This Japanese corn rice is made with fresh summer corn and rice seasoned with soy sauce and generous amount of butter. The rich taste of butter and burnt soy sauce brings out the familiar flavor of Japanese street food. A delicious ode to summer!
This Japanese corn rice takes a special place in our family because it is easily the tastiest and satisfying summertime dish. Studded with sweet corn and bursting with a rich taste of butter and umami soy sauce, it is far more exciting than a plain steamed rice.
The beauty lies on its simplicity and versatility – you can literally serve the corn rice with any Japanese meal or other Asian-theme cookout or even a western BBQ. We love serving it with grilled meat and veggies, and sometime we make onigiri rice balls with it and pack them up for a picnic.
When fresh corn on the cob show up in your local market, I hope you will set aside a few and make this recipe!
What is Japanese Corn Rice
As the short-grain rice is cooked with other ingredients (sweet corn for this case), this recipe is considered a type of Takikomi Gohan (炊き込みご飯) or Japanese mixed rice. If you cook the corn separately and add to the cooked rice, then it’s called Maze Gohan (混ぜご飯).
Butter Shoyu Flavor
The seasoning cannot be any simpler – mainly salt and soy sauce to enhance the natural sweetness and flavor of corn. And once the rice is cooked, you add in butter to the hot steamy corn rice. The butter soy sauce (butter shoyu) will impart the most mouthwatering aroma, enough to wake up anyone’s appetite!
3 Flavor Options for This Recipe
After testing the recipe a few times, we as a family have a few suggestions.
Option 1: Salt + Sake Only
If you want to skip the butter, I’d suggest leaving out the soy sauce completely. In our opinion, simple salt-flavored corn rice tastes much better without the soy sauce. Sake is added for the umami and natural sweetness.
Option 2: Just Enough Butter + Less Soy Sauce
This is my personal preference – moderate amount of butter + 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. With less soy sauce, you’d get a much subtle color for the rice. The overall flavor is more rounded.
Option 3: More Butter + More Soy Sauce
Mr. JOC and our son are partial to this option because it has a richer “butter shoyu” flavor. They both prefer their food to have stronger taste. It really comes down to your personal liking. Regardless how you choose to season it, each one is equally delicious. The only difference for Option 3 is the rice will have a much darker color from the amount of soy sauce used.
How to Make Japanese Corn Rice
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Ears of corn
- Japanese short-grain rice
- Soy sauce
- Butter (I use unsalted; if you use salted butter, adjust the amount of salt)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Remove corn from the cobs
- Rinse rice and add to the heavy-bottomed pot (I used this Hario donabe, or rice cooker)
- Add seasonings, water, and corn (and cobs) on top.
- Cook the rice and let steam.
- Put the butter and freshly ground black pepper on top and fluff up the rice before serving.
How To Adjust Based on Rice Amount
For Japanese cooking, we calculate the amount of rice based on a rice cooker cup (1 cup is 180 ml).
For this recipe, I used 3 rice cooker cups of short-grain rice which yield roughly 5-6 people. Depending on the amount you would like to serve, please adjust the rice cooking liquid as following:
- 1 Rice Cooker Cup (180 ml) – 200 ml (2 tsp sake + 1-2 tsp soy sauce + water)
- 2 Rice Cooker Cups (360 ml) – 400 ml (4 tsp sake + 2-4 tsp soy sauce + water)
- 3 Rice Cooker Cups (540 ml) – 600 ml (2 Tbsp sake + 1-2 Tbsp soy sauce + water)
- 4 Rice Cooker Cups (720 ml) – 800 ml (2.5 Tbsp sake + 1.5-2.5 Tbsp soy sauce + water)
- 5 Rice Cooker Cups (900 ml) – 1000 ml (3 Tbsp sake + 1.5-3 Tbsp soy sauce + water)
If you don’t have a rice cooker cup handy, you can use the following measurement…. but it will not as precise:
- 1 rice cooker cup = ¾ cup
- 2 rice cooker cups = 1 ½ cups
- 3 rice cooker cups = 2 ¼ cups
- 4 rice cooker cups = 3 cups
- 5 rice cooker cups = 3 ¾ cups
Tips on Making Corn Rice
- Use fresh corn – For a simple dish like this, it is common sense to use fresh, raw corn on the cob.
- Remove kernels from cobs – Holding the cob steady, use a sharp knife and make long downward strokes on the cob, separating kernels from the cob. You can also buy this corn kernel peeler but I honestly prefer using a knife.
- Always soak Japanese short-grain rice – The amount of liquid for cooking the rice is the same as cooking white rice despite the addition of corn kernels. However, the seasonings (sake and soy sauce) should be included for the total liquid. I recommend adding the seasonings and fill up the required amount of liquid with water.
- Add the cobs – The cobs have a lot of concentrated sweetness, so don’t throw away! Include them in the pot (or rice cooker) for more flavor! Cut into desirable smaller pieces so the cobs will fit in your pot.
This is truly a quick and easy recipe that celebrates the best of summer produce, so I hope you find joy in making it!
Japanese Corn Rice
- 2 large ears of corn
- 3 rice cooker cups uncooked Japanese short-grain rice (Read the blog post if you want to cook less or more rice)
- 1 tsp kosher or sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt) (for cooking rice)
For Rice Cooking Liquid (600 ml total)
- ⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter (or more if you like; use vegan butter for vegan)
- soy sauce (for drizzling; optional)
- Gather all the ingredients. The white rice to water ratio is 1 : 1.1 (or 1.2 ). I used my Hario donabe in this recipe, but you can use a rice cooker (same measurement, and start cooking as usual) or heavy bottomed pot (for a better heat distribution).
To Rinse the Rice
- Add water just enough until it submerges all the rice. Then discard the water immediately (so the rice doesn't absorb the cloudy water). Tip: Rice absorbs water very quickly when you start rinsing, so don't let the rice absorb the first few rounds of water.
- Use your fingers to gently wash the rice in a circular motion for 15-20 seconds.
- Add water and discard the water. Repeat this process a couple of times until the water is clear.
- When the water is almost clear, drain well. Tip: Use a fine-mesh sieve to drain and shake off excess water.
To Prepare the Corn
- Peel away the outer leaves (if you have any) until you only have one thin layer of inner leaves remaining around the ear. Grasp the top of the leaves and the tassel together in one hand and pull them straight down in one firm tug, inverting the husk and the cob. Break off the leaves and the silks at the base of the ear of corn and discard them. Pick away any remaining silks (or just do your best to pick most of them). Rinse under cold running water.
- Holding the cob steady, use a sharp knife and make long downward strokes on the cob, separating kernels from the cob. You can also buy this corn kernel peeler but I honestly prefer using a knife to this tool. Cut the cobs in half or smaller pieces to fit in your pot.
To Prepare Corn Rice
- For 3 rice cooker cups of rice, you will need 600 ml of rice cooking liquid. In a measuring cup, add sake and soy sauce, and then add water till you have 600 ml.
- Add the well-drained rice in a heavy-bottomed pot and add the rice cooking liquid (600 ml).
- Add the salt and mix well. Make sure the rice is evenly flat on the surface.
- Add the corn kernels on top and flatten. DO NOT MIX. Rice cooks evenly when it is not mixed with other ingredients.
- Put the cobs on top of the corn and close the lid. Let the rice soak for 20-30 minutes before cooking (It's important to do so for Japanese short grain rice).
To Cook Corn Rice
- Start cooking on medium-high heat to bring to a boil (it should takes about 13-15 minutes). When boiling, reduce the heat to low and cook for 13-15 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and remove from the stove. DO NOT OPEN THE LID. Let it steam for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, open the lid and remove the cobs.
- Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper and add the butter on top.
- Cover the lid and bring the pot to the table. Fluff the rice and serve immediately.
- You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 1 month.