Tuesday, April 16, 2024

DO WE NEED TO WASH RICE BEFORE COOKING IT?

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Is washing rice an unnecessary chore in cooking, or is it a necessary step to maintain our health?

A recent trip to Vietnam made me realize the value of rice to the peoples of Asia. In fact, in Vietnamese cuisine – as in other cuisines of the world – rice forms the basis of almost every meal, and it is very likely that you will see the locals even starting their day with it.

At the same time, a very large percentage of people worldwide use rice as an ingredient in cooking , in many different ways. Even in Greek cuisine, it has its place of honor, since it is found in everything from the summer tomato rice to the classic egg-lemon chicken soup.

Why do we wash raw rice?

A question that comes up again and again is whether we should wash rice before cooking it. First let’s say that washing raw rice reduces the amount of starch that comes from its grains – proof of the cloudy water caused when we rinse the food.

 

rice

Unsplash  Pille R. Priske

 

Whether or not one washes rice depends on several factors , such as the variety, traditions, or local health warnings. Of course, opinions often differ. Many chefs choose to wash the rice with water when they are going to use it in recipes that call for a separated grain.

However, one study showed that the washing process had no effect on the sticky (or hard) state of the rice, instead what played a role in how sticky the final result would be was the variety.

In addition, for dishes where starch is essential, such as risotto or Spanish paella (dishes in which we want a sticky, creamy effect), washing is avoided by professionals .

 

rice

Pexels  Mart Production

 

Washing for health reasons

Many times we wash the rice in order to remove any dust , insects , small stones and the pieces of the husk that are left from the peeling process. If we also take into account the unwanted entry of microplastics into our lives and diet (yes, they have also been found in rice), then we have another good reason to put food under running water, since it has been proven that  washing can clean up to and 20% of plastics from uncooked rice.

However, rice washing cannot guarantee everything. That is, if you are hoping that this will kill any bacteria, then you are wrong. Experts argue that washing has no effect on the bacterial content of cooked rice, as high cooking temperatures kill any bacteria that may be present anyway.

Just remember that dangerous bacteria can grow if you keep washed or cooked rice at room temperature for many hours. That is why it is considered one of the foods that should never be left out of the refrigerator .

 

rice

iStock

 

One more reason

You may also have heard that washing rice helps reduce the intake of arsenic , a heavy metal that the food can absorb from the water of the flooded fields in which it is grown.

A study has shown that washing can remove about 90% of bio-available arsenic, but it also removes a large amount of other nutrients important to our health, including copper, iron, zinc and vanadium. If, of course, rice provides your diet with a small percentage of the daily intake of these nutrients, do not be afraid to wash it as you will not be significantly affected by their loss.

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