In the back of your rice packets (especially basmati rice), there are usually instructions asking users to soak rice for about 20-25 minutes before cooking. Some recipes also specifically ask you to do this. Is this process necessary? Does it make any difference to the end result if we soak the rice? Find out the results from my little experiment and see for yourself…
Here’s the rice I used:
Here are the rice cooking instructions printed in the back:
Version 1: Cook the rice straightaway
I washed 1 cup of rice a couple of times and added it to the pan with 2 cups of water. I bought it to boil, then cooked for 10 minutes, covered on low heat. I turned off the heat and left it for 5 minutes, still covered.
Here’s how it looked after cooking:
Looks perfectly fine, doesn’t it? I poured it into a bowl. I took a couple of grains in my hand, they were well cooked.
I want to confess something – when I finished version 1, I was thrilled at this result. In my head, If I don’t have to soak rice for 20-25 minutes, that’s one less thing to worry about during cooking. And saving time and steps in the kitchen is always a good thing in my book. But, boy o boy, I was about to learn something more about the quality of the finished rice soon (as seen in version 2 below).
Version 2: Soak the rice for 20-25 minutes, then cook
I soaked 1 cup of rice for the recommended 25 minutes in water. After the time was up, I strained the rice and continued with the exact same instructions as version 1.
First of all, one important note – within 25 minutes of soaking – 1 cup of rice had plumped into 1 and 1/3 cups of rice. Which in itself was extraordinary.
Secondly, the soaked rice cooked at a much faster rate than the un-soaked rice. I guess that should not be too shocking, but by about minute 7-8, the rice started to look done and I turned the stove down to real low to ensure the bottom did not burn.
Just by looking at it, I was absolutely certain that after the resting time, the rice will be very well-cooked.
And lo and behold, it was….It passed the finger squishing test with flying colors.
So, what’s the big difference? Look below, now remember I used exact same 1 cup of rice for both the versions and scooped them into same-size bowls.
Look at how hydrated the grains appear and how much more quantity the same amount of rice yielded with the soaked version.
Here’s another look:
This experiment was done with Basmati rice. Soaking the rice for about 25 minutes seem to hydrate the grain more and yield much more cooked rice than the unsoaked version.
Hope this little experiment helped you understand the importance of soaking rice for certain recipes. Post your comments and questions below. I look forward to reading them.
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