Serves 4

Steaming rice the Chinese way is the simple, direct and efficacious technique. I prefer to use long-grain white rice which is drier and fluffier when cooked. Don't use pre-cooked or 'easy-cook' rice for Chinese cookery as both these types of rice have insufficient flavour and lack the texture and starchy taste which is fundamental to Chinese rice.

The secret of preparing rice without it being sticky is to cook it first in an uncovered pot at a high heat until most of the water has evaporated. Then the heat should be turned very low, the pot covered and the rice cooked slowly in the remaining steam. As a child I was always instructed never to peek into the rice pot during this stage or else precious steam would escape and the rice would not be cooked properly thus bringing bad luck.

Here is a good trick to remember: if you make sure that you cover the rice with about 2.5 cm (1 in) of water it should always cook properly without sticking. Many packet recipes for rice use too much water and result in a gluey mess. Follow my method and you will have perfect steamed rice, the easy Chinese way.

Most Chinese eat quite large quantities of rice (about 150 g (5 oz) per head which is more than many Westerners are able to manage). This recipe and that for Fried Rice allows about 375 g (13 oz) (dried weight) of rice for 4 people. If you want more than that just increase the quantity of rice, but remember to add enough water so that the level of water is about 2.5 cm (1 inch) above the top of the rice.

For the most authentic Chinese cooking, the required rice is simple long-grain rice, of which there are many varieties and all are very good. A few rules worth repeating in regard to long-grain rice:

? The water should be at a level 2.5 cm (1 in) above the surface of the rice; too much water means gummy rice. Recipes on commercial packages generally recommend too much water.

? Never uncover the pot once the simmering process has begun; time the process and wait.

? Follow the directions below and you are on your way to perfect rice.

Ingredients

  • Enough long-grain rice to fill a glass measuring jug to 400 ml (14 fl oz) level
  • 600 ml (1 pint) water
  • Method1. Put the rice into a large bowl and wash it in several changes of water until the water becomes clear.2. Drain the rice and put it into a heavy pot with 600 ml (1½ pints) water and bring it to the boil. Continue boiling until most of the surface liquid has evaporated. This should take about 15 minutes. The surface of the rice should have small indentations like a pitted crater.3. At this point, cover the pot with a very tight-fitting lid, turn the heat as low as possible and let the rice cook undisturbed for 15 minutes. There is no need to 'fluff' the rice, let it rest for 5 minutes before serving it.