Cooking Japanese Rice on a Stove

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.

daffodils_5615 Shinmai is new rice, fresh from the autumn harvest. Brown rice is called genmai (dark rice). It contains all the vitamins and nutrients, and has a deeper, nuttier flavor than seihakumai (white rice). There is an intermediate category, haiga-mai (rice-germ rice); the grains retain the germ and so has greater nourishment.

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)
Raw 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
Raw Rice:
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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33 thoughts on “Cooking Japanese Rice on a Stove

  1. Yes, all the ways to cook rice are confusing.

    This method works for me with Japanese rice, but my husband successfully uses a different method, so there are various ways to the same end.

    For the black rice, I just follow the directions that come printed on the package—it is delicious, isn’t it!

    • Hey thanks.

      I thought I was getting table html until I tried to help that woman on the forum with the rowspan, and I made it into quite a puzzle, thinking of it as one row being the height of 2 normal rows, then the 2 rows. Looking at it sideways, if you know what I mean. So thanks for putting that straight. If you even know what I’m on about…

  2. Yeah I remember – but who cares?

    These striped tables are quite nice: as if from a magazine!

    (Only thing I don’t agree with is the fullstops in the other tables!)

    • I care. “Nothing can come of nothing.” My attempt was a good lesson. It functioned, though in a round-about-way. (not so round-about as Word!) And I think no harm was done for the poster as you were quick enough with your elegant code.

      You’re right. Less is more. The daffodils should go too, I think.

  3. I mean the fullstops for blank lines and for the vertical bars of the monochrome tables. Some people (including me) set their browsers to display the colors they prefer instead of the original ones, and then your fullstops are plainly visible.

    • Ah. The light dawns! I forgot all about them. I don’t know how to fix that? The break code kept getting stripped out! Put on your forum cap and advise!

  4. For line breaks you can use paragraph padding-top or padding-bottom (they don’t get stripped out). For really invisible characters you can use “visibility:hidden”. (Check my source code: my posts are full of those.)

    • Thank you, yet again. I think I got them all—my eyes are crossed now from looking at all that code.

      Now I see my absolute position “tagline” looks terrible in Firefox. Must have made it in Safari, where it looks fine. Oh well, time to step away from the computer.

      btw: full stop must be British or technical. I just call those dots “periods!”

  5. Ah yes, sorry, checked and saw that fs = British, p = US…

    As for the tagline, if you want it in the grey bar instead of the usual place, I suggest you center it; need the code for that?

    • re: fs & p, it was charming…
      As for the code, I’d be interested in how to center it?

      You can see I’ve done a little experimenting with a background imgage—code from that kid who pops in and out occasionally on the forum. The z-index was the key. Does that not sound like I know what I’m talking about!

  6. You mean raul; yes, I’ve seen it. But raul thought he made a discovery specific to that new theme, while this is normal html – works with most themes (as you found out).

    To center your tagline:

    <div align="center" style="width:100%;top:246px;left:0;position:absolute;font-size:DEFINE;color:#HEX;z-index:11;">TAGLINE</div>

    • Yes, he’s just a kid I think. Kind of annoying, kind of cute…

      I’d played around with trying to get rid of the ugly grey background on this theme before—thanks to your inspiration—but I was not “getting” the z-index concept. Somehow, reading his code: something clicked in my brain and voila!!!

      Now, reading your centering code – it’s so logical! I’m such a novice that it would have taken me forever to figure it out. So thank you once more. <3

      Next project: cover those little black corners and the ugly lime green navigation tabs… Oh, yes, and write some posts.

      Have a good evening!

  7. (I don’t know if he’s a kid, but he sure has the kid look-ma-what-I-can-do mentality.)

    Masking the black corners and covering the header tabs with new ones are both possible; if you need any help, let me know.

    • The tricky part for me is remembering to watch the rice during the uncovered cooking part so the water doesn’t boil away!

    • We no longer wash it if it is japonica rice grown in California.

      My husband makes great rice, but my attention wanders so mine is often burnt.

  8. Mikey,
    I clicked on you for a random post and you brought me some rice. Thanks, Mikey. But what happened to the kitty in the picture… the orange kitty?

    ps: I found this link and would love the recipe:

    crisp fried tofu with garlic tsukemono

    I want all the easy-to-make, inexpensive vegan recipes. How do I find those on this site? :-)

    (I edited this comment to make the picture visible)

  9. Tess, you are the BEST.

    I love his lion cut. He looks radiant. And Gracey… what a cutie.
    Am going to make these recipes. I would LOVE it if you had a vegan category. I need to expand my Japanese horizons. Thank you so much for taking the time to grab these for me.

  10. Thanks, I’ll order it from the library. I like the cold vegan recipes on your page. Want some hot ones, too, which is bad cuz I’d like to go raw. Anyway, I am writing this, eating fried tofu. I don’t have the potato flour or the Japanese veggies. I cut up tofu and couldn’t wait to drain it. Just soaked it in All Purpose flour. Is that awful? I fried it and covered it with shoyu sauce and fresh chives and kale from my garden. It’s good. I was trying to stay away from fried foods but your picture was too hard to resist.

    • Oh, I don’t know much or anything about raw foods other than salads.

      The potato starch is available in Asian markets, and the closest substitute would be corn starch. It makes it so the tofu does not absorb much oil when you fry it. Me: I’m pretty much afraid of frying, especially deep frying, so not many of my recipes here involve doing that. But that recipe, yes, I made it often. I’m glad you reminded me about it since I forgot about it.

      Did you look at the recipe for purslane and cucumber gazpacho? It is not Japanese, but it would easily be adapted to vegan by eliminating the sour cream and mayo: maybe use or almond milk or unsweetened soy milk? As for the mayo, just use a little olive oil and lemon juice to make it tangy. Neither one of those would give you the thickness.

      I love Chinese chives. Have you tried growing them? Thinner than regular chives, a little garlicy, and if you let them bloom, they have beautiful white flowers in late summer / fall.

  11. I’ll have to find an Asian market. Actually, I came across one the other day and I’m trying to remember where it was…? I’m sure I can get the Chinese chives and noodles there. I grow regular chives, not sure what kind they are. I’m sure I just gained 5 pounds from that stir fry. Thanks for putting up that amazing photograph that made my mouth water and my waist grow! I’m going to try the cucumber gazpacho. I had the best gazpacho of my life in Madrid, Spain. It was the most amazing bowl of cold soup. You would not believe. The waiter came to our table after dropping off the bowl and he had a huge wooden block with loads of chopped fresh veggies and he just poured them in my soup.

    But I digress. I love food.


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