Cooking rice seems relatively straightforward until you find yourself with one of many common rice-cooking mishaps: mushy rice or sticky rice.
What happened? Why did your rice end up ruined?
There are actually a few reasons why your cooked rice turned out sticky and unsatisfactory, and this article will teach you why.
The best part is that it also teaches you how to fix sticky or mushy rice – so you are left with a beautiful bowl of steamed rice cooked to perfection.
Why Is My Rice Sticky? 5 Common Reasons
Cooking rice seems easy enough – right? You boil the water, add the white or brown rice, and cook over medium heat until all the water is absorbed.
Easy-peasy! Or so you thought.
Many things can go wrong during the cooking process, with one of the most prominent issues being sticky rice. Here’s why it might be happening to you.
1. You Didn’t Rinse the Rice
Uncooked rice grains are coated with a starchy substance that blooms the second it makes contact with boiling water.
As the rice begins to bloom, the rice comes in contact with each other, forming a bond – otherwise known as the unbearable sticky clumps riddled through your cooked rice.
2. You Didn’t Let Your Rice Rest
No, your rice isn’t lazy. It requires a resting period so the moisture can redistribute correctly, leading to perfectly cooked rice.
Without the crucial resting period, you will likely end up with sticky and unevenly cooked rice.
3. You Overcooked the Rice
Have you ever tried to eat undercooked rice?
It’s like trying to eat a brick. On the other hand, overcooked rice is like consuming mush. And if your goal wasn’t to make rice pudding, this will be tremendously off-putting.
4. There Wasn’t Enough/Too Much Water
Cooking time isn’t the only thing to pay attention to; you must also consider the ratios you use.
Too little or too much water can be detrimental to your rice, whether you’re whipping up a batch of white rice to go with a slab of salmon or want fried rice to pair with orange chicken.
5. You Stirred It
Did you know that your pot of rice may be sticky or mushy because you stirred it? That’s right – rice isn’t like other dishes. Stirring will activate the starch, causing mushiness.
How To Fix Sticky or Mushy Rice
If your rice keeps coming out mushy, sticky, and other inedible, don’t panic – there are a few ways to fix it. It might not be “perfect,” but at least you won’t have to redo the whole batch.
1. Add a Fat
Adding fat to mushy rice may seem counterproductive, but many people swear by it.
The added fat – such as ghee or butter – can fix mushy rice by greasing up the grains and allowing them to separate.
2. Place it in the Fridge
Another option is to place the pot of rice in the refrigerator. The cold will help soggy rice to firm up a tad, leaving you with a better texture.
3. Dry it in the Oven
Did you know you can cook rice in the oven at low heat to help it firm up?
It’s super simple and works for any type of rice, including short-grain white rice and long-grain white rice.
Simply place the gummy rice on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at low heat (350F) for about ten minutes.
Avoid using high heat, as this can cause the rice to burn.
4. Drain and Rinse with Cold Water
Sometimes, the easiest way to fix clumpy rice is to drain it in a fine mesh strainer and rinse it with cold water.
The water will remove any excess starch that may be causing the glutinous rice.
How To Prevent Rice From Sticking
It’s always better to prevent issues like mushy rice, undercooked rice, and crunchy rice before the problems arise. That said, here are a few tips to avoid future mishaps.
1. Use a Rice Cooker
Perhaps the best way to cook the rice is in a rice cooker.
Rice cookers work like magic for any type of rice, whether you want fried rice or steamed rice.
Cooking the rice in the rice cooker makes your life easier. It will ensure that your grains are cooked to perfection without any ifs, ands, or buts on your behalf.
Simply add your grains to the large bowl, set the function, and viola!
2. Always Rinse
Always rinse your grains before making rice. It’s best to soak for a while (up to 24 hours) before using, if possible.
This will ensure no extra starch stands in the way of your perfectly-cooked rice.
3. Let it Rest
Although it might seem like this is a waste of time, it is critical to allow your rice to rest after cooking. Let it rest for about ten minutes before fluffing.
Place a towel over your rice bowl to soak up any excess water while allowing the excess moisture to redistribute correctly.
4. Cook it Correctly with the Right Ratios
If you want to fix mushy rice for good, always ensure you’re using the correct ratios of water and rice. Cook for the recommended amount of time.
5. Avoid Stirring
It may be tempting to stir your pot of rice while it’s cooking, but you’ll be doing yourself a huge disservice. Avoid stirring until it’s cooked, rested, and cooled!
Does Rinsing Rice Make It Less Sticky?
Some people may fear rinsing their rice as they’re afraid it will cause excess water, causing the rice dish to come out subpar. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Rinsing your rice before cooking will ensure that there isn’t too much starch, which would otherwise bloom and stick together once it touches the boiling pot of water.