Rice is a staple food in most Asian households and, for the most part, people cook it exactly the same way. You wash the rice, put it in a pot, fill it with water (guided by the “first knuckle method”), cook on a stove or rice cooker, and wait until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is fluffy. It’s a pretty fool-proof and straightforward process, so many Asians were horrified when this BBC host cooked her rice a little differently.
The video has BBC Food personality Hersha Patel making fried rice for when “all you can think about is Chinese takeaway.” The recipe is standard, if not a bit lacking in some ingredients, but what got people riled up was how she washed the rice after it had been cooking. An “insult” to fried rice, one netizen said.
The video was posted on Facebook in April 2019, but it went viral this week after UK-based Malaysian comedian Nigel Ng, posted a reaction video featuring Patel’s recipe, on YouTube.
“What is she doing? Drain it? Drain the [rice] — oh my God,” Ng said.
And that got netizens passionately defending the honour of their rice cooking method. Some practically screamed that the rice should be washed before cooking, while others couldn’t stand the idea of the rice getting soggy.
But amid all the criticisms, some also came to Patel’s defence. A few netizens said that washing rice after it’s cooked is done by at least some families in South Asia.
In another tweet, user @rabiasquared also shared a “One-Hour Chicken Biryani” recipe that calls for “soaked, drained rice.”
Another recipe, which teaches how to cook “perfect rice for biryani,” tells readers to boil, drain, rinse, then steam the rice.
While whether or not there is a “right” way to cook rice is still up for debate, this isn’t the first time western media was called out for doing Asian food wrong.
There’s the “whitewashed” halo-halo recipe by Bon Appétit, in 2016, that looked nothing like the Filipino shaved ice dessert it was meant to be, and the “Pho With Broccoli and Quinoa” recipe the New York Times published on the same year that didn’t even have rice noodles in it.
And who could forget that one time in 2018, when a Malaysian-born contestant was eliminated from the reality TV show MasterChef UK because judges thought her chicken rendang needed "crispy" skin? Asian netizens, of course, did not waste time and took to social media to say that chicken rendang shouldn’t be crispy.
Find Miran on Instagram.