Rice Water Absorbtion
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Thread: Rice Water Absorbtion

  1. #1
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    Default Rice Water Absorbtion

    Hi all... question for the experts...

    I have noticed a few posts regarding methods of cooking rice and the differing values on how much water to use, how many times to rince, to soak or not to soak etc. so I decided to do a little thinking and a little research. My frustrations developed from my local asian supermarket whose large bags of Jasmine rice are purchased on the basis of which are the best deals from the suppliers as opposed to which bags their customers prefer so I have gone through quite a few different varieties all with differing values of water absorbtion. Firstly, let's start on where rice is grown... it's grown in rice fields in mostly tropical countries. And what do rice fields have... well, they are all very moist. So it's logical to say that rice should be washed as there should be a plentyful supply of water in the country of origin. However, it is also logical to ascertain that rice grown in different area's of a particular country will of course be subject to different growing conditions with varying amounts of soil water content. That's where the research ends and now for the logical assumption and my question. Rice grown in an area with a high moisture and water soil content would yield a better grade of rice and the land would be more valuable than an area where the moisture content was lower. I'm guessing that most of that higher grade of rice is retained for national consumtion and that the lower grade is exported and I'm also guessing that the lower grade of rice will in fact have a higher rate of water absorbtion. Now, here's the real funny part, but I must admit i am only guessing and that is that the lower grade of rice does indeed make for a better and firmer texture which is ideal for fried rice. Any comments would be appreciated because I am now convinced that the ideal water / rice ratio is 1:1 and if that doesnt yield a satisfactory rice, then it's just a case of adding more water to cook.
    So, my question is as follows - Does the amount of water needed to cook rice reflect on the growing conditions and is it in fact a simple answer - the higher the moisture soil content when grown, the less water needed to cook. Sorry about the essay, maybe a max cap on how many words can be used should be introduced
    rgds, Ger
    I posted on Real Curry Recipes so can you!

  2. #2
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    Firstly IANAE!
    Quote Originally Posted by tecknoe11 View Post
    Firstly, let's start on where rice is grown... it's grown in rice fields in mostly tropical countries. And what do rice fields have... well, they are all very moist.
    They are mostly paddy fields and under at least a quarter metre of water!
    Quote Originally Posted by tecknoe11 View Post
    However, it is also logical to ascertain that rice grown in different area's of a particular country will of course be subject to different growing conditions with varying amounts of soil water content.
    The soil (well mud) and weather will vary a lot, but also the TYPE of rice being grown will have a big difference. It's like potatoes, they vary from region to region as well as from variety to variety.

    Quote Originally Posted by tecknoe11 View Post
    I'm guessing that most of that higher grade of rice is retained for national consumtion and that the lower grade is exported
    Usually it is the other way around. Rice is grown in what were traditionally poor nations and they needed all the foreign revenue they could get. Higher quality products generally command a higher price. Overseas buyers could afford this higher quality produce, but the locals can't and so make do with the cheaper stuff as they don't have the luxury to shop around for the more expensive quality rice.
    Rice is a bulky and heavy product to ship and shipping costs will of course need to be reclaimed, this makes a given rice brand more espensive in the UK than say Pakistan where it only has to go on a lorry to a shop. Not only that but there are more middle men all trying to take their cut of the final price. Don't forget that as with clothes and cars brand names will also command a higher price, even if it is identical rice in the packet. Finally where you buy from and what quantity you buy in will also affect the price.

    Quote Originally Posted by tecknoe11 View Post
    and I'm also guessing that the lower grade of rice will in fact have a higher rate of water absorbtion.
    On what are you basing this?
    Quote Originally Posted by tecknoe11 View Post

    Any comments would be appreciated because I am now convinced that the ideal water / rice ratio is 1:1 and if that doesnt yield a satisfactory rice, then it's just a case of adding more water to cook.
    It depends on a lot more than just the rice. Rice which has been soaked and not completely dried before cooking will take on less moisture. But the cooking method is also very important. Simmered uncovered on the hob, or covered, or in the oven covered or steamed? All will change the quantity of water needed for a given firm texture. Cooking in a microwave oven will also be slightly different. If you go into it enough I am sure that there will be a difference depending on the type of water you use to cook in as well!

    I always wash rice before using it (and lentils) - once you have done this and seen the muck that you would eat if not washed will likely have a lasting impact. Try it.

    As to the water I think it's mainly down to how the rice is cooked foremost and the type and variety second. Soaking might have a little impact too.

    I always use basmati rice and always soak the rice for at least 20 minutes, maybe 35 max and rinse thoroughly, then drain. I cook on the hob (covered) for about 7 minutes and then stir and place into the oven for up to 30 minutes. Stir and serve.

    You asked for opinions and that is mine!

    KP(v)
    Last edited by King Prawn; 05-09-2011 at 04:29 PM.

  3. #3
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    Hi KP, tks for the replies... I use Jasmine for Asian cooking and Basmati for pretty much everything else... i've only gone through a few types of Basmati and can confirm that using the exact same cooking process and the exact same amount of water, one rice ends up, plump, tender and only slightly sticky ( pretty much the way I have had it in most Asian restaurants ) whilst the other isn't as plump and requires more water to achieve the same texture and plumpness , tasty, nice but not as nice as the first type. I have gone though a lot of Jasmine brands and have had rice with a rice/water ratio of 1:1, 1:1.5 and even as high as 1:2 and this is the reason for the post, as there has to be a logical reason. As for cooking method, and I appreciate this is an Indian website first and foremost, but most of my cooking principles relate to Chinese cooking where rice is never cooked in an oven. You have explained a few things and tks for taking the time to reply but my question still remains unanswered. Does the amount of water needed to cook rice reflect on the growing conditions? and my guessing is yes and that it relates mainly to the amount of water in the soil, so to answer your question KP, I am basing my assumption that some rice will have grown in higher levels of water than others ( or to reverse, some will have grown in lower levels of water ) and that this will have a direct effect on the amount of water required to cook the rice.
    rgds and tks, Ger
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    And I might be completely wrong
    I posted on Real Curry Recipes so can you!

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    Quote Originally Posted by tecknoe11 View Post
    And I might be completely wrong
    Sorry I think your wrong on the amount of water the paddy fields have. Lets face it Rice is grown in flooded fields, i.e. more water than the plant requires.

    The other mistake I think your making is in a restaurant they don't cook rice to order as such. They will cook up large amounts of rice and re-heat as required.

    If for example your cooking egg fried rice this will not be done with fresh boiled rice. It will be made from a batch made in advance and re-heated in a wok with the egg and any other ingredients, i.e spring onion etc.

    This is exactly the same in Indian cooking. A busy kitchen just does not have the time to measure out the water like you are doing, they will bring a large pot of water to a boil, often drop a good sized chefs spoon of ghee (butter) and once melted put in the rice. The rice will be tested until the rice is cooked how the chefs wants and then strained and often washed in cold water and stored then ready for that evenings clients. (some restaurants much longer unfortunately)

    Its the testing if the rice is cooked by taking a grain or 2 and either tasting it or pressing between finger and thumb or not during cooking phase is the key, not the amount of water you put in.

  6. #6
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    Are all the experiments you have done with the same brand and same batch? With the same pan, same water and same ambient temperature? Was the rice of the same age? Was the water the same temperature? The same atmospheric pressure?

    Don't forget that rice is milled and that means processed. Also, rice is often 'aged' to get it to you in the best condition. Like wine and beer, it will vary from batch to batch, brand to brand and variety to variety.

    In short, I can't answer your question. But I think you are barking up the wrong tree here. Rice is grown in VERY wet conditions. The paddy fields are flodded with water and it's a bog of water and mud, not 'soil'. I have driven through the rice fields of Valencia and ther are known as 'the wetlands' to the locals.

    Rice is picked and then DRIED and milled. Often it is stored and 'aged' to get it to the right level.

    In many cases I suspect that rice might even be 'blended' with older rice grains (or inferior grains) for consistency (or bulk) as in the making of port.

    How are you GRADING the rice in the first place? What criteria do you use to identify a 'high' and 'low' quality rice?

    If you missed my recent posting (search on here) there is even 'FAKE' rice out there and in China they believe that up to 90% of Thai fragrant rice on sale in China is a fake. This could easily explain what you are seeing.

    If you can get it, Thai Hom Mali is the rice variety you really want. It is from an original strain from central Thailand and is much prized for it's flavour and aroma. It was what they use in Thailand.

    There are so many variables in here that focusing on one, rather doubtful IMHO, possibility is off the mark. But hey, I am willing to be proved wrong....

    KP(v)
    Last edited by King Prawn; 05-09-2011 at 10:00 PM.

  7. #7
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    Nice one KP, u're an endless encyclopedia of information... it's just doing my head in with all the differing quantities of water needed to cook my rice. For the record, I tried out Supervalu (local supermarket here in Ireland) brand of Basmati and the ratio is 1:1 plus the water left at the bottom of the pan after washing and the rice is perfect when cooked. I'll check out that brand of Jasmine u mentioned, problem is as u say urself, paying a delivery charge.
    As for the pre cooking of the rice cheddars, I'm well aware of that, but if u do cook fried rice at home, restaurant chinese fried rice is prepared differently and will always have a firmer texture than steamed, appreciate the answers and replies.
    rgds, Ger
    I posted on Real Curry Recipes so can you!

  8. #8
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    It's always amazing to me how such a simple thing in life can become so complex when looked at in such detail.

    If you ever find an answer to your quesiton then please do share it with us here.

    Until then, good luck with the quest and may your rice always be cooked to perfection!

    KP(v)

  9. #9
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    Just a point to add to this analysis paralysis.

    over the years I have a lot of experience of Northeast BIR kitchens, probably over 50 and counting, as I was in a new one last night.
    Sadly, I've only ever been in 5 Chinese kitchens, but one thing sticks in my memory about their rice cooking.
    They all had an oversized (National) electric rice cooker, which intrigued me at the time and I asked where I could get one for home. Back in the 80's, you could only get them in Chinatown (National Brand) I still use mine today and it still delivers perfect rice "every time".

    Can't say if every Chinese in the land still uses these Rice Cookers,
    but the one's I knew back in the day, surely did.

    Are the paddy fields half full or half empty?

    cheers Chewy
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  10. #10
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    Well, my investigations have led me further after a recent visit to my local Asian store for a big bag of Jasmine Rice...
    As per usual, 1 cup of rice, 1.5 cups of water... end result, soup..
    so, 1 cup of rice, 1.25 cups of water (which also applies to a good brand of Basmati rice that I use ) end result, porridge
    so, I return to my original ratio from years back, which always seems to work with my sushi rice of 1 cup of washed rice to 1 cup of water and hey presto, the most delicious, tender, soft rice that I had in ages... so, upon a visit to my local Chinese restaurant, I asked the owner for a bit more info... he explained to me that rice is... doooohhh, seasonal, just like potatoes and every time the restaurant gets a new batch of rice, they always test to see how much water the rice will absorb... so, i went home and checked my bag of rice, which for the record, is Golden Dragon, Thai Jasmine rice, and what would you know, on the back of the bag a little label stuck on which reads - 'New Crop 2012', and its absolutly delicious and I even bought a bag of different rice from my local supermarket for making fried as it would be a sin to fry this stuff... oh and by the way, my Chinese buddy also told me they use a little oil when marinating their beef....damn but a little corn flour does give a similar texture..
    I posted on Real Curry Recipes so can you!

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