Kitchen Hacks

The Rice Salting Debate Without an Answer

September  7, 2017

Reddit, the internet’s favorite sounding board, is playing host to a salty culinary debate: Should one salt or not salt their rice while it’s cooking?

Reddit user MicaMtnGirl posed the grainy query that set the message board alight: “From expert sources I've heard that you should not put salt in the pot when cooking rice. From other expert sources, I've heard that you must salt the rice in the cookpot. What do you all think?” And thus a debate was born.

MicaMtnGirl, our curious questioner, might be onto something. We’ve settled on the fact that pasta water should be as salty as the sea, but there exists no definitive rule regarding the salinity of the water in which we cook our rice.

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Responses were varied. Many called upon their East Asian heritages, cultures where rice occupies a sizable and important role on the plate, to throw weight behind cooking rice in unsalted water. Some users mentioned alternatives to salt as an additive, throwing out suggestions like bouillon cubes, chicken broth, dried sausage, or a splash of olive oil.

Currently, the most popular answer in the digital debate field, was submitted by realmacarooni: “Speaking as a Chinese person who's seen both my grandmas, aunts, uncles, mom, dad, my Japanese gf's aunt, mom, dad, grandma and my Korean friends' families make rice, I've never seen them add salt. But if it tastes good to you, do what you do, that's the only thing that matters anyway.”

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Top Comment:
“Koreans, Japanese and Chinese do not add salt to plain rice when cooking it. The raw rice needs to be agitated (swirled around using a clean hand) while running cold water over it, stopping the water then draining it -- as many times as this takes for the water in the pot to look crystal clear. The end result is worth this bit of effort.”
— P
Comment

Because at the end of the day it all boils down to preference anyway. I, for one, am no rice pro and am always looking for ways to improve my grain game. Do you salt your rice or hold off? Share your sprinkling tips below.

11 Comments

Naomi September 7, 2018
When I cook rice for Asian dishes, I use Asian short grain rice and no salt or oil. When im making Latin or non-Asian inspired dishes I do salt and add oil to my rice.
 
P March 26, 2018
Koreans, Japanese and Chinese do not add salt to plain rice when cooking it. The raw rice needs to be agitated (swirled around using a clean hand) while running cold water over it, stopping the water then draining it -- as many times as this takes for the water in the pot to look crystal clear. The end result is worth this bit of effort.
 
amanda R. September 16, 2017
I never salt the water but I salt to taste once the rice is finished cooking (depending on what it's going with).
 
PHIL September 8, 2017
a little salt, a little butter, sometimes some chicken broth depending on what I am making.
 
BerryBaby September 8, 2017
I have never salted rice water. However I sometimes use chicken broth instead of water. If I'm making chicken and want a side dish, chicken broth and then add frozen peas. When rice is done, lift lid add the frozen peas, cover and wait five minutes. Toss together, perfect side dish!
 
Matti N. September 7, 2017
Seems to me that cultures that serve food with rice that includes salty (soy sauce based) sauces or as an end-of-meal palate cleanser would not add salt, as opposed to cultures that serve rice as a main dish (risotto, paella) would add salt. Doesn't seem like rocket science to me.
 
Kaite September 7, 2017
My Venezuelan husband always salts the water for rice no matter what type of rice it is. He says he doesn't like to add salt to rice after it cooks as the salt grains don't dissolve and he can feel them.
 
J. C. September 7, 2017
Think about risotto, pilaf, paella, jambalaya etc... You are essentially cooking rice in a seasoned, salted liquid. Why wouldn't you salt plain rice?
 
Smaug October 2, 2018
Because you didn't want it to taste like salt, maybe?
 
Hilmi A. September 7, 2017
In Pakistani heritage, salted water is SUPER important in basmati, It's tradition based! Other Asian cultures don't add! All r rght
 
Ron M. September 7, 2017
I've never heard of salting rice water, but I have to agree with @realmacarooni ... as with all cooking, the only thing that matters is how it tastes to you. For myself, I would never salt the water. Many things I put on rice are already salty, and I like the contrast. If I want salted rice, then I'll just add salt as I eat it. One of my favorite foods after a run is a bowl of rice with maldon salt and olive oil drizzled on top.