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Classic Chinese white rice recipe  

Plain White Rice Recipe 白米飯 (bái mǐfàn) Short, medium and long grain rice is eaten in China. As long as rice is served pure, white and fluffy, all will be well under the heavens.


If you are reading this, you must have lost the bag your rice came in (with cooking instructions), because that is what you should be following. Read on, using this as a guide only.

A dedicated rice cooker is a great kitchen gadget if you'll use it a lot; if not it is like any other seldom used kitchen toy: a waste of space and money. So if you cook rice only occasionally you need to know how to do it on your stovetop. Chinese restaurants and cookbooks usually refer to plain white rice as steamed. Confusingly, it is sometimes known as boiled rice. In fact the Chinese method of cooking rice involves a stage of boiling, followed by a period of steaming. The English language lacked a term to express this exact cooking method until some clever Dick coined the term 'absorption method' – not a description that rolls off the tongue. I call it boiled and steamed rice – not pithy either but at least it is clear. The Chinese themselves don't seem to have a precise term for this cooking method. Zhu (mi) fan simply means to 'cook rice.'

Serves 4 (about 6 heaped bowls of rice)

2 cups rice
3 cups water


  1. Remove dust and impurities by rinsing rice in a couple of changes of water. Run your fingers through rice as you rinse.
  2. Drain and place rice into a flat, heavy bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid.
  3. Add water.
  4. Without lid, bring to a boil on a medium heat. Stir well.
  5. Place lid on pot, and simmer on a very low heat for about 18 minutes.
  6. Turn off heat and allow rice to rest for 15 minutes to complete water absorption process.
  7. Mix rice to fluff it up, and serve in bowls.

Most American-grown rice is fortified with vitamins and minerals in the form of a powder coating, and should not be rinsed before cooking. Cooking time may vary depending on rice type. In general long grain rice needs a bit more water than short, and older rice is dryer and may also need extra water. Never use a wok. Never toss in oil, butter or salt, or any other additive. Do not remove the lid from the pot until the rice is ready to serve. Do not wash rice after cooking.



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