Cooking rice can be tricky. It’s easy to end up with a pot of mushy or crunchy grains that don’t look or taste appetizing. But did you know that rinsing your rice before cooking is an important step for achieving the perfect texture and flavor?
Rinsing not only removes dirt and starch but can also help separate the grains, which leads to better-tasting and fluffier rice.
Also, 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 of rinsing and soaking rice are, or is it even necessary?
Benefits of Rinsing Rice Before Cooking
Rinsing rice before cooking removes its starchy coating, helps prevent sticking and clumping, and gives it a fresh and clean taste. Rinsing is recommended whether you use a rice cooker or boil 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 the rice 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.
- It prevents the rice from striking the bottom of the rice cooker.
- It 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 and unnecessary.
You could also use your hands to rub the grains in a bowl of water as a way of removing more starch.
But What About Rinsing The Rice After Cooking?
For certain long-grain varieties, such as basmati and white rice, rinsing after cooking can help eliminate some excess 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 don’t need to rinse it again after cooking.
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, but the heat and extended cooking time can affect the flavor and fluffy texture of the grains.
With the rice listed above generally taking longer to cook, soaking them beforehand helps speed up the overall cooking time and can even improve the flavor and texture of the grains.
However, if you don’t have time to wait overnight for your rice to soak, you can still get great results by soaking it for at least half an hour beforehand.
Which Types of Rice Don’t Need Soaking or Rinsing?
Whether you’re making sticky sushi rice, paella, fried rice, risotto, or other types of recipes that require more sticky rice, knowing how long and how much to soak and rinse is essential for achieving great results.
Let’s take risotto, for example. The perfect risotto starts with selecting the right kind of rice. Arborio or Carnaroli are two types of short-grain rice that are preferred due to their high starch content. This creamy dish requires the rice to have a high level of starch – this creates the creamy texture associated with classic risotto dishes.
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 a must, and it also depends on the type of grain, recipe, or preference, really. But as we discussed above, rinsing and soaking do have some benefits.
When it comes to making the perfect rice dish, most people just skip the rinsing or soaking and be done with it. However, in my opinion, taking the time to properly rinse or soak your rice – depending on the type of rice you are using and the dish you are cooking – can make all the difference in the final result.
Rinsing or soaking will allow you to cook 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 prevent sticking further.
- 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 cooking risotto or making perfectly seasoned sushi rice.