Perfect Japanese Rice

Prep Time
Cook Time
1h 57m
Ready In

"Making perfect Japanese rice is an art form, and sushi apprentices take years to learn the absolutely perfect technique - long before they're allowed to even touch a piece of fish. When it comes to Japanese rice, the rinsing, drying and soaking steps are the most critical parts of cooking properly textured, properly tasting rice. No skipping steps is allowed!!! The rice should taste very clean, with a slightly sticky texture so that the grains adhere to each other if you press them together lightly. However, each grain is still intact and not at all mushy. It is definitely not "fluffy". The technique in this recipe won't take you years to learn, but it's a good approximation to great Japanese rice. YES, this seems like a lot of time and steps to make simple rice. But it's a technique, really - and a lot of the time is resting time. Once you have it down, you can incorporate the steps into your day and it will just be habit. (From Makiko; The Just Bento Cookbook)"

Original recipe yields 4 servings


  • Serving Size: 1 (173.6 g)
  • Calories 254.3
  • Total Fat - 0.4 g
  • Saturated Fat - 0.1 g
  • Cholesterol - 0 mg
  • Sodium - 131.3 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate - 58.2 g
  • Dietary Fiber - 1.1 g
  • Sugars - 0 g
  • Protein - 2.4 g
  • Calcium - 15.7 mg
  • Iron - 0.5 mg
  • Vitamin C - 0 mg
  • Thiamin - 0 mg

Step 1

Measure the rice into the sieve, and put the sieve into the bowl. Run cold water from the tap at a fairly slow stream into the sieve/bowl. Rub the rice grains gently between your fingers. The water will turn very milky and opaque.

Step 2

Lift the sieve out of the bowl. It's important to not let the rice sit in that milky water, otherwise it will be re-absorbed into the grains and the cooked rice will not taste as clean as we want it to be. Discard the water in the bowl. Repeat the fill with clean water: rub grains gently - drain away the cloudy water - until the water in the bowl is pretty clear. (Don't rub the grains together too hard or you may break them up, which is not the idea.) With most Japanese rice you only need to do the above 3 steps about 4-5 times

Step 3

Drain the water away from the rice once again. Suspend the sieve over the bowl to let the rest of the water drain away from the rice, for at least 15 minutes. 30 minutes is ideal.

After draining for 30 minutes, the rice grains should look very white and a bit opaque.

Step 4

Put the rice and 1 3/4 cups water in the pot. This about 1.1 times the rice in volume. Leave the rice to soak for at least 30 minutes, 1 hour is ideal. Soaking the rice ensures that the moisture penetrates each grain, so that they cook evenly and thoroughly in a relatively short time without getting mushy or leaving a hard uncooked center.

You can soak the rice for longer, up to a half-day or so. If you're cooking rice for dinner, you can rinse the rice in the morning and cook it when you get home (or set the timer on your cooker accordingly). If you are cooking rice for a bento you're going to be packing in the morning, rinse the rice and set it to soak at night.

Step 5

Put the pot on the hob over medium heat on the low side. Set a kitchen timer for 12 minutes and forget about it until the timer goes off. Do not open the lid. You should hear the pot start to boil. Eventually you should see steam coming out of the edges of the lid.

Step 6

Turn the heat off, and let it rest for 10 to 20 minutes.

Step 7

Stir up your rice with a rice paddle. Use the paddle to turn up the rice away from the sides and the bottom. The stirring-up process helps any remaining excess moisture to evaporate, so the rice grains don't have a chance to get mushy. (Tip: this stirring-up is especially important if you are using a rice cooker and using the keep-warm function. If you don't stir up the rice the bottom parts get rather water logged.)

Tips & Variations

  • Fine-mesh sieve
  • Bowl that the sieve can fit over
  • Heavy-bottomed cast iron pot with a heavy lid