Rice has been used across the world. While a few regions include it as a staple in their local diet, others use it sparingly. Like the staggering rice varieties, even the cooking process follows a wide range of methods and cookware. Using a utensil like a pot, a big vessel, a pressure cooker, or a rice cooker is prevalent. But are you aware of cooking rice in a bamboo basket? This ritual primarily belongs to Thailand; hence, the device is also called a Thai bamboo rice steamer or basket. What is unique about it? The rice cooked in this process becomes fluffier and develops a rustic fragrance. Do you wish to give it a try? Then scroll down to get all the information about it.

An ancient process

Thai cooks have been employing a conical bamboo basket to steam rice for hundreds of years. It is among the array of other instruments used to cook some traditional recipes. Bamboo baskets are ideal for cooking sticky rice, sometimes known as glutinous rice or sweet rice.

What is it used for?

Cooking red rice in bamboo steamer, Image Source: Bigstock

As mentioned, these baskets or steamers are preferred for cooking sticky rice. This rice variety is widely consumed in Japan, China, Laos, Thailand, and India. You can eat it with chopsticks because it has a sticky, glue-like texture, as the name would imply. One can also try cooking jasmine rice. 

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Acing the process

Glutinous rice is naturally quite starchy. Needless to say, once boiled, it becomes mushy. To avoid getting lumpy, one must use the steam from the water rather than drop the rice right into boiling water. Bamboo baskets are meant to help you to get the job done effortlessly. 

Checking the rice, Image Source: YouTube

Before you get to the cooking process, begin by thoroughly rinsing the rice. Soak it for about half an hour in warm water. Now equally distribute the rice on the bamboo basket, lay it over a suitable vessel, close the lid, and let it steam cook for 10 minutes. Then transfer the rice to a regular pot and add a small amount of boiling water to re-soak the rice. Instead of thoroughly cooking the rice, the aim is to soften it.

At this stage, the rice should be cooked yet retain its firmness. However, if you observe that the rice developed the required chewiness but some amount of water is still in the pot, drain it before placing it back in the basket. After another 8 to 10 minutes of steaming, the rice is done. 

Bamboo steamer to cook sticky rice, Image Source: bangkokpost.com 

A few handy tips

Often the challenge is deciding about the perfect rice and water ratio. Keep in mind that the rice-to-water ratio cannot be measured. By keeping a few things in mind, you can do it effortlessly. 

  • Pour the rinsed rice into the saucepan and cover with water until it reaches your first knuckle. It works pretty well.
  • Consider it 1 portion of rice to 1 and half a cup of water to evaporate. If your rice becomes hard or uncooked, add extra water and continue cooking. 
  • Unfortunately, if you start out by pouring water excessively, your rice will get mushy, and there won't be much you can do to salvage it.
  • The cooked grains can be gently separated or fluffed using chopsticks or a fork without needing a separate rice fluffer; just wait until all the steam has evaporated.