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Buttonstc's avatar

Do you find it increasingly difficult to find a nearby Chinese restaurant using "real" rice (rather than the abomination of parboiled rice)?

Asked by Buttonstc (27597points) January 21st, 2016 from iPhone

Uncle Ben is the chief example of parboiled rice and I guess a lot of people prefer it or don’t really care which type of rice is used.

My problem with it is that no matter how you cook or reheat it or how much liquid you use, it will NEVER fluff up and be as tender as real rice. You’re just left chewing hard little pellets.

I suppose a case could be made for parboiled rice in certain dishes such as Gumbo where the rice has to hold it’s own against lots of stirring and other ingredients. Mushy rice really gums it up but parboiled stays firm.

But in Asian cooking, the rice is the star as much as any of the other ingredients. So, a tender fluffy consistency is important.

But I’m increasingly finding supposedly “authentic” Chines places using the parboiled rice and it just ruins it for me.

Fried rice, by definition, is already reheated rice and therefore firmer. But when it’s parboiled rice, no matter how much liquid you use to reheat it, NOTHING works to turn those hard little pellets tender.

So why are Chinese restaurants using real rice becoming harder to find. Does everybody else prefer parboiled rice and I’m the only picky one bucking the trend?

Does it matter to you which type of rice is used? What do you normally use in your cooking?

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12 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

Not near me, but then again I live in the SF Bay Area and my office is two blocks from Chinatown.

Buttonstc's avatar

So presumably, most of the restaurants in Chinatown use real rice?

That was mostly the case when I lived in Philly but since moving here I have yet to find one using real rice. They ALL use that parboiled crap.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I’ve never been to a Chinese restaurant or takeaway and not been served real rice.

chinchin31's avatar

I love parboiled rice. Parboiled rice is real. It is good for one pot dishes.

dxs's avatar

There’s a place I go to in Chinatown every week that has the real rice. I went there today. I don’t like the other rice, either—the people at the place I ate at call it “American-style rice.”

Buttonstc's avatar


You’re right that it’s good for one pot dishes (like the Gumbo I mentioned) because it stays firm.

I know it’s really rice but it is rice that has been pre-processed (the parboiling) and therefore tampered with.

Real rice, to my mind, is rice in its natural state. After parboiling, there is absolutely nothing that can be done to restore its tenderness. It forever remains those hard chewy pellets.

If someone prefers that (as apparently many do) that’s fine for them. But the rest of us like the tender, fluffy quality of untampered-with rice.

And if there’s anyplace one would expect that, it’s clearly in traditional Chinese cooking where rice is king.

It puzzles me why any Chinese restaurant would use parboiled and risk losing customers. Any place that uses parboiled has lost me as a customer for life. I’m fairly sure I’m not the only one.

dxs's avatar

@Buttonstc It’s an option at my place. When you get a dish, they ask “white or fried?”

jca's avatar

Chinese restaurants are going to use the cheapest rice available, and I’m sure parboiled rice is not the cheapest.

Buttonstc's avatar


But if they use parboiled then either the white or fried option would both contain parboiled rice rather than regular.


That’s why I’m puzzled as to why every Chines restaurant near me uses parboiled. It makes little sense to me.

When I lived in Philliy it was rare to find parboiled at any Chinese restaurant, especially in Chinatown. Occasionally one of them out in the burbs would be using parboiled but they didn’t get any further business from me once I realized it.

Where I am here I live too far away from the Asian area containing tons of restaurants so I’m pretty much stuck with the few around me. And so far, all of them use the parboiled crap. But why they do is a mystery to me.

chinchin31's avatar

I grew up on parboiled rice. I hate white / jasmine rice or whatever it is called. They are too mushy for me and sticky. I love the nuttiness of the parboiled rice. It also does not get soggy very quickly.

I think it is just a matter of taste and what you are used to.

They both have nutritional value. My parents and grandparents grew up eating parboiled rice and we all came out healthy. So whatever.

You are just not used to it.

I think some of you also don’t realize that most Chinese food in America is not real Chinese food .

As a matter of fact most Chinese immigrants adapt the food according to the taste of the people that live there.

E.g in America they add more sugar.

In the caribbean and africa they make it more spicy because people like spicy.

In Holland in Europe I had the most BLAND Chinese food ever. It was horrible but the people there loved it.

I also had Chinese food in Colombia. The food was really nasty. IT had no flavor at all and was really greasy and the owners were from China speaking Chinese. However all the locals thought it was delicious.

So you can also argue that the Chinese food you are eating is not real either.

IT is all a matter of personal taste.

Also China is such a big country. Every region has a different style of cooking.

Maybe in the region of the new chef of your restaurant they use parboiled rice. You never know.

jca's avatar

@Buttonstc: Is it possible you are incorrect? If you really think they’re using parboiled and you don’t know why, have you considered having a conversation with the staff at the restaurant or fast food place and asking them about it?

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