You don't have a rice cooker? Don't worry. You can easily cook fluffy and delicious Japanese short-grain rice in a pot! Let's learn how to do it!
Japanese short-grain rice is our staple food. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we eat all day, every day.
A rice cooker is a must-have kitchen tool in Japan, but I don't have it because I found it's so easy to cook on the stove, and it's so tasty.
So if you don't have a rice cooker like me but want to cook Japanese rice, you are at the right place!
- This recipe is for you if:
- You love Japanese rice
- You want to cook Japanese rice
- You want to know how to cook Japanese rice on the stove
Let me show you how to make it! Let's get started!
About this recipe
- How to cook Japanese short-grain rice
- Cooking time: Less than one hour
- Use a pot (No need for a rice cooker)
Types of rice
Rice comes in three different types: long-grain, medium-grain, and short-grain. Each type has its unique advantage for cooking with them depending on what you are preparing, which requires varying firmness levels when cooked.
- Long-grain rice: Dry, fluffy texture, milder flavor. Example: Jasmine rice.
- Medium grain-rice: Firmer consistency than long-grain and less starchy than short-grain. Example: Calrose rice
- Short-grain rice: Starchy, sticky, soft. Example: Short-grain Japanese rice.
Short-grain rice is a staple in Japanese cooking because it has an incredibly sticky texture and makes it perfect for sushi and onigiri (rice balls).
You can find more details about Japanese short-grain rice in the next section.
Let's talk about ingredients. As you already know, we will need these:
Japanese Short-Grain Rice
This recipe uses this short-grain white rice in the picture above, which is short, plump, and rounded oval.
Short-grain rice is starchy, soft, and sticky with a sweet flavor compared to long-grain rice.
The sticky texture makes it easy to pick with chopsticks and holds the shape like onigiri or sushi.
Besides short-grain white rice, there are also short-grain brown rice and glutinous rice (sticky rice).
We mainly eat short-grain white rice daily, but we also enjoy short-grain brown rice and glutinous rice (like this recipe: Sekihan(Azuki bean rice)).
In Japan, our water is soft water. I use filtered tap water for cooking rice.
Japanese short-grain rice prefers soft water because it is more absorbent and enables the grains of rice to soak up all that moisture.
On the other hand, hard water contains more minerals than soft water, and the mineral will stick to rice and prevent absorbing more water. As a result, the final product will have less moisture which can lead to being dryer overall.
So, if you find your rice is always dry, then it might be because of the water you use. Is your tap water hard or soft?
Japanese rice brands
We have more than 300 varieties in Japan. It's grown all over Japan, but mainly in the northern region as the weather is suitable for rice cultivation.
These are the top 3 popular brands:
- Koshihikari in Niigata
- Akitakomachi in Akita
- Yumeperika in Hokkaido
Koshihikari rice is the most famous and popular rice brand, and it is originated in Niigata.
It represents Japanese short-grain rice, so I think you can find it easily in your local Asian market.
Also, if you live in the US, I found that it's grown in California and you can buy it on Amazon: Shirakiku Rice, Koshihikari (affiliate link).
By the way, I buy Yumeperika almost all the time because I'm from Hokkaido and would love to support my hometown.
Here is the equipment I use for cooking rice.
- Staub cocotte pot (cast iron pot)
- Shamoji (rice paddle)
- Rice cooker cup
I love Staub pot, and I use it every day for cooking rice. You can use any pots if it comes with a lid, but I found the rice cooked in Staub pot more delicious than the one in a stainless steel pot.
It's great because the lid is heavy so that the steam stays inside the pot and makes the rice fluffy.
If you are looking for a pot for cooking rice, here is my recommendation.
- Staub cocotte 18cm: This is what I use.
- Staub rice cooker: This Staub pot is designed especially for cooking rice.
- Kamadosan donabe: If you love Japanese-style pot, this is highly recommended.
Shamoji (rice paddle) is like a big spoon, and we use it to stir and scoop rice. Traditionally, it is made of wood, but now it is made of plastic like the one I have.
The surface is embossed, so the rice does not stick to it, and it's easy to serve rice.
In Japan, we use a rice cup or rice cooker cup which is 180ml for measuring rice.
We also use a regular measuring cup which is 200ml for cooking, so please don't confuse.
"Masu"(square wooden cup) is used as a unit to measure rice for centuries until the '60s before following international measuring guidelines. 1 masu is 180ml, and this tradition remains even for now for some reason.
Well, now it's time to cook! Let's go over how to do it. You can also watch this video.
Each step is easy and simple.
- Rinse rice and soak in water, drain rice, and add water
- Bring to a boil
- Simmer (10 minutes) on low heat
- Turn off the heat and let it rest (10 minutes)
- Fluff with a rice paddle
Here you go! It's tender and fluffy and goes well with any dish!
If you have leftover rice, wrap one serving in cling wrap and keep them in the freezer. It will last up to one month.
When you store, the important point is to wrap the rice in cling wrap immediately, even if it's still hot.
Because if you wait for cooling down, then the water on the rice will evaporate and not be moist.
Also, I don't recommend storing it in the fridge because the rice will dry, and the texture will not be good.
Tips for perfect japanese rice
Here are 5 tips to make delicious Japanese rice.
#1 Rinse rice quickly
The very first thing you need to do is to rinse it.
Like washing vegetables before cooking, we should wash away all of the dirt, rice gran, or other elements that may have been included during its milling process.
Once in the water, the rice hydrate quickly (it’s like a dry food) and absorb the water together with those unnecessary elements released in the water, which we don’t want to.
Here is how to do it:
- 1st rinsing: Place rice in your pot or bowl, pour water enough to cover the rice, stir with your hand for a few times and drain the water right away.
- 2nd rinsing: Pour plenty of water, stir with your hand gently but quickly for several times and drain the water.
- Repeat rinsing 3 more times: It's not necessary to rinse until the water is clear. This cloudy color in your rice indicates that it has starch, which determines its sweetness, so don't rinse too much.
#2 Soak in water
Soaking in water is the key to fluffy Japanese rice.
If you skip it, your rice will be undercooked and lacking in fluffiness. It’s so essential.
Soaking time should be more than 30 minutes. You can easily see the difference between before and after soaking in the picture above (The one after soaking will turn a pure white color).
I usually cook rice in the morning so I rinse the rice after dinner and let it soak overnight. It’s ok to soak overnight.
#3 Rice to water ratio
This is so simple!
The general ratio is:
1.1 to 1.2 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice.
I usually use 1.1 cups of water and always get a great result. But depending on the rice, you may have to tweak that amount.
Is your rice old?
If you find out your rice is old (harvested and packaged more than a year ago), let’s add 1.3 times the amount of water.
Because old rice is dehydrated and requires more water than newer rice.
Also, if you love one rice brand, please stick to it because different rice brands require varying amounts of water.
I always buy the same brand and don’t need to think about tweaking the water amount.
#4 Let it rest
Once your timer is off, the rice is cooked and ready to be eaten. But hold on! There’s one more step before we can open it.
Let it rest!
When you finish cooking rice, the moisture appears on its surface, and the rice is a little too wet.
But if you let it rest with the lid on, then all that extra liquid will soak into each grain while cell walls swell up, giving them their fluffy texture.
So DO NOT OPEN!
Let it rest for 10 minutes, then you will have super fluffy and tasty rice!
#5 Always fluff the rice
When you’re done cooking, there is one last thing to do before serving in a bowl.
fluffing the rice!
Open the lid and fluff gently with a rice paddle (or a fork).
Fluffing the rice is an essential part of making perfect rice.
It allows your rice to separate and creates more air so that you don’t have clumpy or stuck-together rice when you serve.
If you plan to eat later and want the rice as fluffy as possible, don't skip fluffing the rice, it will make a huge difference in taste!
Mixing in grains for more nutrition
If you want more color or nutrition in your rice, you can mix these grains. You can add a couple of tablespoons when soaking the rice.
- Mochimugi: It's chewy barley. The dietary fiber is 20 times more than white rice. It's getting popular as diet food.
- Quinoa: It's super food originally from South America. It's famous for rich in good quality protein.
- Black rice: It's ancient rice. As you can see from this color, it contains anthocyanins which have benefits for antioxidants.
- Zakkoku rice: A mixture of various grains. In addition to the grains described above, red rice, green rice, amaranth, other barley(and so on) are included. The picture above contains 10 different grains.
How to enjoy Japanese rice
Once you cook the rice, let's enjoy it in the Japanese way.
This is how we serve Japanese meals: rice, main, side, and soup on a different plate like the picture above.
- Main: Koyadofu katsu
- Sides: Boiled okura, cherry tomatoes, cerlry and pickled cucumbers
- Soup: Miso soup (Carrot, shiitake mushrooms)
The most simple way
If you want to enjoy Japanese rice the most simple way, you might want to try these with rice.
- Natto: Fermented soybeans. It's sticky and not easy to eat but nutrient-rich food. (See Natto gohan recipe)
- Umeboshi: Pickled plums. It's sour and salty.
- Furikake: Mixed seasonings for rice. made especially for sprinkling on top of rice
- Ajitsuke nori: Toasted and flavored nori (seaweed) sheet.
Natto might sound weird if you haven't heard of it, but why don't you give it a try?? It is healthy and goes very well with fluffy rice.
We eat natto almost every day. Our usual breakfast is like this: rice with natto, miso soup, tamagoyaki, pickled vegetable (tsukemono), and cherry tomatoes.
I highly recommend making onigiri! Onigiri or rice ball is a Japanese traditional staple that we eat daily for any time, breakfast, lunch, dinner, between meals.
Japanese rice is clingy, sticky, and perfect for making a shape. If you haven't tried them yet, check my easy and straightforward recipe: 5 Onigiri without nori recipe
Make sushi rice
Mix the ingredients below, add to the cooked rice and stir until well blended (You can cut down on sugar and salt according to your taste).
- 3 tablespoons Vinegar (Rice vinegar would be perfect)
- 1 tablespoon Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Salt
Then you can make sushi rolls, and sushi bowls (I should make these recipes for you!).
More ways to enjoy Japanese rice
You should try Japanese-style curry, and if you have leftover rice, chahan (stir-fried rice) is the best choice!
Thanks For Stopping By
It's a lot of information, but the actual steps are simple and easy. Hopefully, you'll be able to adapt Japanese rice and enjoy the gentle flavor with your everyday meal!
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog♡ If you’ve tried this recipe(or any other recipe on the blog), please give it a star rating below!
Also, feel free to leave comments if you have any questions. I love hearing from you!
Chef JA Cooks is a Japanese food blog that shares simple and healthy Japanese home cooking recipes include vegan and vegetarian. From traditional Japanese recipes to modern recipes with step-by-step instructions.
More Rice Recipes You Might Like
- Brown rice in a pressure cooker
- Brown rice with black soybeans
- Sekihan (Azuki bean rice)
- Onigiri rice balls without nori
How To Cook Perfect Japanese Rice on The StovePrint Pin Rate
Measuring cup: 180ml (Japanese rice cup)
- 2 cups Japanese short-grain rice
- 2¼ cups Water, 405ml
Measuring cup: 200ml
- 2 cups Japanese short-grain rice
- 2¼ cups Water, 450ml
Measuring cup: 240ml
- 2 cups Japanese short-grain rice
- 2¼ cups Water, 540ml
- Rinse: Rinse rice under running water 3-4 times quickly.
- Soak: Soak the rice in water for more than 30 minutes.
- Bring to a boil: Drain rice, add water, and bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Simmer: Put the lid on and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.
- Rest: Turn off the heat, and let it rest for 10 minutes with the lid on.
- Fluff: Open the lid and fluff with a rice paddle gently.
- Equipment: Staub cocotte pot 18cm, Shamoji (rice paddle), Rice cup.
- Storage: If you have leftover rice, wrap one serving in cling wrap and keep them in the freezer. It will last up to one month.
- Portion (for using Japanese rice cup): This recipe will make four servings for adults and six for small children. One serving for adults: 150g, for children: 100g.
- After resting for 10 minutes, don't forget to fluff the rice. If you don't, the rice will get clumpy.
- Rice to water ratio: 1.1 to 1.2 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice.
Thanks for the information! I love Japanese food and want to learn how to prepare for myself. Got to start with the basics...start with rice !!!
Nice!! I'm so happy to hear that:) I hope you enjoy Japanese starchy rice!!
I’ve just heard about natto for the first time and like the idea of having it for breakfast, so I got to this recipe interested in cooking rice to have with it. A few places I’ve seen it mentioned that natto is good for breakfast, but if it takes almost an hour to cook the rice how do you have it ready quickly enough in the morning? I live alone, would you recommend to cook a small amount daily or do a big batch and reheat some each morning? Thanks in advance for your suggestions.
Thanks for your comment, Isabel! I will recommend cooking a batch and freeze. Just follow the recipe (cook 2 cups of rice), wrap one serving in cling wrap, and freeze them. You will have 6 to 8 servings like the picture in the Storage section. And when you eat rice, microwave it. That's what I do! This way, you will save more time than cooking a small amount of rice, and the taste is almost the same as fresh rice. If you have more questions, please let me know!
I wonder if you have tried the Staub rice cooker and if it makes any difference to a normal Staub cocotte.
Hi Carrie, I haven't tried the Staub rice cooker (cocotte de Gohan), but I heard that it tastes better and has more umami and sweetness because of the form of the pot. I would love to get one!