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Engineering modernist rice


Fat Guy
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I was contemplating some sticky rice from a Thai restaurant yesterday and it got me thinking: surely it is possible, using some food additive or another, to make el-cheapo long-grain white rice behave like sticky rice. Or it should be possible to make brown sticky rice. Or get regular short-grain rice to behave like Arborio. Has anybody worked on this? Should we work on it?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Well, since all of the rices you mention are readily available, wouldn't it be more troublesome to use additives and other molecular alterations, rather than just buy the real stuff?

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Cooking sticky rice and risotto can be labor-intensive. It would be a lot easier to make a batch of regular rice, add a few drops of something and -- poof -- it's sticky rice.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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You're dealing with rices with varying amounts of amylopectin and amylose throughout their structure. It would have to be some chemical that changed these starches all the way through each grain. It's easier and cheaper to understand how each type of rice reacts to cooking, cooling and reheating.

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Medium and short grain rices cook without any labor intensive efforts if you use a a rice cooker. Medium grain rich can be used in place of short grain btw. Even if you don't have a rice cooker, just making them isn't any more trouble that long grain rice cooked in a sauce pan with a lid.

Edited by Norm Matthews (log)
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I agree with Lisa. You might not be able to change the amylose into amylopectin, but you might be able to add amylopectin to long grain rices to get the sticky effect. To achieve the opposite effect, you might be able to apply the starch setting practice used to contain the sticky stuff in potatoes and help prevent the amylopectin from making sticky rice sticky, and without adding anything to the rice chemically.

Edited by Jeffery C (log)
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Medium and short grain rices cook without any labor intensive efforts if you use a a rice cooker. Medium grain rich can be used in place of short grain btw. Even if you don't have a rice cooker, just making them isn't any more trouble that long grain rice cooked in a sauce pan with a lid.

Exactly, and it works with the simplest rice cooker, no fuzzy logic or settings other than "on" and "warm" required. Use a sticky short grain rice, and it comes out sticky.

If you want to make another kind of rice sticky, you can add short grain sushi rice to it, and it will increase the stickiness.

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Ive been using a Rice cooker for years, after seeing the book "Ultimate Rice cooker cookbook" by Beth Hensperger in the library.

I really didnt know anything about them, and the fuzzy ones make "one pot" risotto perfectly with no work at all. i make paella just as outlined in this book and its as good as any ive had in Spain, where I lived while growing up for 2 years. you just get the proper rice from Spain, and its available.

it has several recipes for sticky rice. based on all the recipes from the book Ive tried I bet it works fine. I have not tried them. but now I will!

anybody that loves rice should look at this book and consider a fuzzy logic machine. id recommend the 10 cup not because your will make 10 cups of rice, but the extra room allows you to mix in the pot your 'add on' with no muss or fuss.

these machines also work effortlessly for recipes with milk. no stirring, no scorching: Rolled oats, rice pudding etc

but I like the idea someone is thinking outside the box.!

(of rice)

Edited by rotuts (log)
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I think the phrase "sticky rice" tends to be used in two ways. If you're just talking about rice that's a little sticky, like Japanese-style short-grain rice, that's one thing. But Thai-style sticky rice doesn't really happen in a rice cooker. It requires long steaming in those basket things. Thus, I never make it, even though I love it.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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The risotto table in MC hints at this idea. For grains that don't elute enough sauce-thickening amylopectin, they simply instruct you to add a thickener to compensate.

In general, it's not too hard to make rice stickier or creamier. But the starch content not only affects the sauce, but also the texture of the rice grains themselves. So unless you can get you added starches into the grains of rice, I doubt you'll get an acceptable engineered substitute.

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But Thai-style sticky rice doesn't really happen in a rice cooker. It requires long steaming in those basket things. Thus, I never make it, even though I love it.

I too have never made it, but the internet suggests that if you soak the rice beforehand, steaming only takes 20-30 minutes.

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very interesting!

I looked more deeply in the the Ultimate Rice Cooker book and it indeed stated that you take the sticky rice and put in in a basket in an On/Off rice cooker.

they refer in that book to:

The Japanese Kitchen Hiroko Shimbo

cheers!

Id scan the pages but do not know how to post them here!

stop by your local bookstore and consider looking at this book

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But Thai-style sticky rice doesn't really happen in a rice cooker. It requires long steaming in those basket things. Thus, I never make it, even though I love it.

I too have never made it, but the internet suggests that if you soak the rice beforehand, steaming only takes 20-30 minutes.

This definitely works. I do the pre-soak/steam sometimes when making biko (filipino coconut rice treat) and usually add a few pandan leaves in the soaking water.

"The main thing to remember about Italian food is that when you put your groceries in the car, the quality of your dinner has already been decided." – Mario Batali
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I think part of the reason we're not getting a lot closer is because the differences that you're looking for are ones that have already been done by plant breeders. We've MADE sticky rice, short grain rice, long grain rice, etc--we just did it with selective breeding instead of with ingredients. By contrast, we haven't bred cows to make milk with the right emulsifiers to make processed cheese without additives.

I think if you want to think more about "modernist" whatever, you have to think about getting new or better results, not just the same thing a different way.

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But Thai-style sticky rice doesn't really happen in a rice cooker. It requires long steaming in those basket things. Thus, I never make it, even though I love it.

I too have never made it, but the internet suggests that if you soak the rice beforehand, steaming only takes 20-30 minutes.

I make Thai style sticky rice from time to time during mango season for mango/sticky rice... I had a thai cooking teacher in Chiang Mai send me instructions which are just what emannths said: soak glutinous rice overnight, drain. Then steam 25-30 minutes. I usually use my rice cooker as a steamer (it has a steaming basket taht I just cover with cheesecloth) when doing the steaming part for convenience. Comes out great every time. She gave me much more detailed information depending on the age of the rice, moisture content, etc. (whcih determines soaking time) but basically all the sticky rice we get here is the same... old. It's not like over there where you can go to teh market and see the rice vendor with 1 mo., 3 mo, 6 mo, etc... ages of different types of rice.

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IMX with ordinary long grain rice, stirring it while cooking tends to make it stickier. I've also noticed that long grain cooked with more water tends to be a bit more sticky. I'm sure there are limits to how sticky or not a given type of rice can be made, but I think there are at least some variables to play with. So I'd say if you're interested in getting sticky rice, it's at least worth experimenting.

Dick in Northbrook, IL

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I would like to point out that some rice recipes do use a bit of science to manipulate texture in the opposite direction; making the rice have more of the firm characteristics of very long grain rice. A good example would be Persian steamed rice where vinegar is added to the first stage of cooking before the steaming. (My go-to recipe is Madhur Jaffrey's World-of-the-East Vegetarian Cooking. -Or Persian crusted rice, to which many cooks add yogurt, which is acidic.

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Hmm, someone mate a really tasty dinner roll that turned out to have been made using chemistry to copy the result of good flour, kneading, yeast, rising, etc. That wasnt a hit, as I recall. Why fake the rice?

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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