Whether you’re making donburi, rice balls or simply a bowl of rice to accompany a dish, knowing how to cook rice is probably one of the most important requirements for Japanese cooking.
Japanese people eat rice nearly every day, it’s not a myth! They say “One grain of rice is a thousand Gods”, just this saying alone shows the importance of rice to Japanese people.
Types of Rice
There are many types of rice and different cuisines use different kinds of rice, interesting right?
- India – Long grain Basmati rice
- Italy – Short grain Arborio rice (for risotto)
- Thailand – Long grain Jasmine rice for savory, short grain sticky rice for sweets
- Mexico – Medium-long grain Sinaloa
- Japan – Short grain rice
These are just a few random examples but the type of rice usually perfectly compliments the cuisine!
Nearly every home in Japan has a rice cooker, I’m yet to meet someone who doesn’t own one.
Rice cookers don’t only cook the rice to perfection every time, they usually have extra nifty features like keeping the rice warm after it’s cooked and a timer so you can set it before work and it’s ready when you come home.
In fact, because rice cookers are so common, many young Japanese people don’t know how to cook rice from scratch!
But of course, cooking rice is an important skill and many people in Western countries don’t have rice cookers because they don’t eat rice so often.
The way Japanese people cook rice is quite different to other countries, they aim for a fluffy but slightly sticky texture which is perfect for things like sushi and onigiri. And that’s what I want to teach you how to make today!
Tips and Facts for Cooking Rice
Here are some tips for cooking fluffy sticky Japanese style rice
- Wash the rice first (this removes the top layer of starch and allows water to absorb more evenly in the grain)
- Soak the rice for about 30 minutes (in the Winter, it is suggested to soak it for up to 1 hour! This allows even cooking)
- Don’t be tempted to cook the rice in boiling water to speed it up, adding cold water to the rice and bringing it up to the boil, allows the grains to cook evenly.
- We base our portion on about 75g of uncooked rice per person. White rice triples in size so don’t underestimate it!
- Don’t be tempted to take the lid off (well a quick peak doesn’t hurt… but not too much!) or mix it, the perfect rice is the rice that hasn’t been disturbed whilst cooking.
- At the end of the process, we turn off the heat and leave the lid on. Even though the heat is off, the rice is continuing to cook in its steam and this part of the process is one of the most important, you can’t skip it or rush it!
- This rice is perfect for our donburi and onigiri recipes.
Can You Reheat Rice?
I know there’s a myth that eating reheated rice can cause food poisoning. Although it might be true, I’ve never had food poisoning from rice and I eat reheated rice on a regular basis! As long as you follow good hygiene and storage methods, I can promised that the rice will be safe to eat after being heated again!
I personally always make more rice than I need and put the unused rice in a tupperware container. I then leave it to cool with the lid slightly askew for about 20-30 minutes and store it in the freezer to prevent any germs growing.
When you want to use it, you just microwave it for a few minutes, no hassle. (600W 3mins / 500w 3mins 30 seconds)
If you do freeze it, don’t press it down and pack the container with too much. Mix it up and put it in the container softly, without pressing it down, otherwise it won’t microwave nicely. Frozen rice is great for making fried rice too, you can cook it straight in the frying pan from frozen!
Let’s try and make fluffy Japanese rice in a pot!