Boiled rice

Hong Kongers are practical people. That is a euphemism. They are fanatically practical people. Anyone caught complicating things is branded a fool, unless of course he has some ulterior motive. But boiled rice is boiled rice and since the invention of the modern rice cooker by Yoshitada Minami (Toshiba Electric Corporation, 1954), it comes out of an electrical appliance. Even the Queen’s Counsel scoffed at my suggestion of making rice in a pan.

Our first boat in Hong Kong was a 57 ft teak leisure junk. Oriental Friendship 2 had no electricity save for a couple of 100 Amp engine batteries; a rice cooker was not an option. I remember asking the shop attendants in Shanghai Street what the best pan was for making rice and how they laughed and suggested I stick to boiling… what is it you boil in Europe? …. potatoes! and buy a rice cooker instead. Eventually, a Japanese chef came along who sympathised with my plight and directed my attention to a large, thick-bottomed, Korean-made aluminum pan.

Making rice in a pan is as easy as pie:

> count one cup of Thai Saffron rice per person/rice bowl

> wash the rice in cold water until it runs clear.

> throw the washed rice in the pan and add cold water. 1 and 1/4 cup of water for 1 cup of rice.

> cover the pan, bring to a boil, then down to a simmer

> when all the water is evaporated, which takes around 10 minutes, leave it on the fire for another couple of minutes, until it reaches the right degree of dryness. Take the lid off, stir with a fork gently, cut the gas, put the lid back on and let it rest for 3 minutes before serving. For fried rice, it is recommended to let the rice go cold before throwing it in the wok.

Easy as pie. Dōmo arigatō gozaimashita.

PS: Rice in Hong Kong is sold in 5 kg bags, which is the weight a Tanka grandmother can lift without wincing. If the crossing is long enough and you stock a sufficient amount, those bags will make excellent ballast.

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