From The Straits Times    |
12 surprising tips to cook perfect fluffy rice and smooth congee

12 surprising tips to cook perfect fluffy rice and smooth congee



Freeze the rice: Put a bag of rice that has been rinsed (not soaked) into the freezer and leave it overnight. This helps to soften the rice and help reduce cooking time. The cold from the freezing process will help to break down the carbohydrates thus leaving you with a less starchy consistency.

For a healthier congee: 

  • Substitute white rice with brown rice: Soak brown rice in hot water for 20 mins before following the same freezing process. Unlike white rice, brown rice needs an additional step of soaking as it requires more time for it to break down and become softer.
  • Add rolled oats: Oats are good for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels. For every cup of rice, use ½ cup of rolled oats. Soak the oats in hot water first for approximately half an hour before cooking it together with the rice.
  • Enhance flavours with Chinese mushrooms and dried scallops: Mushrooms contain natural amino acids. Soak dried mushrooms in hot water for 20mins to seal in these natural nutrients before adding to cooked porridge mixture. Dried scallops contain sea salt, which helps to add flavour into the congee without needing extra salt. Grill the scallops in a pan till sea salt emerges on the scallop surface before adding to porridge.
  • Include kale: Kale is rich in anti-oxidant and contains vitamins E, D and K. It is also good for eyesight and helps to prevent age-related eye diseases like cataracts. Blanch kale in hot water to activate the folic acid in the vegetables. Wash it in cold water and then blend till liquid form. Add to porridge. This will give a gentle green colouring to your congee. You can also choose to microwave kale leaves for 2 mins (or longer if necessary) till it becomes crispy. Sprinkle it at the top of your porridge.


Soak rice in water: Soak the rice for 10 mins after rinsing. This helps to remove starch, making the rice less sticky and fluffier. This will also help to reduce the time needed to cook it. 

Use warm/hot water: Add warm/hot water rather than room temperature water to your rice (with the ratio of 1 cup of water to 1 cup of rice) as it will help to decrease cooking time.

Don’t stir: Never stir your rice during the cooking process as it will make your rice gloppy.


Add pandan leaves: Wash and dry the pandan leaves. Knot them individually before placing it with your rice and water mixture. For every 1 cup of rice, use 1 pandan leaf. Pandan is a good source of folic acid and contains anti-oxidant properties.

Use coconut oil: Add 1tbsp of coconut oil for every cup of rice. Add more if you want your rice to be more fragrant. Coconut oil is a healthier substitute for coconut milk. The latter usually comes with a higher fat content and also contains lauric acid, which is not good for the heart. If you are using coconut oil (you can purchase them in organic or specialty stores), make sure you pick those that are free from lauric acid.

Otherwise, use packet coconut milk rather than fresh: Rice cooked with fresh coconut milk will not be able to last very long. For every packet of coconut milk (200ml), mix it first with 1 cup of hot water before pouring it into the rice and water mixture. Mixing hot water with coconut milk first will break down the lauric acid and potassium contents in the coconut milk, both of which affect cooking temperature. Use 1 packet of coconut milk for every 4 cups of rice.

BONUS TIP: In need of more potassium in your nasi lemak? Add cut cucumber pieces with the uncooked rice. During the cooking process, potassium nutrients from the vegetable get released into the rice.