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How come we don't salt japanese/korean rice? or do you?

I was wondering why you never read instructions to add a pinch of salt to short grain rice when cooking, and wanted to know if it is because it is generally cooked in the rice cooker, or because of the flavor? I know it doesn't really matter..... right? Looking to be educated... yet again!

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  1. Because the accompanying food is usually seasoned with soy sauce, which is salty?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Channa

      hmmm but basmati rice is usually eaten with curries, which are salty, no?

    2. I do. Rice without salt just taste too bland.

      1. Your question got me thinking. I consulted my favorite Asian cookbook: Essentials of Asian Cuisine by Connie Trang. This book really transformed my Asian cooking and I highly recommend it! She goes in depth about rice, different kinds and how they are prepared in different regions. I could not find any reference by her to salt the water. Not in her educational sections or recipes. I know that does not answer your question “why”.

        By the way, using a rice cooker is not Ms. Trang’s preferred method of cooking rice. She states, “In my opinion, the rice cooker makes dry rice, especially when the cooker has a warming cycle…” She likes to use a Chinese clay pot. Probably not a common thing found in kitchens.

        I always cook rice in a “regular” pot and don’t use a rice cooker. And, I will add a teaspoon or so of soy sauce in with the water and rice. I do this especially when I make fried rice. I like the taste better this way than adding soy sauce afterward.

        3 Replies
        1. re: EvZE

          that's a great idea about the soy sauce. Everyone says to season every step of the way, and that would season rice straight off. I am far too lazy to wean myself off my electric rice cooker. I did try to add salt once to the rice cooker and my grandmother smacked my hand like it was some kind of heresy, so curious as to other people's habits. I just don't know any asian people who salt their short grain rice.

          1. re: aforkcalledspoon

            But it may be salted after cooking, for example the salt-sugar-vinegar mixture that is added to sushi rice, or the salt water that used when forming onigiri.

          2. re: EvZE

            Re the rice cooker yielding dry rice. I have a 25 year old japanese model electric rice cooker that takes water in the main pot with the rice and then water in the outer chamber. I always add way more water than called for in the outer chamber so that the extra moisture contributes more steam to the process. My short grained rice always turns out very moist and delicious. I never use the warming feature; always too eager to eat it!

            I prepare long grained rice in a regular sauce pan; I just like the way it turns out better.

          3. If it's plain rice, I never salt -- be they Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Indian, American, Spanish, etc.

            1. No need for the salt.

              Salt and/or butter to good quality steamed rice makes me cry. Don't even bring that soy sauce bottle near. I will slap it out of your hand.

              Good rice is sweet and has a fragrance of its own. It needs no other help. It's meant to be filler and a foil for stronger flavored dishes.

              I can't bring myself to mess with such simplicity.

              5 Replies
                1. re: fuuchan

                  'slap it out of yourhand'
                  Love that!
                  I would never thingof putting salt on my JAsmine rice either.

                  1. re: fuuchan

                    I 100% agree with fuuchan. It is a shame when good rice is spoiled by soy sauce!

                    1. re: CreativeFoodie42

                      We had a lovely thread some years ago in which a Korean American girl worried about the bad impression her American boyfriend was making on her relatives when he put soy sauce on the rice. :)

                    2. re: fuuchan

                      Another agree here! I researched great rice brands and bought one at our local Korean market and it was life changing. Great rice is so lovely and almost creamy. Not to mention it stays soft and supple even when cooled. So good!

                    3. I once attended a Japanese cooking class with Elizabeth Andoh and I asked the same question. She replied that adding salt during cooking would toughen the rice.

                      I've never found that I missed the salt when eating rice in an Asian context. But Western pliafs, risotti, paellas, etc. would seem terribly bland without it

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: btnfood

                        I guess that is what puzzles me. I agree that I don't miss it in the asian context, but can't eat the others without it, and I just don't relaly understand why that is! Is it because the short grain rice is sweeter?

                        1. re: aforkcalledspoon

                          When plain white rice is served, particularly aromatic rice like jasmine or basmati, it doesn't need salt. The flavor is carried ably by the fragrant rice. When rice is seasoned, as in risotto, pilaf or biryani, salt heightens the other flavors, and so you will find salt in western contexts that are adding something to the rice base.

                      2. You don't. Salting rice is this weird Western thing.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: pepper_mil

                          Middle Eastern thing also. Rice can be eaten as a side dish it is so flavorful.

                          1. re: scubadoo97

                            Typical of India as well. It is often cooked with whole spices.

                        2. As far as short grain Japanese rice goes, no I don't salt it. Wouldn't even consider it.

                          However for long grain white rice, generally steam cook it in broth, usually chicken broth and as well may add a pat of butter. Both which are salted and the rice is never comes out dry. Gotta have me some flavor to long grain white rice. Broth, butter and herbs can really boost the flavor. Without it, it's like cooking potatoes and not adding any type of seasoning or flavoring. And that is just 'bad eats" in both cases.

                          1. Overall, Asians who grow up eating rice like the flavor of rice and don't needd salt. Hakujins who come to rice late in life may prefer salt.

                            I (obviously) grew up eating Japanese food and rice. We don't ever salt the rice - either in cooking or after serving. The rice has its own flavor, the food, which should not be salty, has its own. Lao sticky rice would be terrible with salt. The fragant Jasmines and Basmatis would be ruiined. But I've lived a combined almost 40 years in Asia and Latin America: people in the Philippines and Colombia add salt and oil to rice while cooking. These high yielding Indicas aren'treally harmed using salt.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                              Where in the Philippines were you? I've never heard of our rice being salted unless it was something like Sinangag (garlic fried rice) or Arroz a la Valenciana (chicken and rice). If a Filipino salted their rice then they surely committed heresy!

                              1. re: emmisme

                                Nakatira ako sa Los Banos, Laguna, mga 14 taon.

                            2. This is about authenticity. Charmaine Solomon covers it well in each chapter of "Complete Asion Cookbook". In India, Pakistan, Burma and Sri Lanka the rice is salted BUT in Malaysia, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and China the rice is NOT salted. There is a lot of other information as well on the type and preparation of rice for each area. So - if your aim is to produce an authentic dish then I suggest you salt or not according to the custom of the country.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: knet

                                I've eaten a lot of un-salted rice in India, Pakistan, and Burma.

                                I cook my rice in an almost 100 year old rice pot from Japan.

                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                  I can't speak to the accuracy of the Charmaine Solomon book but that's the information she gives. I prefer unsalted and right now I am coveting your rice pot! What is it made of?

                                2. re: knet

                                  Neither my South Asian father nor my Southeast Asian mother salted plain rice.

                                3. I have tried adding dashes of different spices to my rice over the years - always went back to the plain version. If you have good rice to start with, go with it. Like the others stated, you can always add spice or sauce later. I am currently partial to a Koda brand kokuho rice grown locally in Central California, a great everyday value.

                                  I have a 25 year old rice cooker that still puts out a wonderful pot. I have been trying to retire it so I can use my new Zojirushi, but it keeps on going.

                                  1. Salting rice? No thanks...I'll pass. =)

                                    1. I don't know, but my guess as to why salt is not added is that salted water boils at a higher temperature than unsalted water, so the length of time to reach a boil would definitely be longer. The length of time for the water to evaporate might be longer as well, though I don't know for sure. Adding salt probably yields a (much?) different result.

                                      I am guessing that rice cookers cook rice the same way I would cook rice in a pot on the stove: bring the rice/water to a boil and boil until most of the water has evapoarted, then turn the heat down to a tiny simmer, or even turn off the heat, cover the rice and let it sit to complete the cooking.

                                      I suspect that rice cookers work by relying on the fact that water boils around 100'C. As soon as all water has evaporated, the temperature of the rice/water mix would go up. When the rice cooker senses this rise in temperature, it reduces the heat to "simmer". Adding salt would mess this up as the length of time to bring to a boil, and maybe the length of time to boil to almost-dry, are different.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: aqn

                                        ... or it just taste better without the salt.