Easy Japanese Recipes

How To Cook Rice 美味しいご飯の炊き方

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

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.

Leave a Comment


+ 1 = three

  • A_Boleyn December 4, 2013, 4:54 pm

    Everyone should know how to cook rice properly. No rice cooker required. :)

    Reply
  • Kate@Diethood December 4, 2013, 5:14 pm

    Now that’s a technique!! Thanks, Nami, for sharing… I am forwarding this to my Mom! She’s going to appreciate it. :)

    Reply
  • Mi Vida en un Dulce December 4, 2013, 5:15 pm

    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.

    Reply
  • Lillie S December 4, 2013, 5:17 pm

    may i ask, shouldn’t the unused rice be cooled completely before freezing?

    Reply
    • Nami December 4, 2013, 5:51 pm

      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!

      Reply
  • Priscilla | ShesCookin December 4, 2013, 5:22 pm

    This is how I learned it from my mother and I still don’t own a rice cooker – too many gadgets, not enough kitchen space :)

    Reply
  • Lorely December 4, 2013, 5:24 pm

    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.

    Reply
    • Nami December 4, 2013, 5:55 pm

      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!! :D

      Reply
  • John@Kitchen Riffs December 4, 2013, 5:25 pm

    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.

    Reply
    • Nami December 4, 2013, 5:58 pm

      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!

      Reply
  • Belinda @zomppa December 4, 2013, 6:02 pm

    Good to know – I don’t usually let it drain or 15 minutes.

    Reply
  • Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen December 4, 2013, 6:17 pm

    I love Japanese Rice because it’s sticky

    Reply
  • June G. December 4, 2013, 6:21 pm

    You make rice just like my mom did:) what brand of rice do you use?

    Reply
    • Nami December 10, 2013, 11:13 am

      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. :)

      Reply
  • Jeanette | Jeanette's Healthy Living December 4, 2013, 6:58 pm

    Great tips Nami – I never soak my rice first, just put it in the rice cooker. Would you soak the rice before putting it in the rice cooker or is that only for stove-top?

    Reply
    • Nami December 4, 2013, 10:10 pm

      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. :)

      Reply
  • Adeline-SG December 4, 2013, 7:20 pm

    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

    Reply
    • Nami December 10, 2013, 11:14 am

      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! :)

      Reply
  • Yi @ Yi Reservation December 4, 2013, 8:06 pm

    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!

    Reply
  • nipponnin December 4, 2013, 8:40 pm

    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。

    Reply
  • oscar December 4, 2013, 9:00 pm

    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?

    Reply
    • Nami December 10, 2013, 11:16 am

      Hi Oscar! I don’t usually cook brown rice, so I’m not familiar with the best way to cook it. I also love burned bottom rice! So delicious. :)

      Reply
  • Hotly Spiced December 4, 2013, 10:53 pm

    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

    Reply
  • Chrissie December 5, 2013, 1:15 am

    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.

    Reply
    • Nami December 10, 2013, 11:18 am

      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!

      Reply
  • Jayne December 5, 2013, 1:21 am

    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!

    Reply
  • Kimmi December 5, 2013, 5:47 am

    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!

    Reply
    • Nami December 10, 2013, 8:51 pm

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

      Reply
  • Christiane ~ Taking On Magazines December 5, 2013, 6:43 am

    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.

    Reply
  • Sandra | Sandra's Easy Cooking December 5, 2013, 7:43 am

    That’s how i do cook rice because as you know I don’t have rice cooker, and you explained wonderfully in this post and video of course! I do use glass lid so I don’t have to open up and check on it :D
    Enjoy rest of the week, Nami!

    Reply
  • Kelly December 5, 2013, 7:52 am

    Great tips for cooking rice on the stove-top Nami! Thank you for sharing and that looks like the perfect bowl of fluffy rice :)

    Reply
  • Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health December 5, 2013, 8:49 am

    i use my rice cooker most of the time but its always nice to learn how to do in stove top too. Thanks for clarifying why to soak and rinse because I always wondered about that.

    Reply
  • Elizabeth @Mango_Queen December 5, 2013, 9:43 am

    Great basic how-to lesson on cooking rice, especially for those who grew up on rice cookers (like my sons did). I will pass on this post to them. Thanks for sharing, Nami. Enjoy the holiday season :-)

    Reply
  • Candice December 5, 2013, 9:44 am

    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.

    Reply
    • Nami December 10, 2013, 8:58 pm

      Thank you so much Candice! I’m glad it was helpful, and thanks for your sweet words. :)

      Reply
  • Charles December 5, 2013, 10:18 am

    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 :)

    Reply
  • Ash-foodfashionparty December 5, 2013, 11:14 am

    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.

    Reply
  • Monica December 5, 2013, 11:50 am

    As usual, great post and tutorial. You can make even a plain bowl of rice look irresistible! : )

    Reply
  • Rosa December 5, 2013, 12:51 pm

    Great tips!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    Reply
  • Evelyne@cheapethniceatz December 5, 2013, 1:02 pm

    Great tips for cooking Japanese rice, I have not cook some yet but want to try. It’s so confusing every rice is different lol.

    Reply
  • Minnie@thelady8home December 5, 2013, 3:16 pm

    Great tips Nami! Basic and essential.

    Reply
  • Monet December 5, 2013, 3:55 pm

    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!

    Reply
  • Lisa H. December 5, 2013, 7:56 pm

    I can’t cook rice without rice cooker, it will end up either not cook or burnt rice ;P

    Reply
  • Julia | JuliasAlbum.com December 5, 2013, 9:21 pm

    What a perfect, fluffy rice! Great tips. I never use rice cooker – I always cook rice in a pot, just like you!

    Reply
  • wok with ray December 5, 2013, 9:45 pm

    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. :)

    Reply
  • Mich Piece of Cake December 5, 2013, 9:58 pm

    Thanks for sharing these useful tips!

    Reply
  • My Kitchen Stories December 5, 2013, 10:30 pm

    Great idea Nami. Sometimes the simplest things are the ones that get us. Great video

    Reply
  • cquek December 5, 2013, 10:55 pm

    That looks beautiful!! nice and fluffy!! just the way I like my rice!

    Reply
  • madel vila December 5, 2013, 11:59 pm

    i want to know how to make my tempura crispy

    Reply
  • Laura | My Little Gourmet December 6, 2013, 3:58 am

    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!

    Reply
  • Dedy@Dentist Chef December 6, 2013, 5:43 am

    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

    Reply
  • Lava December 6, 2013, 8:48 am

    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 (^-^)

    Reply
    • Nami December 10, 2013, 9:00 pm

      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. :D I didn’t know microwave can actually cook food for such a long time. Thanks for sharing your trick!

      Reply
      • Lava December 11, 2013, 4:16 am

        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 (^^;)

        Reply
  • Ramona December 6, 2013, 1:42 pm

    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. :)

    Reply
  • Kumar's Kitchen December 6, 2013, 2:45 pm

    this is just the recipe we were looking for…we usually cook rice(long grained) in a pressure cooker…this recipe is going to come so handy for making sushi,thanks for sharing :-)

    Reply
  • Laura (Tutti Dolci) December 6, 2013, 4:35 pm

    Your rice looks absolutely perfect, though this doesn’t surprise me one bit :).

    Reply
  • The Ninja Baker December 7, 2013, 3:28 am

    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 =)

    Reply
  • Liz December 7, 2013, 9:21 am

    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 :)

    Reply
  • Alessandra December 7, 2013, 6:41 pm

    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

    Reply
  • Raymund December 9, 2013, 3:02 pm

    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.

    Reply
  • Natasha @ The Cake Merchant December 9, 2013, 6:56 pm

    What a great post, Nami! I always mess up rice, so I will try this the next time I make sushi at home.

    Reply
  • TheKitchenLioness December 10, 2013, 12:47 am

    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!).

    Reply
  • Kathleen Bryce December 11, 2013, 4:36 am

    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.

    Reply
    • Nami December 12, 2013, 9:52 pm

      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!

      Reply
  • Asmita December 11, 2013, 6:18 am

    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.

    Reply
  • mjskit December 11, 2013, 3:17 pm

    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!

    Reply
  • Sissi December 12, 2013, 9:28 am

    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!

    Reply
  • Nuts about food December 19, 2013, 3:29 am

    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!).

    Reply
  • Stephanie December 24, 2013, 10:42 pm

    I have a Zojirushi too! Only a 3 cup one though. =) Sorry about your hand!

    Reply
  • DarrenB March 5, 2014, 9:09 am

    What went wrong when my rice broke after cooking and fluffing. Too much water?

    Reply
    • Nami March 5, 2014, 10:03 am

      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. :)

      Reply
  • June March 12, 2014, 3:29 pm

    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.

    Reply
    • Nami March 14, 2014, 1:09 am

      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! :)

      Reply
  • Linda June 2, 2014, 5:51 am

    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.

    Reply
    • Nami June 2, 2014, 11:13 am

      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. :)

      Reply
Shio Koji Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken) | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com
Shio Koji Karaage 塩麹唐揚げ
eBook Cover
Just One Cookbook eBook – Essential Japanese Recipes