How to steam rice, all the tricks

The best friend of a Thai green curry is this steamed rice you can grab with your fingers. The steamed rice has another texture and also a different flavor. You should try it.

Steamed rice exists in most Asian cuisines. The Japanese and Thai techniques are similar, and the differences is mostly that in Thailand it tends to be served with a dish in sauce, and by itself in Japan.

It is VERY different from the “standard” Asian white rice, side for most meals or to make sushi. For this, read this (click on text) :
Perfect Japanese rice in your cast iron pot

Tools :

This time I have used a Chinese bamboo steamer and a Japanese rice net.

You can use any type of basket, with or without lid. That works better if you place the rice in thin layers, so it’s better to have a wide basket than a deep one, or to superpose several.
If the basket has holes that let the grains of rice go through, you need a net cloth or a cheese close to retain it. Wet the cloth before using it.
If your basket cannot be used on top of a pan, use a big pan, or a slow-cooker, or a rice cooker. Line the bottom with a cloth or kitchen paper, and place a turned down saucer. Place the basket(s) on that stand. Add water in the bottom. Put the lid on the big pan.
Did you know? The bamboo steamers are great as the design of the lid makes that when the steam turns into water, it never drops down on the food and showers your steamed food (this is not a big problem for rice, but that can mess the appearance of your steamed dim sum). But grand-ma that was not impressed by Chinese technology would have told you that you can avoid the problem without investing in a steamer. Wrap the lid in a cloth/net, the fabric will absorb and take away the water.

Type of rice :

That should be a sticky rice from any country. Sticky and non-sticky rice are different varietals. Japanese mochigome is a sticky rice. I have used this.
You can cook other types of rice with this technique. That works, but you won’t get the same effect of grains sticking together.

Prepare the rice IN ADVANCE :

-In a bowl “wash” it with water. “Brush” the rice between your hands. Use lukewarm water if you don’t like it cold, but don’t skip that step. Change the water when it becomes very white. Do it again 1 to 3 times till you get a clear water. Drain.
-Cover your rice with hot or cold water and let it at least 2 hours in case of hot water, and 6 hours otherwise. Long soaking is compulsory, otherwise it will take forever to cook.

Steam :

-Drain the soaked rice, transfer it to the basket. Put to steam.
-You can open and pour a cup of hot water on the rice a few times while it’s steaming. That’s not really necessary, that only speeds up things a little. But as you need to maintain water in the bottom, that’s a way to do it.
-That will take precisely … a certain time. 20 minutes is a minimum, it’s if your rice is well soaked, not in too big amount in the basket. Otherwise be patient.

Variations :
Some ingredients (pandan leaves, etc) can added to the rice to bring flavor while steaming.
Also, you can find many types garnished “okowa” in Japan. For instance, sekihan (with red azuki), kurihan with chestnut, with edamame (green soya bean), with mushrooms, etc.

The cooked rice is sticky, slightly transparent and it has an al-dente feeling under the tooth. And the flavor is encanting.

I ate it with a fish head green curry, garnished with sliced renkon (lotus roots), red paprika and cubes of konnyaku.

7 thoughts on “How to steam rice, all the tricks

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  6. Hi,

    Thank you for this post. I was wondering if japanese glutinous rice can be cook like thai sticky rice and you just answer my question! 🙂

    Cass

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