Do you have to soak or rinse rice before cooking??Healthy Living
I HATE soaking rice before I cook it; yet, I know it is a necessary step to making the perfect basmati rice and other long grain rices. Soaking rice has been done for thousands of years in both Asian and Mediterranean cultures. I remember “the soaking rice” in both my mother and grandmother’s kitchens. But, I really never researched WHY it is done until now and decided to share it with all of you.
Rinsing and soaking are two completely different processes for rice cooking.
Rinsing is traditionally used for “cleaning” the rice. It is best used when the rice contains impurities such as talc, dirt, bugs, and polishing powders. Depending upon the country of origin, the rice may have heaps to no impurities. Some people rinse the rice in place of soaking, but many experts argue that rinsing is not a substitute for soaking.
Soaking rice is part of the actual cooking process. Some recipes and certain types of rice MUST be soaked. Soaking the rice reduces phytic acid (a naturally occurring chemical that may affect mineral absorption in people who eat rice). Phytic acid is sometimes referred to as an “anti-nutrient” because it may actually bind to certain minerals that you eat at the same time with the rice such as iron, calcium, copper and zinc. Phytic acid prevents their absorption. Soaking the rice can increase the bioavailability of the minerals in the rice and what you are eating with it. Soaking rice also makes it lighter in texture, and reduces cooking time. Finally, soaking helps remove impurities that may have been absorbed onto the surface layer of rice during processing, transportation, and/or storage.
But is it worth the extra work and trouble to soak your rice?? Nutrition-wise I would say maybe…but from a cooking perspective I would say definitely yes!!! Rice is probably not your primary source of calcium, iron, copper and zinc in general. You can obtain all of those minerals from dairy products or vegetables. Mineral deficiencies from excess phytic acid are more common in people from developing countries and in people who eat a very large amount of beans, nuts and unprocessed grains every meal (and avoid meat and dairy). However, in terms of cooking, if you would like the perfect, fluffy long grain rice….soaking it is the way to go!!
Finally, the type of rice definitely plays a role, and enriched white rice should NOT be rinsed or soaked. That is because the rice grains are dusted with a nutrient rich powder which is easily washed away with rinsing or soaking. About 70% of the rice used in the US is enriched so be sure to check the label.
I am still going to continue the tradition of soaking my rice before I cook it. Do you soak your rice?? If not, would you be interested in trying it?