Monday, May 24, 2010

Sticky rice

My youngest daughter is a big fan of rice, regularly returning to the stove to scoop out seconds and thirds. (Although she has recently confessed ... shhhhhh ... that she likes noodles even more!) She had nothing but basmati for most of her existence, but has really come to love sticky rice. This is the kind of rice you want to serve if you're planning to eat with chopsticks, since it holds together more than the loose, fluffy pilaf types; and of course, if your kid keeps asking for it.

Here is the brand I get. It seems to be pretty common these days. I've seen it in Bloblaws and Metro for about 9 bucks a bag.

Here's what they look like inside. Nice little fatties, all polished up!
I took my recipe from Washoku (so far I've ONLY cooked the rice out of this book. Most of Japanese cooking strikes me as kind of Mr. Spock food -- I like it, but cooking it is another story).

The big thing with sticky rice is that you have to wash it. A lot. If you don't you'll get stuck rice, which is completely different. This takes several minutes, and I honestly don't know how Japan copes with all those people washing all that rice. I guess it does rain a lot there, but still.

I usually do the washing in the cooking pot. Start by filling it up and swirling the water around. It's pretty dusty as you can see.

For the first couple of pours, I just empty the pot slowly in the sink.

Eventually, I get a strainer under there, and I keep filling the pot, gradually allowing a little of the rice to fall into the strainer each time. After 5 to 10 pots full of water, the stuff is pretty clean.

Then I let it sit in the strainer for a while over the pot to let the last of the water drain out.

Once the rice has drained completely, it goes into the pot with the right amount of water and it can sit like this for around 30 mins while you do something else (like get, say, your chicken legs cooked). Washoku recommends the following amounts of water and rice: 1 cup rice & 1 cup plus 2 tbsp water; 2 cups rice & 2 1/3 cups of water; 3 cups rice & 3 1/4 cups of water. (There a couple of other measures in there, but you get the idea -- I can only vouch for the 1 and 2 cups of rice quantities, as that's all i've tried.)

Cooking the rice takes 20 minutes. There is a Japanese song that goes with the process. The translation is: at first it bubbles, then it hisses; even if the baby is crying from hunger, never remove the lid. Well! You get the idea that the lid stays on. Here's the drill. 20 mins before you're going to eat, put the rice and water on the stove (with the lid on!) Turn the element to max and set a timer for 5 minutes. As soon as 5 mins are up (you will here the "bubbles" at this point), turn the element to min and set the timer for another 5 minutes. Once those 5 mins are done, turn the heat to max again for about 45 seconds (this is the hisses!). Once the 45 seconds are up, get the pot off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes. (This is how it goes on an electric stove -- gas is probably a completely different set of times for bubbles and hisses so adjust accordingly!)

And., voila! Perfect sticky rice.

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