I love the Chinese food we get from takeaway shops, and often to save on the cost we will cook our own rice at home. This is good, but the rice never seems to have the same texture as takeaway rice - it's less sticky, and much harder to eat with chopsticks. I usually use plain long grain rice as that's what I have in the cupboard. Does anyone know what kind they would use in a Chinese restaurant or takeaway?

Also, out of interest, what kind is used in authentic Chinese cooking? (I am well aware that this is vastly different from what we eat as "Chinese food" in the West!)


Well in Chinese cooking we use a wide variety actually. Typically speaking...

Medium or Long Grain Rice

  • White Rice
  • Fried Rice

Sweet Rice or Glutinous Rice

  • Sticky Rice (You commonly see this at Dim Sum places in the sticky rice dishes wrapped in lotus leaves, among other places.)

There are others of course, but those are the common ones you'll find since you were asking about Chinese Takeout. The shorter the grain, the more "sticky" it will be. However, that doesn't mean that long grain rice should come out grainy either. I suppose different restaurants will do it differently, around here they generally use long grain rice for "white rice". This is how my mother taught me to make rice:

  1. Wash Rice a few times till there isn't any more murkiness.
  2. Add water till it reaches your first knuckle on your pointer finger when the tip is just barely touching the rice (should generally work for any amount of rice).
  3. Bring to boil, turn to simmer (covered). Check back in 10 to 15 minutes If the water is mostly gone, and it isn't at the texture you like, you can always add a bit more water.
  4. Let it sit for a few minutes after the heat is off.

In China, you'll find all different grains. I've seen both short and long grains, and have seen plain white, long grain rice served as well.

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Glad you asked!

I'm a Chinese person who lives in Shanghai.

Based on what I see and my girlfriend's preferrence, native young guys in Shanghai are after rice from Thailand, in Chinese "泰国香米". It looks long and thin, just like @talon8 said. This kind of rice has sweet smell.

Personally, I prefer rice from Wuchang. Wuchang(五常) in a place in Heilongjiang Province, in the North East China. Wuchang rice is basically considered the best in China by elders.

Also, rice in Chinese cuisines is served alone, while in many South Asia cuisines rice is mixed with pork or other kinds of meat.

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  • Welcome to the site Matt, thanks for your input. – BaffledCook Mar 24 '13 at 19:01
  • Google translates the first one to 'Thai rice' (I assume what's sold as 'jasmine rice' in the U.S.) A bit of research into Wuchang rice suggest that it's a highly aromatic short grain rice. (and that there may have been attempts to pass of fake Wuchang rice in 2010) – Joe Oct 19 '14 at 21:28

I think Jasmine Rice is what you see in many Chinese restaurants. Short grain rice (aka sushi rice) is more popular for Japanese food. The stickiness of regular (as opposed to glutinous) rice is a factor of the amount of water you use. The more water, the stickier. Glutinous rice is not really used for regular food, its mainly for special dishes and desserts.

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There are several types of rices used in chinese cooking. In general, rice is categorised in length: Long, medium and short or glutenous. The length makes a difference, more or less starch. Longer the less starch, the shorter or more round, more starch. Some other factors to consider when cooking rice is liquid amount and time/heat in cooking rice.

I use the term "white rice", which is just brown rice without its shell/husk.

Plain white rice for eating with a meal is usually just long grain rice or even Thai jasmine rice for the fragrance. Depending on rice texture needed: more sticky, more water. Less sticky, less water.

Fried rice is usually made of the same rice as plain white rice, long grain or jasmine rice. Home style friend rice, typically uses day old rice, but restaurants will use fresh cooked rice, just made with less water to make the rice a bit less sticky.

Chinese porridges or jook, can use any type of rice, but usually more short grain to make the porridge thicker in texture. This dish uses more liquid and a long cooking times to get the most out of the rice. Some porridges are very thick and some are less. Typically the breakfast porridge is a bit thicker. When people are sick or for the elderly, a thinner consistency porridge is in order, helps for easier digestion.

Japanese/Koreans tend to use medium to short grain for their rice of choice. This tends to me much more sticky, but without it being soft. Typically sushi rice is made of this short grain rice. One-giri or rice balls are also the same rice, but not seasoned with vinegar as the sushi rice.

Dessert rice is usually the shortest grain rice, or sweet glutenous rice. Mochi,is short grain sweet rice. It is freshly cooked, and actually beaten and mashed to make it one homogenous texture. Other types of sweet rice dishes are usually steamed to get the right texture for the dish.

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  • Hello and welcome! It's a nice answer, +1 from me. I had to edit out your health claims though, they're off-topic here. – rumtscho Mar 6 '16 at 9:31

the best way to find out what exact rice the takeaway shop uses is to get to know the owners/cooks well by being a constant polite patron. once you've established a connection with them they will generally tell you what rice they use if you're kind and polite in asking in a round about way. example of an old friend whose eaten there many times asking after rice type (oh I just love the white rice you guys here, it's good in your fried rice and plain, cold warm or hot it accompanies the sauces well. what brand/type is it? I would like to stock it into my own pantry) as for chinese rice types you can find the various province's types on any google search for that particular topic. each one will be different and then will be further sub divided into preference by cooking style (i.e chinese people like noodles as much as rice in Cantonese cooking, etc..)
I have personally eaten ALOT of take out and I make it a point to go to every chinese restaurant in my local area and while traveling I try to have that local area's chinese at least once. I probably have visited over the course of 10 years about 120-150 restaurants in many locales in the united states. and I've been cooking my own version of chinese just as long. I do hope the above answer helps.

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Some of these answers are inaccurate. The stickiness and softness i.e the texture of a rice is mostly affected by the rice type, irrespective of the cooking timing or water content (although this also affects it). You are not going to get anything like e.g Thai jasmine rice texture (that is popular in asia) with an American locally bought rice because before takeaways were heard of, the norm was that the average American likes a chewy full bodied grain that does not stick to the neighboring grain and can easily be cooked like spaghetti. Asians however have been bred with the sticky soft type grain. I know this because i spent half my life in both worlds.

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Look for any sticky rice (or short-grain rice) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_rice

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Best Chinese restaurants buy in bulk Basmati rice makes a hell of a differences!

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  • 5
    But... basmati rice is traditionally used in India, not China, right? (Also, surely every restaurant buys their basic ingredients in bulk, whether they're good or not.) – Cascabel Oct 19 '14 at 21:19

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