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We’ve All Been Making Rice Wrong — Starting With the First Step

Have you ever waited anxiously for a pot of rice to cook only to find a mushy, sticky mess sitting there when you lift the lid? It can be so disappointing after all your prep for a perfect meal. Luckily, there’s an easy way to prevent this from happening.

If you look on the back of your bag of rice, you’ll probably notice a step most of us skip at the very start: rinsing the grains. It might seem pointless since you’ll be tossing them in water anyway, but it really does serve an important purpose. 

According to the experts at Cook’s Illustrated, simply rinsing your rice before you cook it is the best way to achieve distinct, individual grains instead one big lump. Giving them a quick bath helps to get rid of any excess starch that can cause that unwanted gummy texture. 

You can either swish the rice around in a bowl of cold water before carefully pouring the water out (making sure no grains slip away with it!), or invest in a fine mesh strainer to hold under running water to get the job done. There’s plenty of budget friendly options, like Cuisinart’s set of three sizes ($12.99, Amazon). 

For those who are skeptical, our Head of Editorial here at FIRST vouched for it as part of the traditional Persian method for cooking rice that she learned growing up. In fact, her family washes the rice at least five times before putting it in a pot to boil! Samin Nosrat, chef and author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking ($20.99, Amazon), backs this technique up with her “Persian-ish” rice recipe. If you’ve read the book or watched her Netflix series that expands on it, you know Nosrat wouldn’t steer anyone wrong. 

Of course, there are some rice recipes that call for a creamier texture, like risotto, or actually rely on the stickiness for things like sushi. In those cases, you shouldn’t bother with rinsing beforehand. Otherwise, try giving your grains a good wash next time rice is on the meal plan. Chances are, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much of a difference you see. 

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