How to Cook Japanese Rice in a Rice Cooker

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  • How to Cook Japanese Rice in a Rice Cooker: Follow my rice to water ratio tips, and you’d get the perfect steamed rice every time! No more mushy or dry rice!

    Japanese rice bowls containing perfectly cooked Japanese rice.

    The Japanese eat rice almost every day, sometimes 3 meals a day! Cultivated for thousands of years in Japan, rice places a highly important place in the culture and is the quintessential staple of the Japanese diet.

    When comes to the quality of the rice down to the cooking technique, we take every aspect seriously.

    Today I will share how the Japanese cook rice in a rice cooker. Most importantly, how we measure rice and water to achieve a perfect result.

    How to Cook Perfect Japanese Rice in a Rice Cooker | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    The Rice to Water Ratio for Short-Grain Rice

    Over the years, I’ve received a lot of questions from my readers asking why their rice comes out dry.

    And I think I know the reason.

    Most online resource (in English) for the rice to water ratio for short-grain rice is 1 : 1 (rice : water).

    But what you probably didn’t know is this:

    The Japanese golden rule for rice to water ratio is 1 : 1.1 (or 1.2).

    That is 10-20% more water (that you didn’t add)! For 1 rice cooker cup (180 ml), you will need 200 ml of water, not 180 ml.

    That means, if you still want to use a 1:1 ratio, the rice must be soaked in separate water for 20-30 minutes (for that extra 10-20%), drain well, and add the measured (a 1:1 ratio) water. This way, you made sure your rice got moisture it needs.

    Most recipes online do not include that step, which means the rice is missing the additional 10-20% of water that it needs.

    Japanese rice bowls containing perfectly cooked Japanese rice.

    So… Exactly How Much Water Do You Need for Each Cup?

    The plastic rice cooker cup that comes with the rice cooker is a 180 ml cup. In Japan, this amount is called ichi go (一合). Here’s how much water you need for each rice cooker cup when you follow the 1:1.1 (or 1.2) ratio.

    1 rice cooker cup (180 ml) = 200 ml
    2 rice cooker cups (360 ml) = 400 ml
    3 rice cooker cups (540 ml) = 600 ml 
    4 rice cooker cups (720 ml) = 800 ml
    5 rice cooker cups (900 ml) = 1000 ml
    Calculation: 180 ml x 1.1 (or 1.2) = 198 ml (or 216 ml)

    🤫 If you don’t want to be so precise, pour water just a little bit above the marked water line (see below). You can always adjust the amount of water after you see the result.

    How to Cook Perfect Japanese Rice in a Rice Cooker | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com
    For 3 cups of rice, add water to the exact 3 cup line (540 ml), then add 10% more water (54 ml).

    Important Tip: Never Skip Soaking!

    Short-grain rice always requires soaking (20-30 minutes) unlike other kinds of rice.

    The rice grains are rounder and fatter so they need a head start to absorb moisture to the core of the rice kernel.

    For newer rice cookers, about 10-minute “soaking” time has already been programmed into the rice cooking menu. However, in my opinion, 10 minutes is not sufficient. I would suggest giving at least 20-30 minutes to soak and revive the rice.

    Remember…

    • 1 Rice Cooker Cup (180 ml / 150 g) – yields 330 g of cooked rice, which is about 2 bowls of rice (150 g per bowl) or 3 rice balls (a typical Japanese rice ball is 110 g).
    • When you use a new crop (新米) reduce the water slightly.
    • Different brands of rice – require a slightly different amount of water.
    • No measuring cup? Use a mug to measure rice and water (exact same volume). Soak the rice for 20-30 minutes and drain well. Then add the measured water (a 1:1 ratio approach).

    My Favorite Rice Cooker

    The rice cookers in Japan are more high tech and have a very futuristic look, but they are also very expensive. The rice cookers, which many of my friends in Japan have, would have cost $1,000!

    Those of us who live outside of Japan don’t have too many (fancy) choices. Since I came to the US, I’ve been using only Zojirushi brand rice cookers (3 of them).

    Zojirushi Rice Cooker | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com

    This is my current rice cooker by Zojirushi. It is a 5.5 cups Zojirushi Induction Heating Pressure Rice Cooker & Warmer (Amazon).

    As we eat rice at home almost every single day, I depend highly on a superior quality rice cooker to cook the perfect rice for my family.

    Zojirushi rice cooker uses pressurized cooking and AI (Artificial Intelligence) to cook rice. It also has a platinum infused nonstick inner cooking pan that brings out the natural sweetness of the rice.

    The other features include:

    • Automatically selects from three pressure levels according to the menu selected
    • Healthy cooking options: brown rice and GABA brown rice settings
    • Menu settings include: white (regular, softer or harder), umami, mixed, sushi/sweet, porridge, brown, GABA brown, steam-reduce, scorch, rinse-free and quick cooking
    • Made in Japan

    With this rice cooker, I’ve never once needed to worry about dry or mushy rice. It is absolutely one of the must-have kitchen gadgets I can’t live without!

    If you’re interested, you can purchase the rice cooker on Amazon.

    I hope you’ve found the above tips helpful. I’ve also included more topics on rice after the recipe below. If you have more questions, leave me a comment below!

    Japanese rice bowls containing perfectly cooked Japanese rice.

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    4.64 from 19 votes
    Japanese rice bowls containing perfectly cooked Japanese rice.
    How To Make Rice in a Rice Cooker
    Prep Time
    5 mins
    Cook Time
    55 mins
    Soaking Time
    20 mins
     

    How to Cook Japanese Rice in a Rice Cooker - Following my rice to water ratio tips, you get the perfect steamed rice every time! No more mushy or dry rice!

    Course: How to, Side Dish
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: rice
    Servings: 2 rice bowls
    Author: Nami
    Ingredients
    ★ White Short-Grain Japanese Rice
    1 rice cooker cup (180 ml)
    • 200 ml water (Not warm or hot)
    2 rice cooker cups (360 ml)
    • 400 ml water
    3 rice cooker cups (540 ml)
    • 600 ml water
    4 rice cooker cups (720 ml)
    • 800 ml water
    5 rice cooker cups (900 ml)
    • 1000 ml water
    ★ Brown Short-Grain Japanese Rice
    1 rice cooker cup (180 ml)
    • 300-320 ml water
    • pinch kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; Use half for table salt)
    2 rice cooker cups (360 ml)
    • 570-600 ml water
    • pinch kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; Use half for table salt)
    3 rice cooker cups (540 ml)
    • 900 ml water
    • pinch kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; Use half for table salt)
    4 rice cooker cups (720 ml)
    • 1200 ml water
    • pinch kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; Use half for table salt)
    Instructions
    Before You Start...
    1. The rice to water ratio is 1 : 1.1 (or 1.2 ). Please read the blog post for a detailed explanation.

    To Rinse the Rice
    1. Overfill the plastic rice cooker cup (180 ml) and level off. In this recipe, I'm using 3 rice cooker cups (540 ml).

      How to Cook Rice in Rice Cooker 1
    2. Add water just enough till it submerges all the rice. Then discard the water immediately. Repeat this process 2-3 times. Tip: Rice absorbs water very quickly when you start rinsing, so don't let the rice absorb the first few rounds of water.

      How to Cook Rice in Rice Cooker 2
    3. Use your fingers to gently wash the rice in a circular motion for 10-15 seconds. Repeat this process 1-2 times.

      How to Cook Rice in Rice Cooker 3
    4. Add water and discard the water. Repeat this process 1-2 times.

      How to Cook Rice in Rice Cooker 4
    5. Repeat this process 2 more times.

      How to Cook Rice in Rice Cooker 5
    6. When the water is almost clear, drain well. Tip: Use a fine-mesh sieve to drain and shake off excess water.

      How to Cook Rice in Rice Cooker 6
    7. Transfer the drained rice to the rice cooker (I use the Zojirushi IH). Add water (600 ml for my 3 rice cooker cups).

      How to Cook Rice in Rice Cooker 7
    To Cook the Rice
    1. Soak the rice for 20-30 minutes (especially if you're using an older rice cooker). Select your menu and press "Start". Tip: Even though my rice cooker includes soaking time, I soak my rice for 20-30 minutes. Note: For this Zojirushi rice cooker, 3-cup "regular" white rice takes 55 minutes to cook, which already includes a 10-minute soaking time and 10-minute steaming time in the program.

      How to Cook Rice in Rice Cooker 8
    2. Once the rice is done cooking, let it steam for 10 minutes (if your rice cooker does not include the steaming time). Open the lid and fluff the rice with a rice paddle.

      How to Cook Rice in Rice Cooker 9
    To Store Cooked Rice
    1. Transfer the rice in airtight containers and close the lid to keep the moisture in. Let cool completely before storing the containers in the freezer (read my tutorial post).

      Glass airtight containers with steamed rice in them.
    Recipe Notes

    1 Rice Cooker Cup (180 ml / 150 g): It yields 330 g of cooked rice, which is about 2 bowls of rice (150 g per bowl) or 3 rice balls (a typical Japanese rice ball is 110 g).

     

    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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