There are quite a few handy rice upgrades to lean on when you want to up the flavor of rice, like toasting the grains or cooking with stock — all of which are effective and useful. But what you do when you want to change the texture of your rice? Perhaps so it shares the characteristics of ramen?
Yep — you can do that too.
Here's How to Make It Happen
The secret to cooking rice like ramen is alkaline water, which can be achieved by creating a solution of water and baking soda. This alkaline environment encourages more water absorption and breakdown of starches, all the while increasing strength and elasticity of the grain.
1 cup rice + 1 teaspoon baking soda + 1/2 teaspoon salt
Start by soaking the rice (any variety) in a large bowl of water, along with two parts baking soda and one part salt, for ninety minutes. Drain and thoroughly rinse the rice while a pot of water comes to a boil. Cook the rice like it's pasta, but do keep a close eye on it. The total cook time will vary depending on the type of rice you use, coming in somewhere between three and 10 minutes.
The Texture Shift
This process gives you a pot of rice with a serious texture upgrade that you can't achieve with the traditional cooking method alone.
A few signature traits of ramen noodles are their springy, elastic texture and soft yet chewy bite. They have a distinct shape and don't cling together, as you might find with pasta and even most rice.
So what does this mean for your rice? Instead of grains that cook up al dente and might be extra starchy and sticky or clump together, cooking your rice like ramen produces a result that's springy and soft without being mushy, and has a good chew. You'll also end up with distinct grains of rice that don't stick together or clump.
Put Your Ramen Rice to Work
The best thing about ramen rice is actually putting it to work and eating it. Yes, you can use it in place of noodles in your ramen soup, but there are also plenty of other ways to get it on the table. You can use this upgraded rice just about any and every way you'd use regular rice. Pair it with a stir-fry or curry, stuff it in a burrito, bulk up your salad, top it with an egg, or add it to a soup of your choice.