The instructions for cooking nearly every type of rice start off the same way — thoroughly rinse rice under cool water before cooking. While I'm generally not one to cut corners, I've always taken this step as more of a suggestion than a requirement. A suggestion that, until recently, I've been quick to dismiss and skip over.
I simply didn't believe rinsing was a necessary step. I didn't believe this extra task would affect the way the rice cooked or the final outcome. Sound familiar? Surely I'm not the only one who's chosen to gloss over this simple step.
So what happened to change my mind? The frustration of yet another pot of gummy rice that all too easily clumped together got me thinking that perhaps there really was something to rinsing. So I gave it a try.
One Extra Step That's Worth the Effort
Turns out this one simple step is important and really does make a big difference — especially with long-grain varieties. Yes, rinsing your rice first adds another step to the cooking process, and it means adding a strainer or bowl to the pile of dirty dishes, but your efforts will be rewarded with a better pot of rice. Rinsing the rice removes any debris, and most importantly, it removes the surface starch that otherwise causes the rice to clump together or get gummy as it cooks.
You can use a bowl or a strainer to rinse your rice. The method isn't as important as simply doing it. And while you should be rinsing rice thoroughly, you don't need to worry about keeping at it until the water runs clear. At the start of rinsing the water may appear very cloudy, depending on the type of rice, and while the murkiness will subside, the water won't likely run perfectly clear.
What you'll get in return is a pot of cooked rice that's fluffy and far less likely to clump together.