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Should You Wash Rice?

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Excerpted from Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann's "The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook" (Harvard Common Press, 2003):

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The general rule is to wash imported rices and not to wash domestic rices, which are well cleaned and dried before packaging. Imported rices have plenty of clinging starch left over from the processing.

Your cooked imported rice may be downright gluey if you don't wash it.

Many Asian cooks would never cook unwashed rice; washing is traditional.

Domestically produced Japanese-style rice may be coated with powdered glucose, talc or rice powder. It is safe to eat, but washing off the whitish powder will improve the flavor.

Indian basmati rice should be washed; recipes often call for washing it up to nine or 10 times.

Boxed and packaged rices usually need no washing or maybe just one rinse. Converted rice does not need washing.

Here's how to wash rice: Place the measured amount in a bowl of cold tap water and swish it around with your hand until the water becomes cloudy; the water will often be foamy around the edges. Tilt the bowl and carefully pour off the water, or pour through a mesh strainer. Rinse and return the rice to the bowl, if need be, and add more cold water. Repeat until the water is clear. Most imported rices need two washings, but each batch of rice will be different. Purists wash for minutes. You can dump the clump of wet, washed rice directly into the bowl of the rice cooker, or pre-wash and spread the wet rice out to dry on a clean tea towel until cooking time.


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