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 the water becomes clear.

> throw the washed rice in the pan and add cold water. 1 and 1/4 cup of water for 1 cup of rice; a tiny bit less if making fried rice.

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

> when all the water is evaporated, which takes around 10 minutes, cut the gas, take the lid off and let the rice steam off for 30 seconds, then separate the grains by tossing the rice about with a fork, gently, and making sure it doesn’t stick to the pan, which it should try to do if it’s been cooked long enough. Put the lid back on and let it rest for 3-5 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 Hakka 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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