Homebrewers Association | AHA Forum

Other than Brewing => All Things Food => Topic started by: bluefoxicy on November 05, 2010, 04:34:28 PM

Title: Can't steam rice properly
Post by: bluefoxicy on November 05, 2010, 04:34:28 PM
So I got all this California Sushi rice (the stuff people around here use to make Sake) and sticky thai rice and I have a bamboo steamer (http://www.wokshop.com/store/detail.php?show=118) for my Wok (http://www.wokshop.com/store/detail.php?show=47) and some cheese cloth.

No luck.

What I've tried doing is washing the rice in a gladware container (by the way, these don't seal; you press the lid down, shake, and water inside splatters everywhere), by filling the container with water and shaking vigorously.  After about 200 washings the water still isn't clear >:(

Then I soak it for between 4 and 12 hours in the fridge.

Then I put it on cheesecloth in the bamboo steamer, set the steamer on top a boiling wok, and leave for 30 minutes.  There's a lid on the steamer, yes.

It comes out grainy and not sticky, and not as soft as I'd expect!

Maybe I'm oversteaming.  Maybe I'm overwashing and need to buy a large strainer and just rinse with flowing water.  I don't know.  Gimme some help here.

http://www.ehow.com/how_4759787_make-rice-bamboo-steamer.html

I haven't tried this with the dish towel.  I'm not sure I have a dish towel.  In any case a dish towel is not anywhere near as big as they describe; it'd have to be a 33 inch diameter square.  Maybe larger.  Perhaps I should put cheesecloth on top the rice instead of just underneath?  Or wrap the rice in a ball of cheesecloth?  That would likely cause condensation and bring more moisture in.  The bamboo steamer lid seems to PREVENT condensation....
Title: Re: Can't steam rice properly
Post by: weithman5 on November 05, 2010, 04:47:39 PM
all i do is wash it in cold water (unless it has already been washed then i skip this step), put it in a pot cover with water and simmer until all the water is absorbed.  never fails.  is there something special about the california rice? i use this method for basmati (usually needs washed) and jasmine (don't usually wash)  basmati not sticky, and usually it shouldn't be, and the jasmine is.
Title: Re: Can't steam rice properly
Post by: nicneufeld on November 05, 2010, 04:58:43 PM
I had a sack of Korean sushi-style sticky rice and I agree with the above.  Plain old pan with water, follow the instructions, perfect sticky rice.  I will add some extra steps for basmati to make it even less sticky, but thats a different sort of thing anyway.
Title: Re: Can't steam rice properly
Post by: guitarbrew on November 05, 2010, 05:19:08 PM
You don't want to steam the rice like you steam vegetables.  Rather, use a similar method to the water in a pot method. 
Title: Re: Can't steam rice properly
Post by: bluefoxicy on November 05, 2010, 05:22:48 PM
I don't own a rice steamer, I don't own a microwave, I don't own a pot with a lid.  

See this happens to me a lot.  I'll ask "how do I prepare ____"  "That's actually easier to do in a (slow cooker|microwave|pot with a lid)."

Also

http://www.taylor-madeak.org/index.php/2008/02/29/how-to-make-sake-at-home-a-taylor-made-g?page=6

Quote

The preferred method of preparing rice for sake is steaming. This is because steamed rice, while fully gelatinized, doesn’t have the tendency to go mushy and gooey like normally cooked rice does. This means that clumps are a lot easier to break up, and your hands will thank you for that when it comes time to mix the rice into the moromi. If you don’t have a steamer, can’t concoct one, and couldn’t find one to buy, then cooking in a rice cooker or even simmering in a pot on the stove is acceptable - so don’t let not being able to steam your rice discourage you!

    Don’t use boiled or simmered rice for making koji! Boiling or simmering rice forces a lot more water into the rice than steaming does, which seriously compromises the rice grain’s ability to hold any kind of structure.
If you use this cooking method to prepare rice for making koji, the mold will reduce the rice to a slimy puddle of goo.
[/quote]

Emphasis mine.

That's roughly how I'm preparing the rice... by steaming in a vessel where the reserve of water is separate from the rice, rather than mixed with the rice.

http://www.finecooking.com/pdf/How-to-Cook-Rice-Chart.pdf

Hmm, this chart seems to recommend "rinsing and steaming" for sushi rice, rather than soaking... but everything I read says soak.  Also it differentiates between "simmering" and "steaming" but the instructions for "simmering/steaming" seem to portray these as the same task.

There is a reason this is hard and it's not because it's actually hard ~_~  simmer != steam, the fact that there's steam present doesn't mean that you are "steaming" the food.
Title: Re: Can't steam rice properly
Post by: nicneufeld on November 05, 2010, 05:30:17 PM
Ah, you're trying to make sake, then.  You might try posting this in the Other Fermentables forum instead of the Food one to avoid the confusion, or you might check the old NB forum to see if their sake forum has some more info.
Title: Re: Can't steam rice properly
Post by: guitarbrew on November 05, 2010, 05:36:14 PM
I said similar, BFI.  You already exposed that you have a WOK. 
Title: Re: Can't steam rice properly
Post by: bluefoxicy on November 05, 2010, 06:02:37 PM
I said similar, BFI.  You already exposed that you have a WOK.  

Oh right.

Still, I don't want to simmer the rice in a seasoned cast iron wok.  o.O  Among other things, how would I prepare dim sum or baozi and steamed vegetables at the same time?  (Yes I realize manipulating bamboo baskets full of steam is rough work-- I've done it quite a bit, and I don't use protection so I'm grabbing hot bamboo with hot steam and hot condensation all over the place with my bare hands.  Still, it can be done.)

I'm trying to figure out how to cook rice using a common, traditional method; unfortunately people are disinclined to answer the question and volunteer instructions for simmering rice instead of steaming it.  If I ask how to get the steak to cook just right rare on the grill, is someone going to tell me to pre-heat a cast iron pan and sear it for a minute and a half on each side and I'll have awesome, perfect steak?

EDIT:  Did I already mention that I also have a purpose-made rice steamer designed specifically to do this stuff?

(http://www.khiewchanta.com/images/thai-rice-steamer.jpg)
Title: Re: Can't steam rice properly
Post by: EHall on November 05, 2010, 06:16:27 PM
I think they keep telling you to do it in a pan cause thats pretty much the best, easier method....

http://www.shiokfood.com/notes/archives/000022.html

http://japanesefood.about.com/od/rice/r/steamedrice.htm

sticky rice must be soaked overnight or at least a couple of hours before being steamed or you'll end up with tough centers.

Maybe this is what you're looking for:
http://importfood.com/stickyrice.html

good luck
Title: Re: Can't steam rice properly
Post by: bluefoxicy on November 05, 2010, 06:48:40 PM
Maybe this is what you're looking for:
http://importfood.com/stickyrice.html

good luck

Yeah that's what I'm trying to do and it's not working.  It's supposed to work.  Obviously my method is correct but my implementation is horribly wrong somewhere; I'm doing the right thing but I'm doing it wrong.  Like skydiving and forgetting your parachute... yeah, you jump out of the plane, but you missed something.
Title: Re: Can't steam rice properly
Post by: euge on November 05, 2010, 07:44:19 PM
Why not buy a rice steamer (http://www.amazon.com/Steamers-Rice-Cookers-Small-Appliances/b?ie=UTF8&node=289939) and be done with it? Most Asians that I know have at least one.

My next door neighbors are Laotian. They soak their rice for 24 hours and have to add water. They make some fabulous sticky rice in those woven steamer baskets for big events like funeral parties.

No pot with a lid? Then you have to BOIL your rice and strain it when aldente. Chef's do it all the time and the difference is negligible with the difference that the rice isn't as sticky.

Title: Re: Can't steam rice properly
Post by: EHall on November 05, 2010, 08:49:19 PM
they also mention not to use cheesecloth... but that specialty stuff... think that could make a difference?
Title: Re: Can't steam rice properly
Post by: bluesman on November 05, 2010, 11:01:32 PM
Why not buy a rice steamer (http://www.amazon.com/Steamers-Rice-Cookers-Small-Appliances/b?ie=UTF8&node=289939) and be done with it? Most Asians that I know have at least one.

+1

It will steam it perfectly every time.
Title: Re: Can't steam rice properly
Post by: taylor-madeak on November 06, 2010, 10:46:49 AM
This has got to be the strangest forum topic that has yet sent traffic to my web site.  There seems to be some confusion in here!  Perhaps I can be of assistance?

The OP in this topic was confusing in its omission of the final gastronomic destination of the rice in question. =)  Your follow-up post made it more clear:

Oh right.

Still, I don't want to simmer the rice in a seasoned cast iron wok.  o.O  Among other things, how would I prepare dim sum or baozi and steamed vegetables at the same time?  (Yes I realize manipulating bamboo baskets full of steam is rough work-- I've done it quite a bit, and I don't use protection so I'm grabbing hot bamboo with hot steam and hot condensation all over the place with my bare hands.  Still, it can be done.)

I'm trying to figure out how to cook rice using a common, traditional method; unfortunately people are disinclined to answer the question and volunteer instructions for simmering rice instead of steaming it.  If I ask how to get the steak to cook just right rare on the grill, is someone going to tell me to pre-heat a cast iron pan and sear it for a minute and a half on each side and I'll have awesome, perfect steak?

EDIT:  Did I already mention that I also have a purpose-made rice steamer designed specifically to do this stuff?

(http://www.khiewchanta.com/images/thai-rice-steamer.jpg)

I sympathize with your frustration.  Maybe I can help you out a little bit.

That is a Thai rice steamer, which as you pointed out is a very common and traditional cooking device for rice.  The problem you're having is that your sushi rice is coming out translucent, tough, chewy, and barely sticky at all (clicky!) (http://i175.photobucket.com/albums/w151/ecator/DSC01346.jpg) and not at all the fluffy white sticky rice you're after, right?  The problem isn't really in your method, it's just that you're using the wrong kind of rice.  That particular kind of steamer is meant to be used for cooking glutinous rice (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glutinous_rice), not short (sushi rice) or long (jasmine rice, etc.) grain varieties of japonica rice.  Glutinous rice is the only kind of rice that will give you the kind of results you're looking for with this cooking method, other kinds of rice just aren't suited for this treatment and will do better simmering in a pot on the stove or an electric rice cooker.

Don't get me started on how infuriating it is that restaurants call rice cooked in a rice cooker "steamed" rice when it's really just plain old simmered rice!  That's a lot of where the confusion in this thread is coming from, and it's all due to a misuse of cooking terms by restaurateurs who should know better.  >:(

Some tips that you may find useful:

-- Don't try to seal the rice in a container for rinsing, that's just adding more hassle where you don't need it.  Just put the rice in a bowl that can hold twice the amount of rice you're using, fill with cold water, mix well with your hand, then pour most of the water out while using your hand to retain the rice.  Repeat twice (for a total of three rinses) and your rice will be as well-rinsed as it needs to be.

-- Soak for a long time.  Six to eight hours at minimum.  Overnight wouldn't be a bad idea.  You're after a fluffy, sticky texture in the final rice, which means you need to load it up with as much water as you can before applying the steam.  The steam just heats the water already present in the rice to cook it (gelatinize the starch, that is), it does not add much water to the rice on its own.  Steam is much to energetic for that, it transfers some heat and then it leaves.

-- Use a chopstick or your finger to poke some holes through a deep rice bed (like this (http://www.taylor-madeak.org/media/blogs/tmblog/DSC02620.JPG)) to allow steam to move through more freely.  Believe me, the end result is more even cooking.

-- Steam for as long as you think you can get away with (at least for sake rice).  You can start checking for doneness after 30 minutes, but I don't usually even bother until my 45 minute timer goes off.  Even then, I often have to add another 15 minutes for the rice to reach the level of gelatinization I'm after.  For steamed glutinous rice, most Thai cooks I know say 45 minutes is how long they steam.

I hope this helps!
Title: Re: Can't steam rice properly
Post by: capozzoli on November 06, 2010, 01:51:09 PM
Slight diversion here.

Hey Taylor, we were talking about you in one of the threads in here. You probably dont remember but a few years back you and I discussed the "Milky Saki" That I was looking for or perhaps how to make.

We came to the conclusion that it was unfiltered saki.

I have since found out that it is makgelloi, you know anything about this stuff? Its really tasty. I am tryng now to find the nuruk. Its a culture of yeast and fungus in a wheat cake vehicle.

I thought maybe you would have THE info.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makgeolli
Title: Re: Can't steam rice properly
Post by: taylor-madeak on November 06, 2010, 07:45:12 PM
Slight diversion here.

Hey Taylor, we were talking about you in one of the threads in here. You probably dont remember but a few years back you and I discussed the "Milky Saki" That I was looking for or perhaps how to make.

We came to the conclusion that it was unfiltered saki.

I have since found out that it is makgelloi, you know anything about this stuff? Its really tasty. I am tryng now to find the nuruk. Its a culture of yeast and fungus in a wheat cake vehicle.

I thought maybe you would have THE info.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makgeolli

Sure, I helped my buddy BrewStu come up with a somewhat sane method for making makgeolli a year or so ago.  I don't like the stuff myself, but like any other jiu it does benefit from temperature control and sane sanitation practices.  However, the fact that you're still using nuruk (which is often labeled as "enzyme" in Asian markets that cater to Korean tastes), your makgeolli is going to turn out sour no matter what you do.  As an enzymatic catalyst, nuruk isn't exactly sanitary stuff. =(  The only reason that examples you may have tried were sweet is because sugar had been added to them, which is common practice in Korea.
Title: Re: Can't steam rice properly
Post by: bluefoxicy on November 12, 2010, 04:02:52 PM
you're using the wrong kind of rice.  That particular kind of steamer is meant to be used for cooking glutinous rice (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glutinous_rice), not short (sushi rice) or long (jasmine rice, etc.) grain varieties of japonica rice.  Glutinous rice is the only kind of rice that will give you the kind of results you're looking for with this cooking method, other kinds of rice just aren't suited for this treatment and will do better simmering in a pot on the stove or an electric rice cooker.

Don't get me started on how infuriating it is that restaurants call rice cooked in a rice cooker "steamed" rice when it's really just plain old simmered rice!  That's a lot of where the confusion in this thread is coming from, and it's all due to a misuse of cooking terms by restaurateurs who should know better.  >:(


Ah.

Okay.  So I'm using a cooking method that's incorrect for the variety of rice I'm using.  If I want to make Onigiri or Sushi, I have to simmer?  I guess that makes that the traditional method.  ... and requires an extra pot on my stove, but I'll get some clay pots (http://www.wokshop.com/store/detail.php?show=193) for this maybe.

Mind you I've also got sticky thai rice (that I want to steam... it's the correct variety for this), and bamboo steamers that sit on a Wok (which should do the same job as this).  So, same deal:  can't cook sushi rice in that either, might be able to do sticky thai rice.


Quote
-- Don't try to seal the rice in a container for rinsing, that's just adding more hassle where you don't need it.  Just put the rice in a bowl that can hold twice the amount of rice you're using, fill with cold water, mix well with your hand, then pour most of the water out while using your hand to retain the rice.  Repeat twice (for a total of three rinses) and your rice will be as well-rinsed as it needs to be.

Or put it in a what is that thing called, collander?  And run clear?

Quote
-- Soak for a long time.  Six to eight hours at minimum.  Overnight wouldn't be a bad idea.  You're after a fluffy, sticky texture in the final rice, which means you need to load it up with as much water as you can before applying the steam.  The steam just heats the water already present in the rice to cook it (gelatinize the starch, that is), it does not add much water to the rice on its own.  Steam is much to energetic for that, it transfers some heat and then it leaves.

Okay, that clarifies that.  The rice is as wet as it gets.  Should I soak in the fridge, or on the counter?  Something tells me that 4000 years ago, Taiwanese people didn't own refrigerators; then again, I can build a refrigerator that runs directly on kerosene heat (yes, no mechanical parts, no electricity, apply fire get coldness), so I may be wrong.  Still, warm/hot water penetrates better due to lower viscosity right?

Quote
-- Use a chopstick or your finger to poke some holes through a deep rice bed (like this (http://www.taylor-madeak.org/media/blogs/tmblog/DSC02620.JPG)) to allow steam to move through more freely.  Believe me, the end result is more even cooking.

USEFUL!

Quote
-- Steam for as long as you think you can get away with (at least for sake rice).  You can start checking for doneness after 30 minutes, but I don't usually even bother until my 45 minute timer goes off.  Even then, I often have to add another 15 minutes for the rice to reach the level of gelatinization I'm after.  For steamed glutinous rice, most Thai cooks I know say 45 minutes is how long they steam.

So longer != damage?  I thought "too long" would be a horrible error.