How to cook white rice for Japanese food

I have been asked many times “how to cook white rice” at my Japanese cooking demonstrations. From that experience, I realized that many are looking for detailed explanations, cooking methods and tips for cooking rice for Japanese meals. And I also know that many of you are more familiar with long rice for ethnic food; like Indian, Chinese and Thai.

Long rice is not suited to Japanese food, particularly sushi. I’m glad I have the chance to teach you the proper way to cook white rice.  As you cook rice on the stove top you may sometimes make mistakes, but with practice it becomes easier and you will get better at cooking Japanese style rice.  The smell and slightly sweet taste of rice is really suited to the simplicity of Japanese food. 


how to cook white rice for Japanese food

What type of rice?

Short or medium grain white rice is perfect for Japanese cuisine. It’s a little sticky and easier to eat with chopsticks. You can use ‘sushi rice’ as well which is also a short grain rice.

How to prepare  rice

Wash the rice and leave it for 20-30 minutes

*Tip- When I demonstrate cooking rice, my audience will often ask with surprise "Are you washing  the rice?" I didn’t know that people are not washing rice, so I was surprised too. Some information said 'white rice that is polished doesn’t need to be washed' or for fluffy rice 'you rinse after cooking'. The Japanese way is to wash before we cook. 

How to wash rice; 

  1. Put rice in a large bowl (at least twice the volume of rice)
  2. Add water to near the top of the bowl
  3. Gently rub or mix rice by hand for about 30 seconds. (This will remove any dirt and extra starch from the rice) 
  4. Pour the water away by covering rice with your hand
  5. Then back to 1. Repeat this action 3 times. The water gradually becomes clear.
  6. Finally drain the rice and leave it in the strainer for 20-30 minutes to get a good result.

*Tip- Leave the rice for 20-30 minutes -- this is the proper way but I don't always do it, sometimes  I cook straight after washing. You can do the same if you are in a hurry.  

How to cook perfect rice  

Using a rice cooker will give you a perfect result every time.  

*Tip- Each rice cooker has special cup. (A rice cooker cup does not equal 1 measuring cup) 

  1. Wash rice first. Eg; if you washed 3 cups of raw rice than after washed put rice in to rice cooker.
  2. Add water up to gauge of 3 where marked inside the cooker. (This is a Japanese rice cooker. Please follow your rice cooker’s instruction, each rice cooker set up heat and measurement suited to get the best result.) 
  3. Switch on the button. That’s it, wait until your rice is cooked.  
  4. After the rice has cooked the rice cooker will switch off automatically. But give it another 15 or 20 minute for steaming. 
  5. Then its ready to eat. Check “after cooked rice” section down below.

Check out this quick video for cooking perfect rice in your rice cooker..


How to cook white rice on the stove

Ingredients  --- (All measurements are metric 250ml cup)

2 cups of Short or medium grain rice  

*Tip- 2 cup of raw rice makes 4-6 cups of cooked  rice

Step by step instructions  

  1. Place the washed rice into a deep saucepan, spreading evenly and cover with cups of water. 2 & 1/3rd cups of water – approx 850mls.
  2. Cook on high heat with the lid on until it starts boiling. (Approximately 5 minutes)
  3. Once boiling commences and the lid starts to make bubbling sounds, keep the lid closed.
  4. Reduce heat to low and gently simmer for a further 15 - 20 minutes. (Until liquid evaporates)     
  5. Remove the saucepan from stove, cover with the lid on for a further 15 minutes to continue steaming the rice. 

After Cooking

I usually turn over top to bottom because the top can be quite dry and bottom section has more moisture than the top. For this motion - folding rice, it is better to use a wooden or plastic spatula.

*Tip- Wetting the spatula first using water makes this process much easier. Please take care not to mould or squash the rice grains.

I can hear your excitement now that you have learnt “how to cook white rice “ the proper Japanese way. Now you want to cook some more Japanese food? Or maybe you want to get good advice for buying a rice cooker. Yes I assure you, it’s a good investment! 



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