How To Cook Rice 美味しいご飯の炊き方

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How To Cook Rice | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

Do you use a rice cooker to make rice or do you cook rice the traditional way in a pot?  Today let’s get back to basics and I’m going to show you how to cook Japanese short grain rice on the stove as I’ve received a lot of requests from readers for this recipe.

Growing up in Japan, where rice is the primary source of protein and a staple food, cooking rice is a basic kitchen task, but an extremely important one.  While a rice cooker (this is the one I have) with all the bells and whistles seem to be an essential kitchen gadget in most Asian kitchens, I know not everyone eats rice on a daily basis and may not own a rice cooker.  It’s also handy to know how to make rice over the stove in case your rice cooker breaks out of the blue or you’re craving for rice while camping.

Japanese short-grain rice is different from long-grain basmati or jasmine rice.  So if you want to cook Japanese rice at home, please follow this simple method to cook a perfect pot of glossy and tender rice!

How To Cook Rice | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

There are 4 important points to remember when cooking Japanese short grain rice!

1. Always soak the rice in water for 30 minutes.  Rice has been sitting in the bag dried after milling and needs moisture.  It’s important that you give it enough time for rice to absorb water so that rice has a nice fluffy texture after it’s cooked.

2. Drain the rice completely, at least for 15 minutes.  Why?  If you don’t drain thoroughly, you’ll be using more water in cooking than you intended.  The rice might come out all mushy.

3. DO NOT open the lid while cooking!  That’s a big no no when it comes to cooking Japanese rice.  I learned from my experience to catch the indication of “boiling” by the sound.  However, until you do, it’s okay to “quickly peek” inside to see if it’s boiling.  The last 10 minutes of steaming is an extremely important part of cooking rice, so continue to keep the pot covered till the end and do not skip this step!

4. Use a heavy-bottom pot with tight-fitting lid that keeps the steam in.  If your lid fits loosely, put a clean kitchen cloth between the lid and the pot.

I made a video for you so you can watch the whole process in less than 2 minutes.  Also, this is our first video which we included some clips of outtakes!  We are still learning how to shoot videos and we make quite a few mistakes. :)

By the way, you may wonder how to keep the leftover rice.  And here’s what I do: freeze the rice!  If you already know how much rice you will be using, then pack away the unused rice immediately to seal in the moisture (let it cool before freezing)!

How To Freeze Rice

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How To Cook Rice
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: Serves 2-3
Ingredients
  • 1 cup premium Japanese short grain rice
  • 1 ¼ cups (300 ml) water
Instructions
  1. Put rice in a large bowl. Rice absorbs water very quickly when you start washing, so don't let the rice absorb the unclear water. Gently wash the rice in a circular motion and discard the water. Repeat this process about 3-4 times.
  2. Let the rice soak in water for 30 minutes. Transfer the rice into a sieve and drain for 15 minutes.
  3. Combine the rice and water in a heavy-bottom pot and bring it to a boil over medium heat.
  4. Take a quick peek to see if water is boiling (otherwise do not open the lid).
  5. Once water is boiling, turn the heat to low and cook covered for 12 to 13 minutes, or until the water is completely absorbed (take a quick peek!). If you see there is water left, close the lid and continue cooking for a little longer.
  6. Remove the pot (with the lid on) from the heat source and let it steam for another 10 minutes.
  7. Fluff the rice with a rice paddle when it’s done.
Notes
A heavy-bottom pot with a tight-fitting lid is recommended.

Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.
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  1. In Peru we eat all meals with rice, no matter if we have potatoes as a side, we always include rice, so it’s a basic thing for all of us: learn how to cook rice. But I have to admit that I never cook rice in a traditional way, I always use the rice cooker.

    3
    • Hi Lillie! Sorry the link to How To Freeze Rice was broken. I just fixed it. :) In the How To page, I mentioned that the rice has to be “packed” when it’s still hot (to trap moisture) but wait till cool to freeze it. :) Hope that helps!

      8
  2. Thanks for this Nami! I didn’t know you had to soak and drain Japanese rice, do you do the same when cooking in a rice cooker? :) I love rice cookers and they are so easy to use and you to focus on dinner. I never learned how to cook rice on the stove. I remember my mom cooking it in a kaldero (that’s what we call the pot we use to cook rice in the Philippines) and they LOVE the tutong (English translation accdg to the internet is rice crust! haha!).

    Behind-the-scenes are always fun to watch! :) So sorry to hear about your hand, hopefully it healed soon after.

    6
    • Lorely, you MUST soak and drain. Any Japanese recipes for cooking rice will say that. I know other kinds of rice don’t require soak and drain, but not Japanese rice. I think I’ve seen some recipes that don’t require soaking/draining but cooking time was close to 30 minutes (so maybe moisture goes in? I think the amount of water was like double?). Your rice will improve a lot by soaking, trust me. :)

      Thank you also for watching the video. You saw my red hand? I was washing the sink with hot water prior to taking the video, and I completely forgot to change to cold water. I was shocked when hot water came…. but pretended nothing happened. But clearly you can see my red hand!! 😀

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  3. I don’t have a rice cooker, so I’ve had to learn how to do it properly! Good post – nice, clear instructions. I’ve gone both ways with washing and not washing the rice. You’re right that the quality of the cooked rice is better (and it cooks faster) if you wash it first. Never thought to freeze rice – I’ll start doing that! Anyway, thanks for this.

    7
    • John, when you make rice, even though you eat the following day, I highly recommend you to freeze rice. The rice quality is much better than keeping in the refrigerator. :) And it’s so convenient to have frozen rice! I usually heat 2 minutes in microwave and rice is ready for lunch (for my portion). :) Thank you always for your kind comment!

      10
    • Hi June! So sorry for my late response. I like Koshihikari most, and buy rice from Far West Rice (but very limited places carry their rice). Japanese grocery stores carry Koshihikari, and that’s what I’d recommend. :)

      58
    • Hi Jeanette! I don’t think all rice needs to be soaked, but for Japanese short grain rice, we do need to soak first. Or at least that’s what everyone does in Japan. We soak rice and drain even though we use the rice cooker. :)

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  4. Adeline-SG

    Loving ur blog to the max, very informative, interesting. Thanks, Ms Nami for taking time and effort to share your bakes/ recipes with videos and step by step pics. Will try out soon.
    Hope you hand is fine now.
    Cheers,
    Adeline

    15
    • Hi Adeline! Thank you SO much for your support! My hand is okay now. I was so worried that my red hand will show on the video while I was washing, and it did show… :( I soak in iced water after. Than you for your kind words! :)

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  5. Nami, this is such a great tutorial on cooking rice! I personally prefer cooking my rice in a pot but I do have a rice cooker for emergency. Does cooking in a dutch oven make any difference? I have never done so but I’d totally try it if the rice comes out better. Thank for sharing!

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  6. ビデオ良く出来てました。とても分かりやすいし。無印良品から出ているご飯用の土釜おこげが、お値段も手ごろでいいそうですね。次回、買って帰ろうかと思ってます。

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  7. oscar

    I know how to cook rice, in our country, we eat rice in every meal, now that I’m here in USA, I used to cook rice in a rice cooker, also I cook rice in traditional hargd bottom pot that came from my country, I want to eat the burned bottom rice I let stay longer in top of oven, I want to try to cook Japanese rice if I can found here where I live. One more thing do you know or is there another wayf cooking brown rice?

    18
  8. I grew up cooking rice on a stove and I thought that was the only way it was cooked. Then I was introduced to Asian cuisine and noticed everyone had a rice cooker! I was given a rice cooker and it’s been the best gift ever – I use it every week xx

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  9. Chrissie

    Thanks for showing the way to cook rice on the stove. Most of us do not know how as it is very convenient to cook rice just by using the rice cooker. I have forwarded this link to my daughter. Sorry to notice your “red hand” though.

    21
    • Hi Chrissie! Thank you so much for sharing my post with your daughter. :) It’s pretty simple instruction in case we cannot use the rice cooker. It’s so convenient to use the rice cooker that I rarely need to use a stove top method. But once in a while it’s a nice change and we enjoyed it while I had to make rice this way for photo and video shooting. I should do this more often! :) Thank you for your kind words!

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  10. I have a recipe on my blog for stove top rice too! But I like yours because yours is for short grain rice while mine is for basmathi rice. It’s a little different. So valuable to know for when the rice cooker is out of order!

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  11. Kimmi

    Thanks for sharing these tips on cooking rice without a rice cooker! I usually only make rice on the stove when preparing rice congee, so this is new to me. I’ve learned to listen for the sound of boiling water as well, though I have to admit, there have been a handful of accidents when I wasn’t paying the proper attention… =)

    I hope that your hand is okay from after the filming — but the video is so helpful and fun to watch!

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    • Hi Kimmi! Me too, sometimes I try to multi-task and forget about paying attention to boiling sound. 😀 Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m happy to hear you like my videos and thank you for watching!

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  12. Rice is a huge staple in Middle Eastern cooking but the way it’s made is so different than the Japanese way. I had no idea. I’m sorry that your hand got scalded while making the video. I saw that it was getting red and wondered about that. I hope it’s ok. Thank you for making the video though. It helped.

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  13. Candice

    Thanks for making this video, Nami and Mr. JOC. Sorry to hear your hand was a little burnt.
    The video was very informative. I’ve always wanted to learn how to cook rice on the stove.

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  14. I’m not a fan of “single use gadgets” – precisely the reason I would never bother buying a rice cooker. I’ve even gone off kettles for that reason because you can just heat water on the stove.

    As A_Boleyn says – everyone should know how to cook rice properly. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people, and I don’t usually cook Japanese rice, but the next time I do I’ll refer back to here :)

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  15. Very nice Nami. Sometimes the simplest of things seem difficult. I really like your step by step, perfect.
    I am from southern part of India, and rice is a staple and this is one of the ways I cook rice. But, my mom cooks it with lots of water and then drains the water out. Her theory is she takes out a lot of the starch.

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  16. Oh yay! I learned so much from this…and I just emailed Ryan a link to your post. He loves cooking rice, and I think he’ll benefit from all these tips! I never knew to soak rice. Brilliant! Thank you for sharing sweet friend!

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  17. Only here in the States that we started cooking with rice cooker. Back home, we always cook rice in a pot and with open fire. Nice to see you doing it. Have a good week, Nami. :)

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  18. This is great! I still don’t own a rice cooker and have been thinking about getting one because my rice never turns out the way I want it to. Now I’m thinking I’m just using the wrong pot! Thanks for the tips Nami and I love the video!

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  19. never even know that japanese rice is needed presoaked prior to cooking, btw, i thought all short grain rice is easily overcooked when soaked…..
    btw, i’m jealous with your yellow crockpot Nami

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  20. Lava

    I know this may sound weird, but I cook rice in the microwave! I used to do it on the stove but i kept burning the bottom, and have to keep an eye on it. With the microwave I just kinda shove it in for about 20-30 mins and its done. It works well, but its probably not as good as the proper way. But I like cheating when it comes to cooking (^-^)

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    • Hi Lava! REALLY?!?!? I’ve never heard of it before!!! And I don’t think I turn on the microwave for more than 5 minutes. 😀 I didn’t know microwave can actually cook food for such a long time. Thanks for sharing your trick!

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      • Lava

        Yup! it works really well, kinda like a rice cooker. I just use a pyrex dish, and make sure the lid isn’t on otherwise it will overspill (^^;)

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  21. I have to admit, I have been totally cheating and cooking rice in the microwave. I am too lazy to even pull out my rice cooker since it’s big and bulky. I like your tips for the stove top method.

    PS.. freezing rice. I love that. I love to freeze single potions for myself since I am home alone at lunch. :) I think freezing rice has a much better texture than putting it in the fridge. :)

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  22. いつも電気炊飯器でごはんを炊いているので本当に勉強になりました。
    ご飯がないと生きられない私は両親の家まで電気炊飯器を送りました。(びびなびで20ドルで販売しておりました。びびなびでなにか購入したことがありますか。)とにかかくストオブでご飯できることは重要です。どうもありがとう =)

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  23. Great info, Nami! I never soak my rice, but will definitely start now. Lots of wonderful tips…I know my rice will be perfect from now on :)

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  24. Ciao Nami, you should write this article in nihongo for Japanese travelers. I often have Japanese guests (usually young) and the girls always say that they like to cook for us one evening, making sushi or other stuff, and then they panic when they see that I don’t have a rice cooker! I find it quite funny that I have to teach them how to cook rice, and they are very thankful, often they travel on, go to youth hostels, camping grounds and homestay around the worlds and they need to know how to cook rice! It is a basic skill that should not be forgotten

    Ciao
    Alessandra

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  25. I use rice cooker all the time because the last time I cooked without it many years ago was a total burning disaster :)
    I remember my grandmother never measue the water by cup but by fingers. She just pours water until it reaches the second line of her long finger from the top of the uncooked rice when dipped into the pot.

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  26. Nami, you have no idea how difficult it is for me to get the rice cooked properly for my Asian dinners – it is eiter too wet or too lumpy. I shall follow your instructions to the “Tee” now and then enjoy the recults of my labor (inspired by lovely Nami!).

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  27. Kathleen Bryce

    The video was great !
    I’ve always cooked rice on the stovetop as I don’t have room on the counter for a rice cooker though I have dreamed of having one. There are so many kinds of rice to try. I enjoy all of the variety.

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    • Hi Kathleen! Thank you for watching my video! I’m dreaming of having a slow cooker but I don’t have a room on the counter or in the cabinet…so I know what you mean. :) Thanks for writing!

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  28. Hi Nami,
    I am so glad you did a post on this. Sometimes, the most simple and basic things are hard to do especially if you have no experience with cooking. When I moved to the States 10 years ago, I really did not know much cooking and often struggled with making the rice.
    I like to cook pulaos/pilafs on the stove as I feel it retains the moisture well and does not dry out on me. But if I am cooking regular white rice, its usually the rice cooker. That way I can handle or do something else.

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  29. I’ve never soaked the rice first! Good to know! :) I don’t cook alot of short grain white rice, but I did buy a big bag of short grain sweet brown rice. I’ve cooked it a couple of times with not the best results. I did not soak it though. I know it cooks longer that white rice, but is there anything else that is different to cooking short grain brown vs. white (other than the cook time)? Thanks!

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  30. Apart from the soaking (I am always in a hurry!) I prepare the rice exactly this way… I love touching rice with my hands when I rinse it… but afterwards I cook in the rice cooker. I have already burnt two pans before buying the rice cooker;, but I didn’t have such a good teacher at the time 😉 I must try once more because many people say that rice from a bad rice cooker (like mine) is much worse than the one from a simple pan. Thank you for this useful recipe!

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  31. I had a Japanese roomate for a few months and she taught me how to make Japanese rice. I pretty much use that method with all kinds of rice now (when making white rice to accompany a dish). All her steps were the same (washing, covering with a lid and not peeking etc.) except for the soaking and draining. I will try it, I am sure it will turn out even better (and fluffier of course!).

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    • Hi Darren! I did a little bit research and found out a few reasons why the rice could be broken.

      1) Rinse the rice too harsh (for example, don’t wash in sieve).
      2) Drain the rice for too long. No more than 15 minutes. When the rice dries out completely, rice may be broken.
      3) Didn’t soak rice in water for long enough.

      I don’t think too much water was the reason for this. It’s more likely that rice was already broken before you started to cook? Hope this helps. :)

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  32. June

    Hi Nami:
    I’ve been enjoying your recipes, and have a question about the of water:rice ratio. Is it always 1/4 C. water more than the amount of rice? For example, with 1/2 C. rice do you add 3/4 C. water? For 2 C. rice is it 2 1/4 C. water? Thanks.

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    • Hi June! Thank you so much for reading my blog! The basic is that you need the same volume of water as the volume of soaked & drained rice (so in a way, measuring cup is not necessary and you can just use a regular cup, for example, to measure volume of soaked & drained rice, then add the same amount (volume) of water to the pot. Ratio should be around 1 cup: 1 1/4 cup water. However, each rice (brand of rice, type of rice) absorbs different amount of water, and you need to adjust according to your rice. Hope this helps! :)

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  33. Linda

    Hi Nami,

    You shouldn’t wash the rice until the water is clear, since most the goodness of rice is in the skin. Just wash it once or two times to get rid of unwanted particles. By the way, Brown Rice is far healthier than white rice, since it still retained some of the skin.

    77
    • Hi Linda! These days rice is milled very well, so I don’t think we need to rinse the rice till water is clear. Maybe my choice of words was not right. I removed “till water becomes almost translucent” but I usually rinse 3-4 times. Thank you so much for your feedback! I really appreciate it! I agree about brown rice. :)

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  34. Jane

    Hi. I’ve been seeing a lot of pictures comparing Japanese to American food servings (e.g. small Coke at McDonalds in Japan and US) and I wondered what a “normal” serving of plain rice is in Japan. Some sites say 150ml, others 380, more 200. So what is “normal”, and what is “modest” for an adult woman, for example?

    Thanks!

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    • Hi Jane! So I just had lunch actually and made ochazuke (I was reading your comment and had sudden craving. :)). In a regular-size rice bowl in Japan (probably consider small for American standard), I put rice just like how I serve normally, and it was about 1 cup. That’s about 240 ml. There are smaller rice bowls or even bigger ones for men. So the amount of rice that can fit in rice bowl varies due to the size of bowls… For modest for an adult woman, I think 240 ml is considered good amount of rice. But this is for typical Japanese rice bowl size. Hope this helps!

      80
    • Hi Tiffany! I’m not sure about other kinds of rice but Japanese short grain rice, yes. I never seen any Japanese recipe that tells you to skip soaking process…Japanese rice has high moisture content and it’s very important to soak. But I have to admit that I have skipped soaking several times as I was running behind…(and rice comes out drier as expected). Hope this helps!

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  35. Rachel

    Hi, I love your recipes they are so delicious! And the tutorials you have are great.
    I am in Israel and am having a hard time finding sushi/Japanese rice.
    Can I use regular brown or white rice to make sushi? will it come out like your rice if I follow your instructions, or does the type of rice make a huge difference?
    Thanks!

    83
    • Hi Rachel! I’m so happy to hear you enjoy my recipes and thank you for following my blog/videos! You really need short grain rice to make sushi if you want to make rolls or nigiri sushi. Rice will fall apart otherwise. Short grain rice has the right kind of moisture and stickiness (not sticky like glutinous rice). Hope you can find online, maybe?

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  36. Hello ;)

    It would take a very long time to use this recipe to make rice. 45 minutes is too long for me. Hungry children don’t want to wait. Is there a shorter way? Please reply to my needy question. Thank you very much

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    • Hi Hello! If you worry that your children can’t wait for the rice to be ready, you can rinse, soak, drain rice much ahead of time. I usually do that in the morning. Since I use a rice cooker, I set a timer for 6 pm, and the rice is automatically ready.

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  37. Barney

    I made おにぎり in school the other day. I loved it and wanted to make it at home. But I was told that you have to use sticky rice. This recipe was really helpful. Thank you so much.

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    • Hi Barney! The confusing part is that many people think Japanese short grain rice is “sticky rice” because compared to long grain rice each rice is stickier. However, the real “sticky rice” is glutinous rice (or sometimes called sweet rice) and it’s different from Japanese short grain rice. When you look for rice for Onigiri or Japanese food, I recommend to use the word “short grain rice” or Japonica. Hope this helps!

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  38. Fay

    Hello! I recently discovered this site and I’m eager to start making the recipes. I just tried this rice recipe, but my rice came out incredibly mushy and fat. My mom said I put too much water, but I used the amount of water proportional to the amount of water you used. I used 4/3 cups of rice and 1200 mL of water. I even checked with a proportions calculator to check that the amount of water was correct with the amount of rice. Was that too much water?

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    • Hi Fay! Welcome to my blog and thank you for trying this recipe already. Please be aware that water amount slightly varies depends on the type of rice – first, this recipe is for short-grain rice, and even the same Japanese short grain rice, new crop and older crop requires different amount (for newer crop, reduce the amount slightly). I hope you experiment to see the perfect amount of rice for your rice you’re using. When you finish cooking the rice (and wait for 10 minutes), the pot should not have any water left on the bottom. At step 5, make sure there is no water left. :) Hope this helps!

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  39. Ping L

    Hi Nami, may I ask if I were to use this recipe to make sushi rice do I have to reduce the amount of water since I need to mix vinegar into the rice later ? If yes how much water and vinegar should put ? Thanks in advance.

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  40. Poonnapa

    How should I reheat the frozen rice? By microwave? If so, for how long and at what power? Also, the instructions on the page for “How to freeze rice” are missing…

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  41. Linda Koester

    Thank you for sharing this recipe with us! We love to eat short grain rice, but I hate to cook it because it’s never right. Tonight however it came out perfect! I had to Pin it for next time…surprised I was the first to save it.
    Thanks again!

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    • Hi Linda! Thank you for trying this recipe and I’m so glad your rice came out well! :) Thank you for pinning. I updated the website not a long ago and I now use a different plugin so I lost all the pinning counts… although that’s okay. :) Thank you for your kind feedback. :)

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  42. Minh

    Argh! I can never make perfect Japanese rice! I’ve tried it many times with always the same result…mush. :((
    I followed your instructions to the T and I still have a bowl of mush.
    Doesn’t make a difference if I use a pot or a rice cooker. I was so excited to make onigiri with the two fillings I came up with tonight but can’t even use the rice. Guess I’ll be making congee (rice soup) instead.
    I give up.

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