However many dishes are served at a meal, the meal is not complete without rice. The most basic meal is rice, miso soup, and pickles. Japanese rice is a short-grain variety, plump and tender, but firm enough to get your teeth into and sticky enough to eat in with chopsticks. Kome is the word for uncooked rice, usually spoken of with the honoricfic “o”—okome. As soon as the rice is cooked, it becomes either meshi, gohan, or raisu.
The water-to-rice ratio can vary, depending on how long the rice has been stored, the type of pot you are using how heavy the lid, the total volume, and the level of heat. A small amount of rice will need a little more water than a large amount of rice. Generally white rice requires the amount of water to 120% of the volume of dry rice. Unpolished brown rice requires an amount of water equal to 250% of the dry rice volume. Newly harvested shinmai rice is cooked in equal amounts of water.
|Haigamai, partially polished rice, or American enriched rice
does not need rinsing. Rice for sushi should not be soaked.
Rinsing and soaking rice: Japanese white or brown rice needs to be washed before cooking it. Place it in a bowl, cover it with cold water, and rub it in the water for 10 to 20 seconds. Quickly discard the liquid. Add fresh water, and repeat this process three times. After rubbing the rice, do not let it stand in the cloudy water, or the grains will absorb an unpleasant flavor from the liquid. Finally, soak the rice in the measured amount of clean cold water for half an hour in summer (an hour in winter). You will cook the rice in this soaking water.
|White Rice and Water|
|Seihakumai (white rice) and Haigamai (partially polished rice)
||Water:||Yield in pounds:|
|3/4 cups||1 cup||.7|
|1 1/2 cups||1 3/4 cups + 1 Tablespoon||1.4|
|2 1/4 cups||2 2/3 cups + 2 teaspoons||2.1|
|3 cups||3 1/2 cups||2.8|
Cooking the rice:
This is a bit different from the traditional method. Place the rice and measured water in a heavy-bottomed pot. Select a pot that is deeper than wide. Choose a pot that is at least three times deeper than the water level after you have put the rice and water into the pot. Also the pot should have a heavy tight-fitting lids.
|Brown Rice and Water
||Water:||Yield in pounds:|
|3/4 cups||2 cups||.7|
|1 1/2 cups||3 3/4 cups||1.4|
|2 1/4 cups||5 1/4 cups + 2 Tablespoons||2.1|
|3 cups||7 1/4 cups||2.8|
Put the pot over medium heat. Cook the rice uncovered until the water level is decreased almost to the level of the rice. Reduce the heat to very low, cover the pot with a heavy lid, and continue cooking the rice until all the water is absorbed and the grains plump. The exact cooking time depends on the type of pot, the amount of steam that escapes, and the quantity and condition of the rice.
The standard time for cooking 1 1/2 to 2 1/4 cups white rice is 10 to 15 minutes uncovered and another 10 to 15 minutes covered. The standard time for cooking brown rice is 15 to 20 minutes, uncovered, and 15 to 20 minutes covered.
Let the cooked rice stand, covered, for 10 minutes. This resting allows the moisture to settle into the rice grans, which makes the rice easier to toss.
Toss the rice gently with a wooden or bamboo rice spatula. It is ready to serve.
|Measuring cups in Japan, particularly those used for cooking rice in a rice cooker are smaller than the standard U.S. cup: about four-fifths the volume.
If you are using a rice cooker, follow the directions that came with the rice cooker. The measurements here are in U.S. cups, for cooking your rice in a pot on the stove top.
Another type of rice used in Japan is mochi-mome (glutinous rice, or sweet rice); this rice has even shorter grains and is used in celebratory dishes, for making mochi, or sweets. Glutinous rice requires a volume of water equal to 80% of dry rice volume. We’ll leave the cooking of glutinous rice for another post; it’s quite different from preparing white or brown rice.
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