There are a lot of things I’ve learned from my momma and I think one of the most important of those things is how to make good, plain Japanese rice. Since Japanese food is pretty trendy these days I thought I’d share my knowledge with you, just to make sure you’re getting the real good stuff. There’s tons of delicious rice in the world… I love jasmine and basmati for Thai and Indian curries. But nothing beats a bowl of delicious, high-quality, white rice when you’re going plain. All the flavor and deliciousness is already there; it doesn’t need any help from any spices or condiments. That’s Japan for ya… finding beauty in simplicity.
To get the best rice, you have to start with the best stuff. If you are lucky enough to have an Asian grocery store near you, you might be able to get your hands on some really high-quality rice. They can get pretty pricey, but trust me, if you’re willing to shell out the money, the quality and flavor of the rice is well worth it. I could eat this stuff all day long.
These grains are like precious pearls.
However, if you’re like me and the only store near you is a Wal-Mart, you’ll have to settle for this:
It’s not amazing, but it works.
So this is how to do it. Get out your rice cooker and your rice cup.
This is one rice cup of rice. Most rice cookers come with one of these… do not ever lose your rice cup! The reason why is that one rice cup of rice…
…does not equal one normal cup, as you can see above.
Pour the desired amount of rice into the rice cooker pot. I did two rice cups full.
Now’s the important part. We need to wash the starchiness away from the grains. This makes the rice really nice and shiny and fluffy in the end.
Fill the pot partway with warm water straight from the faucet…
…then stir everything around with your hand until the water gets all white and cloudy.
Carefully pour out the cloudy water, trying not to lose any of the rice. I usually shield the rice with my other hand and let the water drain through my fingers, but I needed that hand to hold the camera with this time. Also, I don’t usually do everything left-handed.
Now briskly stir the rice around with your hand to rub the grains together. It should sound like shakka shakka shakka. That’s just the way my momma taught me.
Repeat the rice washing process until the water is clear enough to see the individual rice grains through it. I usually call it good after I’ve washed it three times.
Fill the pot up with water up to the line that corresponds with the number of rice cups of rice you poured in. If you look closely at the above picture, you can see that my water line goes up to the “2” because I used two rice cups of rice.
*Warning: Make sure you’re looking at the side of the pot that says “Other Rice.” Usually the other side says “Brown Rice,” and the water levels are a little bit different for that.
Now place the pot inside of the rice cooker but hang on! Don’t turn it on yet. Don’t even plug it in yet. You need to let the rice rest for 15 to 30 minutes. I promise it’s worth it.
Once you’re finished letting the rice chill out, plug it in and turn it on. My rice usually takes about 20 minutes to cook. This is a good time to work on your other entrées.
Warning: While the rice is cooking, do not, under any circumstances, lift the lid to check on it or stir the rice. The pressure of the steam that builds up under the lid is crucial to the cooking process. If you can’t control your curiosity, get a rice cooker with a clear lid.
My momma always told me to make sure the steam blow hole isn’t right under the cabinets. This is to preserve the life of your cabinets.
When the rice is done cooking you’ll hear the switch pop back up. Or if you have a fancier machine than mine, it might sing and dance or something. But don’t get too excited and lift the lid off right away! The rice turns out even better if you leave the lid on and let the rice sit for another 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, you can finally take the lid off. It should look fluffy and smell delicious.
Get your rice paddle out to stir your rice around a bit. You’ll want to stir it around at this point even if you’re not ready to eat it yet. This is so you don’t get parts that are crispy and parts that are soggy. See the golf-ball-like dents all over mine? That helps the rice not stick to the paddle as much. My momma got it for me. It also makes great gnocchi. I’m serious.
Stir, don’t mash, the rice around. You want to keep it light and fluffy. Just scrape the bottom and turn it over a few times.
Now it’s ready to serve! Turn this into a staple at your house and you’ll save money and eat healthily. All you have to do is prepare some small and simple side dishes to go with it each time.
Rice doesn’t store in the fridge very well, so this is what I do with the leftover rice: take pieces of Saran Wrap and wrap up single portion sizes of rice, then freeze them. Then, whenever you want to eat rice, take out a portion and heat it up in the microwave for a few minutes.