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Angkor Wat in Cambodia
the world's largest religious monument built in the 12th century
now a world heritage site
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Bai Sar
Steamed Rice




Rice is a staple food for the Khmers. It is served at almost every meal. In contrast to the Westerners, we eat rice as a main dish which is accompanied by other savoury dishes. A meal won’t be complete if it doesn’t include rice (or rice noodles).

Unlike common belief, properly cooked rice can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days and just warmed up when needed. Many years ago, I attended a food hygiene course which I was told that cooked rice would create food poisoning if kept overnight. I tried to persuade the instructor that it wasn’t true by using several examples for the discussion. She said she wanted to believe me but could not change the theory as it is written by the ministry of health. Anyway, to reheat the rice, just sprinkle it with water and then place it in a steamer or microwave. By the way, refrigerated rice makes very good fried rice. 

Traditionally, the Khmers used their fingertip to measure the right amount of water. I was told that, when you deep your finger in the water above the rice, it should be one knuckle deep and no more. I find that this  method is not accurate due to the size of the pot used, i.e. if  the pot is larger than the one which is proportional to the rice used, then the level of the water above the rice would be less than a knuckle deep.

As a rule of thumb, my grandmother told me to use the same quantity of water as rice. For example, if 2 cups of uncooked rice is needed, then add 2 cups of water to the rice after it has been washed and drained. However, as already mentioned on the right, the consistency of the cooked rice could vary slightly according to the type of rice used. Some rice is harder than the others.



Serves 4-6


Jasmine rice 2 cup (see tips below if other types of rice is used)
Tap water for washing the rice
Water 2 cups
Small heavy base cooking pot around 18 cm/7 inch diameter


1. Put the rice in the cooking pot, cover with plenty of water. Over the sink, stir it by hand for a few seconds to allow the rice to settle down to the bottom and the dirt to float up; and tilt the pot to one side to pour off the cloudy water and the unwanted bits. Repeat the same process one more time. Tilt the pot over the sink and drain the water off the rice as much as possible (use a sieve if you like).

2. Add the 2 cups of water to the pot of washed rice. Partly cover to pot and bring to the boil over a medium high heat (about 5 minutes). As soon as it boils, still partly covered, lower the heat to low, and simmer for about 10 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed.

3. Close the lid tightly so no steam can escape. Turn the heat to the lowest setting possible and continue to simmer for another 8-10 minutes. Then take the pot off the heat completely. Let it sit for 5 minutes or so. Use a fork or a pair of chopsticks to fluff the rice.  


 As a rule of thumb, my grandmother told me to use the same quantity of water and rice. For example, if 3 cups of rice is needed, then use 3 cups of water too. However, the consistency of the cooked rice could vary slightly depending on the type of rice used. Some rice is harder than the other.


If using other types of rice, the amount of water used will vary. For example, if using 1 cup of Basmati rice, you need 1¼ cups of water. If Brown rice is used, the guideline is 1 cup of rice to 2-2½ cups of water. The cooking time will also be a bit longer.

When cooking for several people, I normally allow 1 cup of raw rice per person for Asian people or ½ cup each for Westerners.

If you eat a lot of rice like I do, you may want to invest in a rice-cooker. Not only is it easier and quicker to cook,  it cooks perfect rice and keeps it warm for several hours. Rice-cookers are available in Asian stores or mainstream department stores in a wide range of sizes: 1 - 10 cup capacities.