I both refer to it in our text.

The traditional method for measuring water for rice is to flatten the rice in a bowl or pot, place your hand on top and pour until the water reaches your third knuckle on your middle finger. This method works for any amount of rice and you needn't bother with measuring cups. It works for both rice cooker and pot.

note: Sticky rice is a seperate dish unto itself in Chinese cuisine, it has meat and vegetables cooked with it. It's not served plain. Long grain white rice is what you would eat with your meal.

It’s so good. But when it’s too wet, white rice turns gummy, brown rice explodes and turns into mush. I prefer the grains to be thoroughly cooked but distinct unless deliberately aiming for a stickier rice.

I liked the idea of placing one’s hand on top of the rice and pouring in water until it reached the knuckle of the middle finger. But when I tried it, it didn’t work and I theorized at the time that either my hands were too small or my pot was too big. So I use a measuring cup and measure exactly one and one-quarter cups of water for each cup of grain.

After washing grain, I tip it into a mesh colander, let it drain for a few minutes and then shake it a bit to eliminate any extra water the rice is retaining. I put a measuring cup under a colander of washed rice once. In the space of a couple of minutes it yielded an extra (unwanted) half cup of water.That can make a big difference.

In a rice cooker, you can add the rice, the water, and a little salt at the same time, swirl it to submerge all of the rice, flip the switch and ignore it. The instructions that come with some rice cookers advise against cooking heavier grains in them, but I use mine to cook white and brown rice, kamut, spelt, barley, wild rice or combinations of all of the above and they always come out well. When I cook more than five cups of these, I add a smidgen more water (maybe two to three tablespoons per cup.) Porous grains such as white rice take 30 to 40 minutes in my rice cooker; brown rice and larger grains take the best part of an hour.

When I cook grain on the stove, I use a heavy pot, bring the water to a boil first (with a little salt added) and don’t let myself walk away from the stove while the water is coming to a boil because once it begins to boil, the water evaporates very quickly. The moment it boils, I add the washed rice and just swirl it in the pot - enough to make sure that it is covered by the water, rather than stirring it. Then I cover it with a lid, reduce the heat to minimum and leave it alone. It takes about 25 minutes to cook white rice on a stove, 40 to 50 for brown.

To make crispy rice, I leave "pot rice" on the burner for an extra 15 to 20 minutes. With white rice, and the right timing, a lacy, delicate, chewy crust forms on the bottom of the pot that will break into pieces easily.

I recently made this incredibly lame attempt at creating some rice'y food product. Let me share with you what you really, really shouldn't do when trying to cook rice:

1. Don't read the instructions on the package, no, really don't read them. I don't mean just skim them over and move along, don't even *look* at them, you know what you're doing, it doesn't matter!

2. Turn the wrong burner on, and don't realize it until the rice has been soaking in lukewarm water for 20 minutes. This does wonders for it, really! (I realize it may be difficult to be that absent-minded, but just be noding at the same time and it will be much easier.)

3. Be sure to repeatedly take the lid off as it cooks, just to check on it, make sure it's doing alright. Woo, look at all that steam!

Never, ever do those things when you're cooking your rice. Trust me, it really doesn't work well, and leaves you with quite the interesting end product, though it's not too entirely appealing.. or edible.
Another idea for rice which is not up to standards: Rice Pie

If your rice is too wet or even too crunchy, burnt or otherwise not usable as run-of-the-mill side dish, then take the gunk, lump, pile, etc. of rice product, season it fairly heavily (naturally in fitting with your meal) and then dump it all in a pan with already hot oil.

Treat the mass now like a pancake batter. Let the underside brown very lightly. By this time, your rice pie should hold together. When it's ready, flip the whole thing at once and brown the other side. Each time you flip, you should mash all the rice to perfectly fit the pan. Keep flipping until both sides are nicely (lightly) evenly browned and you are fairly sure that the middle is also lightly cooked, then flip it onto a plate.

To garnish, sprinkle basil, cayenne pepper, powdered sugar, whatever, based on your ealier seasonings and your meal in general.

Makes for an interesting side-dish, though it doesn't help much if something was supposed to go on top of the rice. But it's definitely a way to salvage a mistake (not, of course, that I've ever done that myself).

Happy Eating! -fb

The secret to cooking the perfect pot of japanese rice is washing it, and cooking it the perfect amount of time.

To wash the rice, just rinse it in the pot your going to cook it in...

  1. strain the water.
  2. knead the rice until water is a cloudy white.
  3. repeat, until water is almost but not perfectly clear.

To cook the rice...

  1. Strain the rice.
  2. Place rice in pot again.
  3. Fill pot with water up to the same level as the rice.
  4. Close lid.
  5. Cook rice until all but a tiny coat of water is on the bottom, or else rice will begin to burn.


WARNING: Be careful when keeping rice warm. One of the commonest causes of food poisoning (actually THE commonest according to the food hygiene course I did) is rice kept warm in restaurants .

Warm rice provides the perfect environment for staphlococus, a nasty little bug that lives in the grooves in your fingerprints (and just about everywhere else). Fortunately it's not as serious as listeria or salmonella; normal symptoms are 24 hour D+V.

The problem is more severe in catering environments because food is more likely to have been handled by more people and because of the larger quantites involved. Leaving rice around your kitchen for a couple of days and then eating it is a bad idea though, unless you want to get intimately accquainted with your toilet.

This has been an Everything Public Service Announcement brought to you by PaulM.

See also Bacillus cereus for more detailed info on a bacteria behind rice based food poisoning.

Ok. Ultra yummy Pilau rice thingy. You will need.

(Serves 4)

2 cups of Basmati Rice
4 1/2 cups of Water
Knob of ghee (or butter)
1 large Bay leaf
8 cardamom pods
8 cloves
1 piece of cassia bark (optional)
1 tsp of salt
2 tsp of turmeric powder

Wash the rice until the water runs more or less clear. Now, get yourself a large heavy pan (so that it will be about half full when we put the rice and water in it), and melt the ghee or butter over a low heat (be careful not to burn the butter). Now, throw in everything except the rice and the water. Stir this little mixture, making sure that all the turmeric powder is mixed into the butter. Let it sizzle very gently for about a minute. Now chuck in the rice, and stir enthusiastically until the rice is very well coated with the butter (it should all go kind of orange from the turmeric). Pour in the water, turn up the heat, place the lid on the pan and leave to cook for about 15 minutes or so. The rice is done once all the water has been absorbed (but don't take the lid off the check too often, and don't stir). When the rice is done, remove from the heat and leave to stand (with the lid still on) for 5-10 mins. Serve with some kind of Indian thing (or a Thai red curry, or something).

By the way, when you serve this you might want to remove the cardamom pods and the cloves, because they taste nasty if you eat them. At the very least you should warn your guests that something unpleasant is lurking in their food.

Ok, I don’t know who taught you all to cook rice, but this is how my mother taught me.

First you need to choose the right pot; it should be small enough so that rice will be spread evenly on the bottom.

Step 1
Pour a thin layer of cooking oil into the pot and heat the oil a bit. Next pour in 1 cup of rice and stir-fry it on the maximum flame until it darkens and gets a more brownish hue. (Note, if you will be seasoning your rice with anything like Paprika, Cinnamon, Knorr Cubes or whatever, do it now)

Step 2

Pour in 1 and ½ cups of water (or 1 and ¼ depending on how you like your rice) and wait for the water to boil.

Step 3

As the water starts boiling, let the flame down to a simmer and cover the pot. Wait for 20 minutes. (As stated above, if you open the lid or stir or something stupid like that, you will be eating something like refugee camp gruel and not rice.

Step 4

If after 20 minutes the rice isn’t ready wait for around 4 more minutes if it’s still wet after that… then well, you didn’t follow the instructions right.


This is the secret of rice, told to me on a dark wintry night by a young Japanese lady. This revolutionised my cooking (which, admittedly, does mostly consist of rice-based dishes), and it can and will do the same for you, fellow eater!

This works best on a gas hob, where the temperature can be quickly and easily adjusted, but one may also use an electric hob if one is so handicapped. In this case, it is best to use two hob plates set to the required temperature, as electric hob plates take time to cool down and will belittle one’s humble efforts to make perfect rice.

Take one pan of indeterminate volume, and add dried rice in the normal manner (i.e. with a cup, glass, hands, catapult, Archimedes Screw, whatever. Just get the rice into the freakin pan) and add the same amount of cold, cold water. This will look like too little water. But it is not! Do not add any more water, or your rice will be poor, like a rice-based pudding, and people will have contempt for you!

Next, put the rice on a very hot thing until it begins to boil. But be vigilant! As soon as the water begins to boil you must do two things as quickly as possible! You must first seal the pan completely, so none of the lovely, fluffy steam escapes and carries off all the rice-magic. You should use a plate, or even the pan lid. But you must take care! Many pan lids do not fit well, or have holes designed to let the steam out. These are things of the Devil, and must be watched for. Secondly, you must transfer the pan to a low heat. Use the lowest heat your hob is capable of. This will seem foolish, but you must trust me! For as yet you do not know the secret of rice, and I must be your guide. Leave the pan on this heat for fifteen minutes exactly, to the second! And remember, you must not unseal the pan........

When fifteen minutes exactly has passed, you must remove the pan from the low heat and put it on.........no heat at all! This is the secret of perfect rice, but you must leave the pan sealed for a further ten minutes to achieve it. If at any time during this process you are foolish enough to unseal the pan, the gods will laugh at you and your rice will be poor.

After this final stage of waiting has elapsed, you may unseal the pan and gaze with happy wonder at the perfectly cooked rice that you have brought into being. Gasp at the perfect light, fluffy tumescence of each grain, and giggle at the absence of any superfluous water to be arduously drained. You have triumphed over the forces of nature, my worthy friend, and have cooked perfect rice!

Have you eaten (rice) yet?

Plenty of instruction here on how to cook perfect, tender plain rice. Mostly for medium or long grain rice, so I'll just slip in some more information here. Regardless of whether you wash and then drain the rice, the proportions remain the same. See Grain Recipes for recipes which are more involved sides or are dishes in and of themselves, rather than a staple. Keep in mind, some rice will never run clear no matter how much you wash it. Black rice comes to mind. Also, nutrient added rice is not intended to be rinsed as the vitamins are added as a dust. If it's enriched or fortified, it's likely meant not to be washed.

Soaking rice in cold water prior to cooking it is never a bad idea. It really does help it cook more evenly. Also, some recipes strongly recommend or even require it.

Polished long grain which includes Basmati rice, Jasmine Rice, etc. and medium grain rice.: 2c. water for the first cup of rice; 1.5c. water for each additional cup of rice.
Polished short grain which includes Arborio rice (for Risotto), Sushi Rice, glutinous rice or sticky rice, etc.: 1.5c. water for the first cup of rice; 1c. water for each additional cup of rice. Note, depending on which variety you purchase, your results will vary greatly. There's plenty of specific information over at sushi rice for that particular culinary staple. Risotto, of course, is not made with cooked rice. In Thai cooking coconut rice is made with pre-cooked sticky rice, which is a consideration if going that route. I always soak sticky rice for at least an hour prior to cooking it, ideally overnight.
Brown rice, black rice, red rice, etc. (ie. any rice with the bran intact), the same amount of water depending on if it's a long or short grained variety, plus an extra half cup and additional cooking time. The bran makes it more difficult for the rice to absorb liquid, so soaking it in advance is a good idea if you have the time.
If cooking a mixture of brown rice and white rice, start the brown rice first and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Then add the white rice and additional water, give a quick stir to combine, and start the process over again. When cooking brown rice in your rice cooker, cook it through one cycle and when it pops to "keep warm" add half a cup of water to the cooker (a bit more if it's very full) and cook for another cycle. It should be done by then.
Wild rice which isn't wild and isn't rice. It behaves more like brown rice because the bran is still intact. According to the box of wild rice sitting before me, it recommends 1.5c. water per third cup of wild rice and recommends 45-50min. for firmer rice, and 60-65min. for tender rice. Again, you could start wild rice, cook it until there's only about 20min. left to its cooking time and then add in raw white rice and water and let them cook together.

Persian rice is a staple about which a friend who's half Iranian has waxed most poetic. It's much more time consuming than the above and results in perfect, fluffy grains which are firm and then tenderly dissolve upon chewing. I present it here because not everyone eats their rice sticky (as in, sticking to itself, not as in glutinous rice), after all.

3 cups long grain white rice, basmati is the best readily available variety to use
1/2 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 quarts water
1 cup water

Several hours before, agitate and rinse the rice very well until water runs clear. Soak the rice in cold water for as much as overnight or as little as an hour. The longer, the better.

Bring 2 quarts of water and the salt to a boil and par-cook the rice uncovered and stirring frequently for about ten minutes. Drain the rice and rinse with warm water so it stops cooking and to wash away more starch.

Meanwhile, in a heavy bottomed pot with a close fitting lid, melt about half the butter.

Gently stir in the rice and mix it with the butter just to combine, adding any other flavoring agents (saffron for example) and the water at the same time. Scrape the rice into a mound and dot the top with the remaining butter.

Cover the pot with a clean towel and tightly cover with the lid. Tie the towel to the knob on the lid to prevent it from flopping down and catching on fire.

Punch the heat to high for just a minute to kick start it back up again, and then turn the burner down to low and cook for 25-30min. The bottom of the pot should form a crunchy, crispy, buttery layer of rice which folks will fight over, and the rest of the rice will be nutty, and perfectly loose and tender. Serve immediately, and turn the crust out on top so it stays crunchy.

Recipe adapted from this recipe and this fantastic article

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