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A staple dish around the world, steamed rice is something almost all of us are familiar with. Plain, it rounds out meals as a starchy and filling side, but today I want to bring rice into its own by making it the star of the meal. Enter seasoned Chinese steamed rice.
This Chinese style rice dish is complex and savory. It’s got big flavor from garlic, ginger and star anise, and an umami depth which comes from classic Asian flavors like soy, oyster sauce and sesame.
Seasoned Chinese steamed rice is a minimal-prep alternative to fried rice, with no need for a wok or lots of oil. To make it a complete and nourishing meal just steam some vegetables and meat or fish at the same time as the rice cooks.
The best way to steam rice
If you’ve tried steaming plain rice in a steam oven, you’ll know just how simple and how fantastic it can be.
In fact, I believe steaming rice in a lightweight stainless steel pan (or another nonreactive metal pan) is the best way to do it. A shallow layer of rice and the thin pan provide quick heat transfer and even cooking, making for rice which is uniformly steamed all the way through and never mushy.
For today’s seasoned rice we’re going to apply the same steam oven method to cook the rice. It’s very easy and gives you fluffy grains which stay separate and tender.
The difference between this dish and regular steamed rice is that we’re also going to steam the aromatics before adding the rice and liquid. This softens and adds depth to those flavorings, so they can infuse the rice as it cooks.
Want more steam oven cooking ideas? Get my Steam Oven Cheat Sheets, with more than 35 approachable and inspirational ideas that’ll make you a more confident steam oven cook!
Seasonings for Chinese style rice
There are as many seasonings for rice as there are world cuisines, from lemon, garlic and herbs in the Mediterranean to tomatoes and peppers in Mexico or coconut and pandan leaves in South East Asia.
When it comes to this Chinese seasoned rice we’re going to use flavors which are traditional to Chinese cooking: soy and oyster sauces, Chinese rice wine, garlic, ginger, onions and toasty sesame oil.
This dish may not be all that authentic, but everything in it is, and the taste will remind you of all the good things about Chinese food! The ingredients help to build layers of complexity and flavor in the rice in a fairly short time and with minimal effort.
Have a look at some of my other great steam oven rice recipes here:
(with downloadable chart for all different types of rice!)
(not just for Christmas!)
What to serve with seasoned Chinese steamed rice
Seasoned rice can be served with steamed vegetables and chicken or fish, or as a side dish to a stir fry.
My absolute favorite accompaniments, though, are lightly pickled raw vegetables and a fried egg, making for a punchy and nutritious meat-free dinner.
I got the inspiration for the pickled veg and egg combination from Smitten Kitchen’s crispy rice and egg bowls, which are the best way I know of to use up leftover brown rice.
I wanted something similar to those crispy rice bowls, but which didn’t require me to have cooked and cooled my rice ahead of dinnertime. Chinese style rice is perfect. The vegetables and egg can be prepared while the rice cooks, and there’s enough flavor in the rice that no extra dressings are required (unless you want to spice things up with a little Sriracha sauce, which I can definitely recommend).
I’m not providing a recipe for the pickled veg, but if you want to make them too, just add half a teaspoon of sugar to around a quarter cup of rice wine vinegar. Toss through a couple of handfuls of thinly sliced cucumber and carrot, then leave to sit for around 15 minutes. Drain off the vinegar mix to serve.
I love this quick pickle method to give vegetables a lift, and if there are any leftovers they’re great tossed through a salad. The vegetables will keep in the fridge for several days, so you can easily prepare them ahead of time.
How to make seasoned Chinese rice
Ready to get cooking? Here’s how to make your own seasoned Chinese steamed rice.
Preheat your oven to 212°F/100°C on the steam setting (100% steam), and put the oils, onion, garlic, ginger and star anise into your pan.
Steam for 5 minutes, which will be just long enough to soften the onions and start releasing all those delicious flavors.
While the onion mixture starts cooking, mix the stock with the soy and oyster sauces and the rice wine.
Mix in the rice, stirring well before adding any liquid. Doing this covers each grain with the oniony, garlicky, gingery oil and helps you achieve lovely fluffy, individual grains after cooking.
Add the stock mixture and stir. Give the pan a very gentle shake to help the rice sit in an even layer.
Return the pan to the oven and cook for 20 minutes, then fluff the rice with a fork and leave to sit for a minute or two before serving. Pile that delicious, fragrant rice into bowls and serve straightaway!
If you have leftovers, reheat using your steam oven. The rice will come out as though it’s been freshly cooked.
Happy cooking, see you here again soon.
Recipe: Seasoned Chinese Steamed Rice
This rice is adapted and simplified from one over at the wonderful Recipe Tin Eats blog, for one-pot Chinese chicken and rice. I’ve removed the chicken altogether, slightly adapted the ingredients and altered the method for steam oven cooking.
If you don’t have or like oyster sauce, Nagi’s original recipe recommends hoisin sauce as a substitute, and that’s what I’d go with too. The flavor will be a little sweeter and spicier but it does give the depth you need.
The Shaoxing wine, a staple Chinese ingredient, is something you may not have if you don’t cook much Asian food, but it’s worth seeking out a bottle. It’s readily available at Asian supermarkets or online, fairly inexpensive and keeps for a long time in the pantry. Shaoxing wine is a standard addition to many marinades and Chinese style dishes and I find myself pulling it out at least a couple of times a month. If you really can’t get it, 1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar would be the closest substitute.
1 tbs oil (something neutral, sunflower is ideal)
1 tsp sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch (2.5cm) piece ginger, grated
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 whole star anise (optional)
2 tbs Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing wine)
2 tbs oyster sauce
1 tbs dark soy sauce
3 cups (750ml) light chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups (400g) long grain rice
Sliced scallions (green onions) to serve (optional)
Pickled cucumber and carrot to serve (optional) (see post for details)
One egg per person, fried, to serve (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 212°F/100°C, steam only setting (100% steam).
2. Put the oil, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, onion and star anise into a large stainless steel pan and give it a stir. Put in the oven for 5 minutes.
3. While the garlic, ginger and onions start cooking, mix the vinegar, oyster sauce, soy sauce, pepper and chicken stock together in a jug.
4. When the timer goes off, add the rice and stock mixture to the onion mixture. Give it all a stir and return to the oven for 20 minutes.
5. At the end of cooking, fluff the rice with a fork and allow to stand for 1-2 minutes before serving with scallions, pickled vegetables and a fried egg.
Over to you – if you try this recipe I’d love to know about it! Share your comments below or on Facebook, tag @steamandbake on Instagram, or pin all your favourite Steam and Bake recipes over on Pinterest!
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