Perfect Steamed Rice Recipe

Hey guys! I just wanted to quickly say hello and to let you know that we’re having a great time.  So far I’ve managed to stay out of trouble and haven’t been arrested for indecent language or deported for eating more than my fair share of Hairy Mitten Crabs. I have so much to tell you about, but maybe a little bite at a time….

Steamed Rice Recipe

Steamed Rice Recipe

I’m writing this post after climbing a portion of the Great Wall of China earlier this afternoon, where I had one of the most humbling moments in my life. But let me back up for just a sec and explain why I’m China in the first place…..

I was born on the island of Hong Kong during its British colonization, however, this is my first journey to mainland China. When China lost the Opium War it was forced to lease out Hong Kong for 99 years to the British. In 1997, the lease was over. But, like a child given up by its parents, I never felt any allegiance to the motherland, which is why I never had any interest to visit China in my earlier years. I was from Hong Kong, not from China and had always made that distinction very clear when people asked where I was from.

I’m older now and a mother of 2 Chinese-American boys born in Florida. I felt a strong need visit China and explore my ancestral roots. I couldn’t bear to hold the grudge any longer, it wouldn’t be fair to my sons. When my Mom suggested that we take a family trip with my parents, brother and my husband, I agreed.

The first step to reconciliation was to start with an easy subject, one in which we could establish good will and common ground – food. Only after a full stomach and happy heart could we ease into more controversial subjects like politics, personal freedoms and bad karaoke.

Prior to leaving for my trip, I dreamt of writing and photographing elaborate, exotic delicacies from each region on our 14-day tour across the country. I fantasized of showcasing the authentic versions of Kung Pao Chicken and Sweet and Sour Pork that resembled nothing like its overly sweet, calorie-laden Americanized version.

But my plan never blossomed beyond my imagination. For several days now, I’ve trekked through Beijing’s major tourist attractions – such as Tienanmen Square, Forbidden City, The Summer Palace and the Ming Dynasty Tombs. While I’ve enjoyed the historical relics immensely, after the second day I forced myself to look past the country’s trademarks and instead study its people. Not the tour guide nor the souvenir hawkers, but the commoners on the fringe, those normally never appearing within a camera’s viewfinder.

It was a steep climb up hundreds of uneven stone steps of the Great Wall, but I had barely scratched the surface of the dragon’s back that went on for another 4,500 miles. This was the work of over 1 million Chinese that took a decade to hand-construct, over 2,000 years ago. I listened to stories of bone chilling winters and extreme hunger that the Chinese laborers endured in order to build this structure.

At a local restaurant minutes near the base of the Great Wall, a 7-ish year old girl with a plum shaped face, simple clothing and crooked pigtails that looked like the tips ancient calligraphy brushes sat with her parents. She probably had no cares of Hanna Montana, High School Musical or Brangelina as she waited eagerly for her supper. Her mama scooped a mountain of snowy steamed rice with the bamboo spatula into the little girl’s bowl. Her baba carefully balanced a spoonful of preserved vegetables with slivers of pork on top of the rice. With a wide-eyed “waaaahhh!” which is Chinese slang for “wow!” she hungrily lifted the bowl just to the tip of her lips and grasped her chopsticks to shovel it all in.

I just knew I could no longer write about Peking Duck with Scallion Pancakes or about the Steamed Mitten Crabs. In order to fully appreciate authentic dishes from China, I first had to pay respect to the foundation of the Chinese and the most humble food of all, rice. And this begins my journey to reconnect with my country.


p.s. I LOVE Chinese math.

The price of 1 Coke = 2 beers

Chinese Math

How can you not fall in love with this country????


Perfect Steamed Rice Recipe

Servings: 4 Prep Time: Cook Time:


2 cups (380 g) raw rice (long grain, jasmine or short grain rice)
2 1/2 cups (700 ml) cool water


Place rice grains in pot. Wash the rice and swish with your hands. Drain and repeat 3 more times until the water is no longer milky. This helps remove excess starch and clean the grains.

Fill the pot with the cool water and the washed rice. Turn the heat to high. When the water near the edge of pot starts bubbling, cover the pot and reduce heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes.

Turn off heat and keep covered! Just let it sit with lid on for 5 minutes to finish the steaming process. Fluff with fork after done.

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Comments 89

  1. Kelly Mahoney

    The dish looks delicious.

    Thoughtful post on your view of China as well — I think it’s only as we get older that we begin to think about where we came from.

  2. NY Girl Eats World

    What a beautiful composition, J. That moment in the restaurant — with the girl you so charmingly describe — is why we travel, no? It’s for those blink-of-an-eye moments that jolt us and change our lives, or at the very least our perspective of it, forever.

  3. The Big Guy

    Hi Jaden-
    Funny- I’m in China this month too!
    I just left Macao and am in Hong Kong and ShenZhen for the week, then I’m off to ShangHai until Thanksgiving.

    Sounds like you went to Badaling… Great site- better than Mutianyu and Simatai. Those tours to the Great Wall are a killer… The Wall is good, the Ming Tombs are so-so: Emperor Zhu De is interesting if you get the backstory- (Find a copy of “1421- the Year the Chinese Discovered America- interesting reading) but the mandatory visit to the Chinese Medicine Institute, the Cloisonnes factory and Jade factory are outright tourist traps to separate tourists from their money and their valuable time.

    I hope you make it to QuanJuDe for Peking Duck- I’ve had it several places, but QuanJuDe is the best-
    It’s on Qianmen St., Just south of Tian’anman Square…

    I’m going to Spring Deer restaurant in Kowloon for dinner-
    My daughter and I went there about 6 years ago…the best duck in Hong Kong.

    Hopefully you’ll get to a market during your travels-
    I went wandering through a fresh market in Macao a couple days ago… The guys I was with ran from the building since the first sight we saw was a chicken getting wrung and dressed.
    I spent a hour inside, looking at the displays of fresh vegetables, the bins, tubs and trays of live fish, shrimp, clams and lobster… then all the dried offerings…mushrooms, meats and sausages, preserved eggs…
    It was painful to see all this great stuff and be stuck in a hotel with no access to a kitchen!

    See some pics from my travels on my website-
    Listen to Uncle Jay…

    Enjoy your trip- Safe Travels!

    (The Big Guy)

  4. Lisa

    Fantabulous post. I’m not shocked that you found the people most interesting as opposed to the places and tourist attractions. Any time I travel, it’s the people who live where I’m at who tell the best stories – either in words or just by watching them. I look forward to everything you’ve discovered! =)


  5. mi

    That was a very touching and poignant post. I totally could envision the little girl delighted with her bowl of rice. Thank you for sharing this post about going back to your roots. However, this is not the first step you have taken. You have already brought so much to your readers by sharing your culture through your past posts… you have started your journey and taken us with you by the hand by showing us what I feel is the most welcoming part of our culture… the food.

    I recently took a trip back to my roots in Taiwan. This time bringing my Vietnamese fiance. The best part of showing him around was sharing my culture with him through food. We both had a wonderful time eating to our hearts content… and like you, even though we ventured to many normal touristy places, just studying the individuals that share our same skin color but yet have grown up in an entirely different country was truly a cultural experience we will treasure forever.

    My favorite part of our culture is how we show our love of people through food. Relatives are always showing their love for you by taking you to more and more places to eat. I could always tell how much my parents liked a particular boyfriend of mine in the past by how many times the tell him to “eat more ear more!” 🙂

    Here’s a link to my post on some foods we ate in Taiwan, if you’re interested.

    Enjoy your trip!

  6. wmw

    What a lovely post…that’s why I’m appreciative of all that I have and what has been given to me. My cup runneth over …. with steamed rice :o)

  7. Carol

    Sounds like you’re having a ball, Jaden! Can’t wait to see your travel pics. Did I ever tell you that I feel literally ill if I don’t have rice for more than 2 days?HA!HA!

  8. daphne

    hey Jaden, sounds like a heart warming and deserving trip for the whole family. Can’t wait for more of your posts and insights.

  9. Big Boys Oven

    We are looking forward to read more of your China trip.

    Got a question, have you seen a warm milk dish that will curd once mixed with ginger syrup in China?

  10. Cris

    What a beautiful life story you shared with us and the way you are showing your kids your roots, they are going to cherish these moments forever.

  11. Tea

    You’re so right, Jaden. It all comes down to the basics.

    The reason why I know I’m partly Asian at heart (blue eyes and blond hair not withstanding) is the fact that a bowl of freshly steamed white rice can nearly make me cry. There is nothing in the world so pure and perfect.

  12. peace

    This was a lovely piece, and thanks for the tips on how to properly prepare rice. I always learn something utter useful when I visit your blog. I’m glad you’re rediscovering your roots.

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  14. s'kat

    Wow, China! Although there is something a little ironic that it’s this journey that allowed you to stop, drop & simplify. 😉

    Have fun.

  15. seamaiden

    Thanks for coming by my site! I’m so jealous- I’ve (lived in) Japan and been to Singapore and India but I still haven’t made it to China, Hong Kong or Taiwan. I’d love to go! Maybe next year… Loved the write up. I’m addicted to my rice cooker- is that bad? lol.


  16. Pritya

    Dear Jaden, That is quite a well expressed write-up about touching your roots again. That wave of nostalgia is what makes life beautiful. We visited China just this year for the Gourmand World Cookbook awards held at Beijing. Its awe-inspiring – the city, the scenic beauty, the magnificent great wall.

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  18. Payne

    Thanks for the recipe. Hahah that sounds like a knockoff of a Fallout Boy song: Thnks Fr Th Rcpe. (allusion to Thnks Fr Th Mmrs, and yes, the song’s actually spelled like that)
    Aaaanyway… I’ve just come back from China and I agree, Chinese food is nothing like American Un-Chinese food. (making it very clear of the difference). I was there for 2 weeks and I loved it. I’m still trying to wean myself off of rice, and seeing as how this is my first breakfast back in America (or Meguo in Chinese) I would still like rice, because frankly, I’m still addicted haha. I love the sweet and sour pork, the peking duck, everything but the chicken heads and feet. I just couldn’t bring myself to eat something that looked back at me when I looked at it. Or something that I could shake as a greeting. My friend, however, had no qualms in trying it, and he loved it. I must say, everybody, If you ever have the chance to go to China, go ahead. China has gotten such a bad rap in America because we’re capitalist and they’re communist, but if I were to say which population was more friendly, I would have to say Chinese. In America, if you say hi to someone that you’ve never seen in your life, you’d be lucky to get a polite nod. In China, you do the same, and they very clearly say hi back and beam at you (you’d have to say it in Chinese, though. Not many understand English). They’re also not as conservatively styled as people make them out to be. True, you’re not going to see a girl walking down the street topless, or a guy bottomless, but they’re not as conservative as you think. Once again, if you ever have the chance, go. Let me give you the info of my guide, seeing as how he is now my good friend, and I wish to give him some business.

    Long (or Dragon, or Dragon-Long)
    [email protected]
    He currently is no longer working for Gecko full time, but if you ask for Dragon, or just email him, then you can get hooked up with him with no extra trouble and expense. Tell him Payne sent you and said hi.

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  20. Crystal

    I still cook white rice like my Grandma. She put her finger in the pot resting on the top of the rice and filled the water to the first knuckle. No measuring cups needed. It works every time. I don’t know why, but it does. No matter how much rice I cook, 1 knuckle above. DONE.

    It doesn’t hurt to throw two lap chong sausages on top to add great flavor to the rice. Just sayin’.

  21. Jojo

    Whats the best rice brand! My rice still turns out sticky and does not go with the orange chicken i made! i washed it but still stuck on other rice help plez Jaden!

    1. SteamyKitchen

      Hi Jojo, try using less water next time. I get my rice from the Asian markets (but the brands change all the time). I love getting jasmine rice.

  22. mangoes2020

    In order to succeed this recipe you have to use Diamond Pearl Basmati Rice. This is a Pure Indian Basmati rice. If you want more informations go on the website or send a mail at [email protected]

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  24. MK

    I’m pleased that, for once, attention is being paid to the quality of the rice. Considering that rice is such an integral part of most Chinese meals, it surprises me that we do not focus much on perfecting our rice technique (or do most Chinese cooks take for granted that their rice technique is already perfect, I wonder?) I have been cooking for a very long time, and I still feel that my rice is sometimes lacking. My criteria for perfect rice? If I am happy to eat it plain and simple, with no accompaniment or even a drop of soy sauce! I like to use Basmati, (ideally, soaked overnight and then very gently rinsed), and cook using the absorption method in quite well-salted water, with a towel under the lid. When cooked, I let it rest for 15 minutes, then fluff it up with a fork (a spoon might break the grains). I know that this does not give the ‘sticky’ texture that some people appreciate, however.

  25. Jade

    I followed your directions and my rice turned out severely under done. Should I add more water or let it cook longer? any help is great!

  26. mdeater

    You may need to add more water, especially if you live at a higher altitude. I live in Arizona (about 30 miles SE of Phoenix) and because the altitude here is higher than in other places in the country due to local geography, I find that I need to have a 1.5 – 1 ratio of water to rice so there is sufficient water for the rice to cook. (1.5 cups water for each cup of raw rice being cooked). Try adding more water, 1/4 cup at a time, until you find a ratio that works.

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  28. Sara Sponda

    Pardon, I used this recipe before but it’s been a while so I wanted to check before using it again… and the recipe is nowhere to be seen on the post. I reloaded it – same problem. Is it my computer or is it the post? Either way, I love this method and I want it back! 🙁 Please and thank you!

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