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Jasmine Rice / kao hohm mali Real Thai: Basic Recipes, page 164

This is where Thai food begins: a pot of long grain rice, ready to be cooked with water and nothing else. No salt, no butter, no herbs, no spices. Thai rice stands on its own, simple and elemental, satisfying to body and spirit. Almost every home-cooked meal I enjoyed in Thailand began with full plates mounded high with rice, served up and passed around to everyone eating that meal. Unlike bread or potatoes or rice here at home, rice is the meal, and the array of dishes provided along with it are the accompaniments, the enhancements to the substantial, comforting plates of rice. Rice in Thai is ‘kao‘, and the entrees, or dishes, or courses that make up the meal in a Western way of thinking about food are ‘gahp kao‘, meaning ‘with-rice’. Curry, soup, omelet, pickled treats, fiery sauces with raw vegetables, stir-fried greens — each and everything else within the meal is ‘gahp kao‘. Jasmine rice is a particular strain of long-grain rice, naturally imbued with a subtle nutty, toasted aroma which lightly perfumes the kitchen shortly before the rice is ready. Jasmine rice is costlier than ordinary long-grain rice, but the cooking method is the same. I love rice cookers and use mine often; but it’s good to develop the skill of cooking a good pot of rice. Most of my posts here on Nancie’sRealThai2012 will be finished dishes; but rice is so important, I wanted to ‘walk you through’ the process.

Rinse the rice well in cool water and then drain it well.

Imagine drawing water from a well; you'd use it carefully, right? My neighbors taught me to make good use of the water left after rinsing the raw rice, for watering plants or garden, feeding ducks, soaking dishes, etc.

Add water to cover the rice by about an inch. Thai cooks measure by placing a hand palm-down on the surface of the rice such that water reaches the knuckles.

Bring it to a lively boil, stirring well now and then.

Let the water cook down to just below the surface of the plumped-up grains.

Lower the heat, cover the pot, and let the rice finish cooking gently, about 20 minutes.

Uncover the rice and gently stir it up to encourage the grains to separate rather than cling together. Serve it hot, warm, or at room temperature.

You'll find these rice serving bowls in Asian markets, modeled on traditional ones made of hammered silver.

Serve everyone a good plate of rice, accompanied with a spoon and a small dish of 'nahm plah prik', fish sauce with hot chilies on the side. Then it's time to holler "chuen ma kin kao!", or 'Come eat rice!'