Rice is a staple part of many people's diets around the world. It’s a versatile food that goes with pretty much anything.
However, rice is notoriously difficult to get right when cooking, and one of the most common queries is whether or not you should rinse the rice before or after the cooking process.
If you browse through the recipes in most cookbooks, they will often instruct you to rinse and soak your rice in water before cooking. So, let's see what the benefits are, or is it even necessary?
Benefits of Rinsing Rice Before Cooking
Rinsing rice before cooking removes its starchy coating and helps prevent sticking and clumping, and gives it a fresh and clean taste. Rinsing is recommended whether you use a rice cooker or boiling it on the stovetop.
Some people believe that washing rice before cooking will take away some of the nutrients - but this is a myth.
Rinsing, before you throw it in a pot of boiling water, will yield many benefits, such as:
- Washing away any excess starch.
- Provides a cleaner and fresher taste.
- Stops the rice from clumping together during cooking.
- Prevents the rice from smelling bad.
- Stops it from spoiling as quickly after cooking.
- Removing any debris or dirt from the rice making it healthier and more pleasant to consume.
To rinse the rice, you should use cold water and keep rinsing until the water runs almost clear. It is important to remember that you will not be able to get the water perfectly clear, and trying to do so will be a fruitless venture.
You could also use your hands to rub the grains as a way of removing more starch.
But What About Rinsing After Cooking?
For certain long-grain varieties, such as basmati and white rice, rinsing after cooking can get rid of the starch. It can be very beneficial if you are looking to create rice that does not stick or clump together on the plate.
That being said, if you have rinsed the rice well enough before cooking, you shouldn't need to rinse it again after - but there is no harm in doing so if you wish.
If you are rinsing rice after cooking, it is preferable to use freshly boiled water to avoid drastically bringing down the temperature of the rice.
Pre-Soaking Before Cooking
Some varieties of rice require soaking before you cook them.
The most common types of rice which should go through a soaking first are:
- Wild Rice
- Glutinous Rice
- Wild Pecan
- Japanese Short Grain Rice
- Other Aromatic Varieties
The reason for this is that soaking begins to hydrate the grains before the cooking process begins. As rice is cooked, it becomes more hydrated, however since this is done under intense heat, some of the flavor and fluffy texture of the grains may be lost.
With the rice listed above, generally taking longer to cook, soaking them beforehand will ensure that the flavor and fluffy texture remains at its best.
When soaking rice prior to cooking, you will get the best results by doing so overnight, but if time doesn't allow for this, you can soak for half an hour to gain decent results.
Which Types of Rice Don’t Need Soaking or Rinsing?
There are times when soaking or rinsing your rice will take away from the dish that you are trying to create. Let's take risotto for example, this creamy dish requires the rice to have a high level of starch - this creates the creamy texture we associate with the dish.
When you cook risotto, you will often use arborio or carnaroli rice, which is a short grain with an oval shape - very easily distinguished from other types of rice.
Carnaroli and arborio rice are naturally much higher in starch than the types of rice that we have already discussed, explaining why it is used for this purpose.
If you wash or soak arborio rice before cooking, you will be rinsing away the important starch that gives risotto its signature texture.
The same can be said when you are cooking a dish such as paella or sushi. Both of these meals once again require a creamier texture that can only be provided by rice that has retained its starch.
Jasmine rice does not need to be soaked if you are aiming to create sticky rice.
So, Is All That Preparation Really Necessary?
No, it is not absolutely necessary, and it also depends on the type of grain, recipe, or preference, really. But as I covered above, rinsing and soaking do have some benefits.
I know it may be a little bit of an inconvenience to soak or rinse your rice before you begin cooking. Some people may see it as an unnecessary extra step in the process.
However, by taking the time to rinse or soak your rice - depending on the type, you will be greatly rewarded when it comes to the final result.
Rinsing or soaking will allow you to create rice, which is much more flavorsome and has a better texture. Rice that is not washed or soaked tends to clump together, which can feel unpleasant during eating and not look great when served up at a dinner party.
A Few Handy Rice Cooking Tips
If you are looking to dish up perfect rice every time, there are a few tips that you can implement to guarantee a tasty, beautiful dish.
- Follow the rinsing and soaking suggestions above.
- Try adding a spoonful of olive oil to the water to further prevent sticking.
- Use a pot with a heavy bottom as this will prevent burning.
- Stir only once at the beginning with a wooden spoon to divide any clumps.
- Cook the rice in a lot of liquid; two cups of water to every cup of rice.
- Cook in a covered pot with a good lid.
- Once it starts to boil, let the rice simmer on low heat for about 15-20 minutes. Then remove the lid and allow it to steam for another 5 minutes. (Allow about 45 min for brown rice to become tender).
- Instead of water, consider cooking your rice in a broth instead. That will give it a boost of flavor.
Cooking rice can sometimes be a challenge, but one of the best ways to ensure excellent results every time is to rinse or soak the grains before cooking - and if you wish, afterward too.
This will remove the starch from the grains and produce fluffier, tastier rice that does not stick together.
Different types of rice require different treatments, and there are some cases in which you should not rinse or soak the rice, such as when you are cooking risotto or make sushi.