In honor of my father, I continue my focus on his favorite four-letter word: r-i-c-e. A childhood memory that’s in-grained (pun intended) in my head, revolves around the daily 4:00 hour: time to make the rice for dinner. Back then (in the 70s), years before Costco existed, my dad was ahead of the times when it came to bulk-buying. He would stock up on 25 pound bags of rice from
Chinatown, and dump them in a 3 foot tall, brown tin barrel, which sat in the corner of our kitchen next to the fridge. That barrel represented an endless pit of rice. I don’t recall ever seeing the bottom of that barrel, probably because my dad would panic that we’d run out and re-fill it before it got even halfway empty.
When you took the lid off the tin barrel, a light-blue, plastic teacup always sat at the top of the rice pile. Five, level cups of rice would be precisely measured and carefully poured into the aluminum rice pot insert, making a distinct crisp, tinkling sound when the hard rice grains hit the bottom of the pot. By the mid-70s, my mom had probably made about a thousand pots of rice. So she finally came to her senses and taught my sisters and brother how to make rice as soon as they were old enough. So “rice duty” became a weekly rotating chore for them to share. I always knew when it was 4:00 because I would hear one of my siblings moan and groan about having to make rice. No more “Speed Racer”; go make the rice!
Since I was the youngest, I was lucky enough to fly under the radar and escape the rice duty rotation. Years later, the downside to that was that I never really knew how to properly make a pot of rice! It would come out too hard, too mushy, too overcooked, or just plain too stuck to the bottom of the pot! Pretty embarrassing for a Chinese girl. Here are some “Rice 101” basics, so you don’t have to learn the hard way (trial-and-error), like me.
1. Choosing the rice – Many of the recipes on my blog list “steamed white rice” as an accompaniment. For all my Chinese cooking, I use Niko Niko Calrose white rice. You can find small, five pound bags at your mainstream grocery store (in the Asian food