Cooking rice on the stove can be tricky, especially if you’re dealing with brown rice, which is easy to overcook or undercook. But with the right rice cooking accessories, you’ll find that you can prepare your favorite rice dishes, such as fluffy jasmine rice, easily and effortlessly. I’ve created a guide that includes many popular traditional accessories you can use to prep, serve, and cook rice easily, using utensils and cooking tools that have been utilized for decades.
First, we’ll begin with the rice paddles…
For most people, preparing rice seems to be a pretty straightforward process, especially when it comes to preparing sweet rice. One of the most difficult aspects of preparing rice is serving it since the rice can stick inside even the best rice cooker. Because of this, most cooks have wizened up and used a rice paddle. This is a versatile, handy rice tool that every cook should rely on when preparing rice. Using a basic spatula or spoon can make scooping and serving rice seem like a tedious process, especially if you’re serving sticky rice. When you attempt to serve rice using a regular serving spoon, you have to use your fingers or another utensil to scrape the rice off the first spoon. Shaking off the spoon will only result in rice flying everywhere.
Shamoji, also referred to as a rice paddle, will make the serving process much smoother. However, not every type of paddle has what it takes to allow you to serve up a large helping of rice quickly and smoothly. Plastic or bamboo rice paddles can be difficult to use if you don’t first dip the paddle in a small bowl of water before you attempt to serve.
If you regularly cook tougher types of rice, such as black, then you’ll also want to keep an eye out for a paddle labeled as a nonstick utensil. A nonstick paddle will have bumps and ridges all over the surface. This style is designed to reduce the tension on the surface of the utensil when you’re dealing with a type of rice that’s very thick and sticky. Most nonstick paddles are made out of plastic since a metal paddle can damage the surface of a nonstick pot in a rice cooker, or can even cut the rice grains, which can make your rice mushy.
Product Recommendation: Nomata 1150 Rice Paddle
If you’re looking for a rice paddle that actually works, I recommend the Nomata 1150 Rice Paddle. This package consists of two paddles, for the price of one. The paddles feature a nonstick surface, so they’re a great choice for glutenous rice and they won’t damage the surface of your nonstick pots and pans. One paddle measures in at seven and a half inches, with the second model measuring in at a little over six inches. Both paddles were made in Japan and are dishwasher safe.
Rice Washing Bowls
There has been some debate over the importance of rinsing rice before it’s placed in a rice cooker. Some cooks do, some cooks don’t, and others will or won’t depending on the type of rice they’re preparing. Using a rice washing bowl is a great option for those of you that do wash rice since it will prevent grains of rice from falling through the slots like they will with a typical strainer.
Rinsing rice is done to remove dirt and debris, which you can encounter with wild rice. But even regular rice should be rinsed in order to remove the surface starch. Too much starch can make the rice taste gummy and overcooked. Rinsing off the rice will get rid of a large percentage of starch, so you’ll enjoy rice that’s perfectly cooked and fluffy, which is exactly what you want. When you rinse off rice, you’ll place it in a washing bowl, which comes equipped with a fine mesh, instead of holes or slots. The mesh will prevent the loss of grains. When you’re washing, you’ll need to manipulate the rice using your hands, in order to help with the starch removal process. This should be done for approximately five minutes. After the rice has been properly rinsed, you’ll pour it into the rice cooker, directly from the washing bowl.
Product Recommendation- Inomata Japanese Rice Washing Bowl
If you’re looking for a durable rice washing bowl, then I recommend this latest model by Inomata. This model comes equipped with both bottom and side drainers, is easy to clean, and it’s made out of a tough food-grade plastic. It measures in at ten inches long, eleven inches wide, and five inches high. It’s designed specifically for washing rice, so you know the slots and mesh are small enough to prevent any grains from slipping down the drain. It’s also available at a reasonable price and can be used to wash other types of grains such as quinoa, or even your favorite veggies.
Rice Cleaning Tools
While I’ve already included a rice rinsing bowl and explained that it can be used to clean the rice and remove a high percentage of surface starch, there are other types of grains, including wild rice that will need more of a thorough cleaning, which is why a hand tool that’s specifically designed to scrub grains clean is a great option and one that will actually save you plenty of prep time.
Aside from removing dead pests, dirt, and debris, scrubbing rice clean will also work to improve the taste of the grain since some types have a thick coating and should be cleaned properly in order to improve the taste. Additionally, a thorough cleaning is a must since some types of rice are stored with diatomaceous earth in order to keep out mites and insects. While food-grade diatomaceous earth is edible, it can have a negative impact on the taste of the rice. Cooking brown rice can be a pain since it has a hull.
But it’s often used by people trying to make healthier food choices since it features a wonderful nutritional profile. Because of the hull, there’s less powdery residue to deal with, however, it must be thoroughly scrubbed before cooking in order to get rid of any unwanted debris. The rice should be placed in a rice washing bowl and scrubbed with a special cleaning brush specifically designed for rice. Instead of agitating the grains with your hands as you run the rice under the faucet, using this special cleaning brushing will provide the type of deep clean this rice needs to remove debris and dust.
White rice doesn’t have the protective hull that brown rice does, so there’s more powdery residue to deal with. You can stick with a rice washing bowl to get rid of this residue or use the dedicated cleaning brush for a faster prep time.
Wild rice is actually a grain, but is called rice because of its appearance. Wild rice must be cleaned with this special type of brush to remove dust and debris.
Product Recommendation: Inomata Handy Rice Washing Tool
This cleaning brush by Inomata allows you to scrub a large batch of rice in a washing bowl, prior to placing it in the pot. It can get the job done much faster, compared to washing the rice using just your fingers, and features an abrasive head design, and a strainer-style handle that will further help to remove dirt and debris. It’s a great buy if you’re looking for a faster way to clean rice, whether you’re preparing wild rice, sticky rice, or fine grains such as quinoa.
Rice Rolling Mats
Rice rolling mats are traditionally made out of bamboo, but modern models are also made out of silicone. These mats are used to prepare sushi rolls, but can also be used to shape other types of soft foods and work to squeeze out excess liquids. These mats are available in a couple of variations and can be found in a variety of sizes. You’ll come across models with cylindrical thin bamboo strips or mats with flat thick bamboo strips. The flat thick mats are much more versatile and are often used for thicker rolls. The cylindrical mats are designed specifically for makizushi.
When using one of these mats, some people will cover the surface with plastic wrap, which can make cleanup a cinch. This is especially important when you’re making maki sushi, which is made with the rice on the outside of the roll. If the mat you use is made out of bamboo instead of silicone, it should be allowed to fully air dry to prevent mold and bacteria growth.
As I mentioned, there are a couple of different types of rolling mats to choose from; bamboo and silicone. Lower priced models are difficult to wash and maintain, so it’s better to spend more and get a mat that can be sterilized or tossed in the dishwasher. This will significantly reduce your risk of food poisoning caused by reusing a mat that is not able to be cleaned properly in order to kill bacteria. A silicone mat will be your best bet since they can be placed in the dishwasher, or they can be sterilized in the microwave or even in a pot of boiling water. While the silicone mat doesn’t have the same classic feeling that you’ll get from rolling your rice in a bamboo mat, they’re definitely much easier to clean.
Product Recommendation: Finest Products Sushi Kimbab Roll Maker Silicone Rice Rolling Mat
This model measures in at a little over nine inches by eight inches. It’s made out of non-toxic, eco-friendly materials. The materials are also BPA-free. The mat’s seamless design makes it much easier to clean since grains of rice will not get trapped in the surface. Additionally, cleaning this mat is a cinch since you can place it in the dishwasher, wash it by hand, and you can also sterilize it to kill bacteria in the microwave or in a pot of boiling water on the stove.
Uncooked Rice Storage Containers
Most types of rice have an indefinite shelf life, but the big challenge here is keeping the rice free of contaminants including insects, dirt, and dust. In order to maximize the shelf life of your rice, it should be stored in a dry, cool place in the home. It should not be stored in its original packaging. Instead, it should be placed in an airtight container. If your rice needs further protection is can be stored in the fridge or freezer, which will prevent insects and contaminants from coming into contact with it. If you find any type of contaminant or bug in your rice, toss it out. Additionally, certain types of rice, such as brown, will develop a greasy texture once it’s gone bad.
Aside from protecting your rice from pests, did you know rice must be stored in an airtight container in order to protect its flavor? That’s right. The taste of your rice can change if it’s not stored correctly. To ensure that your fluffy jasmine rice and sticky rice retain their flavor, always use a special rice container. Once you open a bag of rice, it’s exposed to air, which will significantly decrease its freshness every day it remains in the bag.
Additionally, you should only purchase enough rice that you can store for a maximum of one month, to ensure you’re eating the freshest rice possible, even if you do store it correctly. Humidity can have a major impact on the taste and texture of your rice. Uncooked rice kept in a humid environment is more susceptible to staleness. If you do live in a humid part of the country, keep the rice in an airtight container in the freezer or fridge so it can retain its freshness. In the fridge or freezer, you can keep rice for up to two months.
Product Recommendations: Pission Airtight Rice Container
This airtight rice container comes complete with a pour spout and measuring cup, so measuring out the correct amount of rice is a breeze. This container is designed with a dual silicone seal which will prevent rodents, insects, and dust and debris from entering. The container is also BPA-free and can easily fit in the fridge or on a small shelf in the pantry. This model can hold just under four and a half pounds of uncooked rice and can also be used to store other types of grains such as oatmeal or quinoa.
Bamboo Rice Steamer
If you’re pretty handy in the kitchen and you prefer to cook rice the traditional way, then you’ll love using a bamboo rice steamer. This is a great, authentic way to prepare steamed rice, although it’s not nearly as easy as using a mini rice cooker.
A bamboo steamer features a bottom that’s made out of parallel, thin slats of bamboo, which allows steam to slip through. They often come equipped with a latticed lid that works to trap the steam inside. This allows convection heat to quickly cook and envelop the grains, without releasing enough starch to cause overly sticky rice or agitate the grains, causing the rice to turn out mushy. You can add some veggies to work as a barrier of sorts to prevent any rice from falling out of the steamer’s bottom, or you can simply use an aromatic leaf or parchment paper, for added support as your rice steams.
To use, you’ll have to first soak your rice in a large bowl of water for one hour before you rinse it in a dedicated rice washing bowl under cold water. The rice should be put aside as you get the steamer ready. Use a wok for this cooking task, filling it half full of water. The steamer should sit about an inch above the water. If you want to infuse your rice with flavors, then this steaming method will be perfect. Simply add spices to the water so their aroma will impact the flavor of the rice. On high heat, place the rice inside the steamer and cover it with the included lid. And that’s it. Timing the cooking length can be tricky, since each type of rice can have a longer or shorter cooking time, so you may not get the perfect cooking results each time. But with a little practice, you can turn out rice that’s perfectly moist and fluffy.
If you’re not confident in your cooking skills and you’d rather allow a rice cooker to handle all the dirty work, then I recommend the Aroma Housewares ARC-6206C Ceramic Rice Cooker, which is very beginner-friendly and comes equipped with intuitive controls.
Product Recommendation: Mister Kitchenware 10 Inch Handmade Bamboo Steamer 2-Tier Baskets
This bamboo basket by Mister Kitchenware features a couple of stackable layers, complete with slatted bottoms. This type of multi-level basket is very efficient and allows you to steam rice, fish, or veggies, at the same time. The bamboo works to absorb any excess moisture, which will prevent condensation from dripping down on your freshly cooked food and ruining its texture and flavor. Each basket measures in at ten inches in diameter, just under two and a half inches deep, and features an interior diameter of a little over nine inches.
Unfortunately, this model is not dishwasher safe, since placing bamboo in a dishwasher will completely ruin it. For bamboo, the best way to clean and disinfect it is to use vinegar mixed with water. This model is backed by a sixty-day money-back guarantee, so you can give this rice steaming method a shot, risk-free.
Mortar and Pestle
When you think of a mortar and pestle, you may think of making fresh guacamole or grinding up spices, but these tools are actually commonly used in both China and Japan to make traditional rice-based dishes. In Japanese cooking, a mortar and pestle are commonly used for a wide range of dishes. The mortar can be used to grind herbs, seeds, and foods, including rice. They are also the go-to tools to use to make sweet rice cakes called mochi, which are very popular in Japan. However, these tools can also be used to prepare rice for certain types of sushi rolls. The mochi rice cakes are among one of the most popular Japanese dishes.
With the right tools, such as a mortar and pestle, it’s very easy to prepare. But to do you have to use sticky rice, which has a much different texture compared to jasmine rice or basmati. After the rice has been cleaned and steamed, you’ll use the mortar and pestle to pound the rice into a very thick, sticky paste. You’ll use the same type of sticky rice and kneading and pounding method to make a variety of specialty sushi rolls.
Product Recommendation: Kota Japan Large Natural Grey Granite Mortar & Pestle Stone Grinder
A mortar and pestle set can be made out of a wide range of materials, but many cooks can agree that natural granite is the best option. Not only is this set by Kota Japan durable, but it also features a beautiful finish that makes it display-worthy in the kitchen. This set is perfect for making sushi rolls and mochi, or if you love making other types of Japanese or Chinese dishes, it can also be used to grind up herbs and spices into a fine powder. This stone works well for both dry and wet ingredients. This set weighs in at eight pounds and has a two-cup capacity. The mortar measures in at a little over five inches by five inches, with an interior bowl measurement of just under for inches by three inches. The pestle is ¾ of an inch by two inches. Fortunately, this set is very easy to clean since it’s made out of solid granite, which means it has a non-porous surface and will not absorb juices, spices, oils, or any type of liquid. However, it should be carefully washed by hand and allowed to fully air dry before storing it.
These rice cooking accessories can be used to prepare, store, clean, and cook your favorite rice dishes, whether you’re making a healthy pot of brown rice, or you want to try making your own sushi rolls or rice cakes. Each of these tools will be essential if you’re looking for an easier, more efficient way to serve and prepare your favorite rice side dishes, entrees, desserts, and more.