Philippines loves to eat rice (bigas). The perfect steamed rice is the best.
Resulta ng larawan para sa steam rice
Non-Filipinos often find Filipino food a bit salty. (If you live in the tropics, you always perspire and your body craves for salt!) The neutralizer for this “saltiness” is steamed rice. Two parts steamed rice and one part main dish (or “viand”) is usually the correct combination to strike a balance.

Most Filipinos say that steamed rice is the main dish and that the goodness of the meal depends on the goodness of the steamed rice. A general rule of thumb is that one person consumes about three cups of steamed rice per meal—and one cup of uncooked rice makes three cups of cooked rice.

Today, many people use rice cookers but in the rural areas of the Philippines, it is still common to cook rice using a kaldero, a special pot made of cast iron specifically designed to cook rice on the stovetop. It is thick enough to avoid the rice being burnt.

Cooking perfect steamed rice on the stovetop takes a little practice. To create fluffy rice, one needs to use the right amount of water, the right level of heat, a heavy-bottomed pot, and a tight lid to trap the steam (steam finishes the cooking during the “resting” period).

Different types of rice need different amounts of water. As a general rule though, the ratio of water to long-grain white rice should be a bit less than double.

You may need to experiment to find out the best ratio for the specific rice you are using. New crop rice, or rice harvested in the same year that it is sold, is not as dry as old rice so it needs slightly less water.

In general, too much water results in softer and stickier rice (and may even resemble porridge), less water results in hard (sometimes uncooked) steamed rice. The best way to produce perfectly steamed rice is to use the same kind and brand of rice and the same saucepan, and experiment until you get it right.

Serves 4 to 6 Cooking time: 25 minutes
4 cups (800 g) white long-grain rice (jasmine rice)
Approximately 7 cups (1.75 liters) water

Place the rice in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, cover with water and wash the rice thoroughly in order to remove the excess starch. (Some mills use talc powder as a milling aid, so it’s important to rinse the rice thoroughly.) Swish the rice around with your fingers and discard the milky water(or use it to make Fish Soup with Miso Dip, page 36) without pouring any rice out of the saucepan. Add water again and wash the rice 2 more times, or until the water runs clear. Drain well.

Add the water to the pan and level the rice by rocking the pan so the rice settles evenly at the bottom. Measure the level of the water by lowering your hand—palm open and fingers stretched down, and touching the bottom of the pan—and noting where the level of the rice is against the level of the water. The level of the water should be almost twice as high as the level of the rice.

Place the saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. When the rice starts bubbling, turn the heat down to the lowest setting, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and leave for about 20 minutes. Do not lift the lid while cooking as this will interrupt the steaming process.

Turn off the heat and let stand for another 20 minutes with the lid still on. (Leave for another 10 more minutes or longer if cooking more than 4 cups of rice.) The steam inside the pot will finish the cooking. When cooked, transfer the rice to a serving bowl and place on the middle of the table. Serve hot.

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