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I moved in a brand new house. I have no stove, microwaves or hot water for a week or two.

I'm vegetarian and I've already prepared fresh veggies wrap, salad, hummus, sandwichs, .. but I'm wondering if you could cook any kind of pasta or rice without hot water.

A long time ago I read pasta could be softened in cold water before boiling it to cook it quicker.

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What about something like a coffee pot? Instead of putting coffee in the filter, just let it heat your water and then cook something like couscous which just needs to stand in hot water? Or you could use an electric kettle or hot pot. Alternatively a rice cooker would work for rice. –  justkt Feb 22 '12 at 17:17
    
I don't have a coffee pot or a rice cooker :( I have a moka pot. I have no hot water at all. –  doctoraw Feb 22 '12 at 18:31
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If it's going to be a week or two you could just buy an electric kettle. There are some really cheap ones. –  Jefromi Feb 22 '12 at 20:34
    
A small microwave is pretty cheap, too—somewhere around $50. –  derobert Feb 22 '12 at 21:07
    
Why don't you cook it in the oven? –  user21018 Oct 31 '13 at 19:04

6 Answers 6

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Wetted starch is not the same thing as cooked starch. If you want to see the difference in a simple experiment, make two starch slurries, boil one into a pudding, and leave the other one cold. Starch only gelates at high temperatures (I think it starts around 70°C, but needs even more to complete the process).

When you have a grain of rice, you have the problem that the starch is very closely packed together, and water can't penetrate into the center of the grain too well - the outside layers soak all the water they come in contact with, and so water only seeps into the center of the rice after the outer part has been hydrated. It is similar for pasta. In the worst case, when you cook rice, the time needed for cooking will be enough to heat the whole grain to the gelating temperature, but not enough for the water to hydrate the innermost part of the corn. This is fine if you want hardish-cooked rice, but if you want soft, mushy rice, you should presoak it so the inside is already hydrated when you start cooking it. I suppose you can do the same with pasta. This is the reason why some sources will advice you to presoak.

But, as I said, this is not the same as cooking. Yes, the rice or pasta will get soft, so you won't break your teeth if you try to eat it. But it will still be raw starch. I don't know if it is unhealthy to eat raw starch (my mother certainly told me so, but it could have been a myth; I asked a question about that and got no conclusive answers). But it will probably taste unpleasant, similar to raw potatoes or raw flour. I would try to get other sources of food for this time period. Or, as @justkt's comment suggests, it is easy to get an electric kettle in a brand new house before the kitchen is installed. You can use it to pour cooking water over "instant" versions of pasta and rice. These have been pregelated and then dehydrated, so don't need a prologned cooking. They are usually available as instant hot soup or rice meals in sachets and cardboard boxes, I haven't seen them as pure ingredients.

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Thanks. I think you are right about the flour flavour. I'll try it anyways with a little portion of pasta to see how it grows and taste. –  doctoraw Feb 22 '12 at 18:33
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I try it and the rice is still tough after 4 hours. The pasta was a paste after a few minutes. The pasta was pretty disgusting :S –  doctoraw Feb 23 '12 at 2:50
    
The rice will need much longer, normally presoaking for rice is overnight (assuming you plan to cook it afterwards). But I doubt that it will taste much better than the pasta. –  rumtscho Feb 23 '12 at 10:04

Ramen, or instant, noodles are usually precooked, so you ought to be able to get away with just a cold water soak. ramen "no cook" turns up many recipes, but I'm not finding how long a soak is needed for rehydration with cold water.

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+1 for dry instant ramen. I will sometimes crumble up a pack before opening, open the pack and add a little bit of the seasoning, shake the pack carefully to distribute the seasoning, and chomp down on that. In a pinch. –  Preston Fitzgerald May 25 at 5:25

You can make rice in a crock pot. There are 2 methods that I know of, one of which I use all the time.

  1. (this is the one I haven't used, but have heard of it from reliable sources) An hour before serving your meal, fill a crock pot liner with the amount of water/salt/rice that you would normally use. Put it at the top of the pot, using the lid to keep it there (meaning to put both sides of the top of the bag over the lid of the pot and put the cover over the edges). Fluff with a fork before eating.
  2. I take a pyrex or any other oven safe bowl that's big enough to hold the amount of cooked rice that I want, put the rice, water, and whatever else I want into the bowl, and put it in the crockpot at the beginning of the cook time for whatever dish I'm making. I put it to the side of the main dish that is already cooking in there. It comes out perfect every time.

This is, of course, assuming you have access to a slow cooker (which would probably be a good idea if you don't have access to hot water or a stove).

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I have no crock pot or rice cooker. No hot water at all at home. I am in a hot weather place, so is not a big problem for having a shower ;) –  doctoraw Feb 22 '12 at 18:35
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Hmmm If you are in a place with hot weather, perhaps you can utilize the sun to boil water. I've seen sun ovens done before. I dont see why you can't utilize the same heat trapping concept to boil water. –  Jay Feb 22 '12 at 18:57
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@Jay you can, indeed its how some solar-thermal power plants work. Of course, this would be much more work than a $15 electric kettle, but could be more fun. –  derobert Feb 22 '12 at 21:18

I found your question by searching for the same answer. I just tried cooking in a coffee pot, and it did not get hot enough, so I have tough rice even after two hours on the "burner". However, I do wonder if I would get different results with "quick" or "minute" rice. That seems to have been fluffed in some way to allow for quicker water penetration. Per the box directions on quick rice, I get great rice by boiling water and then letting it sit for five minutes. I wonder how well cold water would penetrate, and how long it would take.

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Camp stove. Sterno cans at sporting goods store--cheap. Or outside grill--but it will take a while.

Remember you only need to bring it to boil or very hot, then let it sit for a while.

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Hi Steve. Welcome to Seasoned Advice! Contrary to a lot of the discussion on this page, the original question is about not using hot water (from any source.) I'm with you, I'd rather find a way to make hot water than attempt to eat lukewarm, uncooked rice. But it's not the question at hand. –  Preston Fitzgerald May 28 at 3:37

Rice is made to be hot. The chemical reaction happens through enough energy to allow the water in, otherwise, you get stale rice.

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Hi MJO. Welcome to Seasoned Advice. There are some issues with your answer that are causing it to be downvoted. The first one that I see is that you mention a chemical reaction but do not mention what reaction you are speaking of. Since you do not include any reference to a source document it's hard to verify this claim. "Rice is made to be hot" is also kind of a weird claim. Rice is grown to live and procreate like anything else. We value precise wording and science above general advice. –  Preston Fitzgerald Apr 23 at 22:52
    
@PrestonFitzgerald I don't think the idea here is that rice evolved or was created to be hot; it's just that in the context of cooking rice is meant to be cooked hot. It's circular, so it's certainly not a useful answer, but your response is a bit odd. –  Jefromi Apr 24 at 0:06
    
@Jefromi I thought my closing sentence would be enough to explain my pedanticism. Guess not. –  Preston Fitzgerald May 10 at 2:36
    
@PrestonFitzgerald In that case, I completely disagree: we value useful answers above pedantry. You can always edit to address pedantry if you really have to, but if the answer's useful, it's useful, nitpicking or not. –  Jefromi May 10 at 3:19

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