Rice

More than one type to choose from

short riceRice is the most important food crop for most Asian countries. It is also the second largest crop production in the world (corn is number one). It is often cooked whole and served with most meals or can be stir-fried with sauces and meat. It can also be made into flour, wine, cakes, vinegar, milk, flakes, noodles, paper, and tea.

Rice is classified by the size of the grain, long, medium and short grain. Long-grain rice is long, slender and stay separate and fluffy after cooking. It this is the best choice if you want to serve it as a side dish, or as a bed for sauces or soup. Medium-grain rice is shorter while short-grain rice is almost round. Most varieties are sold as either brown or white rice, depending upon how they are milled. Brown rice retains the bran that surrounds the kernel, making it chewier, nuttier, and richer in nutrients. White rice lacks the bran and germ, but is more tender and delicate. Brown rice takes about twice as long to cook as white rice.

As you can imagine, there are many types of rice. The ones most Hmong family prefer isJasmin rice. Originally from Thialand it is a long grained rice with a nutty aroma. It is somewhat sticky but not as sticky as some of the shorter grain rice. The amount of starch determines how sticky they rice will be once cooked. Traditionally rice is steamed in a bamboo basket with a pot. In most U.S. Hmong families, a rice cooker is prefered as it is takes less time and is a less complicated methiod for cooking rice.

Jasmine Rice Steamed
(Traditional Method) 

As with most asian cultures, rice is a central part of the Hmong diet. It is eaten at every meal.

steamerPreparing rice, a daily task in our household when I was growing up, sets my family apart from other households in our neighborhood. Two to three cups of uncooked rice was scooped from a one-hundred pound bin of rice each morning? Cool water is added and the grains gently scrubbed to remove impurities. The waste water was then carefully removed so as not to lose any grains. This was done multiple times to make sure the rice was clean. The rice was then poured into a bamboo basket and set on top of a metal pot. A lid was placed on top of the bamboo basket. While this the rice stared its first stage, a separate pot of water was was filled and heated. After the rice was cooked for about 18-25 minutes, it looses it’s white opaque appearance and becomes somewhat sticky. At that time, the rice was taken out and placed in a large bowl.  The water that was started in the other pot was now boiling and it is added to the rice in the pot. Enough water was added to be level with the amount of rice. The rice and water mixture was stirred and covered. After setting for about 10-15 minutes, the rice was ready for it’s final stage of cooking. The rice is placed back into the bamboo steamer and covered. It is cooked for another 8-12 minutes and then it was ready.

(Rice Cooker Method)
A much simpler method. Wash the rice. Place in cooker. Add the correct amount of water. Press cook. Wait 20 minutes. Rice is ready to serve.

rice cooker