How to Cook Perfect Japanese Rice on The Stove

No rice cooker? No problem! Learn How to Cook Japanese Rice on the Stove for fluffy and delicious results, and savor a wholesome Japanese meal at home – read on!

Looking for Japanese rice dishes? Try my Egg Onigiri, Daikon Takikomi Gohan, and Chirashi Sushi!

Japanese short grain rice on the stove

I’ll walk you through the ingredients and step-by-step instructions. I hope you enjoy it!

Why You Will Love This Recipe 

  • You will learn the essential knowledge about how to cook Japanese rice.
  • You will get plenty of helpful tips for the perfect Japanese rice.
  • You can use any pot you have in your kitchen.

Japanese Short-grain Rice

Japanese short-grain rice is short, plump, and rounded. Once cooked, it becomes starchy, soft, and sticky with a sweet taste. This stickiness helps when using chopsticks and shaping them into dishes like onigiri or sushi. In addition to short-grain white rice, there are also varieties like short-grain brown rice and glutinous rice, commonly known as sticky rice. Sticky rice is used in making treats like mochi rice cakes.

Recipe Ingredients

You’ll need the following ingredients to make this Japanese Rice Recipe:

Japanese short grain rice
  • Japanese Short-grain Rice: The most popular brand is Koshihikari. That would be the best choice if you can find it at your local store. Additionally, rice labeled as Sushi Rice on the package is also a suitable option.
  • Water: In Japan, our tap water is soft, which helps make the rice fluffy because it gets deep into the grains. If you can, it’s best to use soft water. If your water is hard, the cooked rice will be drier compared to using soft water.

Types of Rice

Rice is a staple food consumed in many countries worldwide. It comes in various varieties and can generally be categorized into three types.

  • Short-grain rice is known for its starchy, sticky texture and softness. Japanese rice, often labeled as Sushi Rice on some packages, belongs to this category.
  • Medium-grain rice has a firmer consistency than long-grain and is less starchy than short-grain. Calrose rice is an example of this type.
  • Long-grain rice, characterized by its dry and fluffy texture along with a milder flavor, includes varieties like Jasmine rice.

Cooking Equipment

Here is the equipment for cooking Japanese rice on the stove.

Staub pot, syamoji, Japanese rice cup
  • Pot: You have various options for pots: stainless steel, a regular saucepan, or a pressure cooker (cooking time is shorter). I use a Staub cocotte pot 18cm, which is made of cast iron, in this recipe. If you have a Staub, it’s ideal because the heavy lid traps steam inside, resulting in fluffy rice. Alternatively, a Japanese clay pot, “Kamadosan,” is also an excellent choice if you’re in search of a new pot.
  • Shamoji (rice paddle): 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. A large spoon works just fine if you don’t have a shamoji.
  • Measuring cup: Use what you have in your kitchen. In Japan, we use a rice 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) was 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.

How To Make Japanese Rice: STEP BY STEP 

Here are some quick visual instructions! For the video and all the detailed ingredients and instructions, go to the printable recipe card below.

How to make Japanese rice on the stove.

Step 1

Rinse the rice and soak it in water for 30 minutes.

How to make Japanese rice on the stove.

Step 2

Drain the rice, add fresh water, and bring it to a boil.

How to make Japanese rice on the stove.

Step 3

Simmer for 10 minutes, turn off the heat, and rest for 10 minutes.

How to make Japanese rice on the stove.

Step 4

Fluff with a rice paddle

Japanese short grain rice in a pot

Here you go! It’s tender and fluffy and goes well with any dish! Please refer to the following “How to Enjoy Japanese Rice” section.

Cooked Japanese rice in a saucepan.

You can also use a stainless saucepan to make the rice!

Recipe Tips

  • Once in the water, the rice hydrates quickly (it’s like dry food) and absorbs the water together with unnecessary elements released in the water, like dirt and bran, so rinse the rice quickly.
  • Soaking time should be at least 30 minutes (See the photo below). If you skip it, your rice will be undercooked and lacking in fluffiness.
  • Rice to water ratio should be 1.1 to 1.2 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice.
  • 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. Old rice is dehydrated and requires more water than newer rice.
  • When you finish cooking rice, moisture appears on its surface, and the rice is a little too wet. But if you let it rest with the lid on, all that extra liquid will soak into each grain while cell walls swell up, giving it its fluffy texture.
  • Fluffing the rice 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, as it will make a huge difference in taste!
Japanese short grain rice, before soaking and after soaking

How to Enjoy Japanese Rice

Japanese short grain rice, miso soup, and koyadofu katsu with veggies

Once you cook the rice, let’s enjoy it in the Japanese way!

  • Japanese Meal Style: Serve a bowl of rice with main, miso soup, and various side dishes.
  • Natto Rice: Top a bowl of rice with natto. It’s a quick breakfast staple.
  • Onigiri: Fill rice with your favorite ingredients and shape it into onigiri. Perfect for a quick and portable snack.
  • Sushi Roll: Prepare vinegared rice and roll it with fillings to make sushi rolls.
  • Chahan: Stir fry rice with ingredients like eggs. It’s a popular comfort food.

Storage

one serving cooked rice in cling wrap

If you have leftover rice, wrap individual servings in cling wrap and store them in the freezer. They will remain fresh for up to one month. The key is to wrap the rice in cling wrap immediately, even if it’s still hot. Allowing the rice to cool before wrapping will cause the moisture to evaporate, resulting in dry rice. Additionally, storing rice in the fridge is not recommended as it can lead to drying out.

Japanese Rice Brands

Japanese map with 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 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.

By the way, I buy Yumeperika almost all the time because I’m from Hokkaido and would love to support my hometown.

Mixing in Grains for More Nutrition

zakkoku rice in a rice bowle
mochimugi, quinoa, black rice, zakkoku rice

If you want more color or nutrition in your rice, you can mix these grains. Add a couple of tablespoons when soaking the rice.

  • Mochimugi is chewy barley. Its dietary fiber is 20 times more than that of white rice. It’s becoming popular as a diet food in Japan.
  • Quinoa is a superfood originally from South America. It’s famous for being rich in good-quality protein.
  • Black rice is ancient rice. As you can see from this color, it contains anthocyanins, which have benefits for antioxidants.
  • Zakkoku rice is a mixture of various grains. In addition to the grains described above, red rice, green rice, amaranth, and other barley(and so on) are included. The picture above contains 10 different grains.

Your Questions Answered

What happens if I don’t soak rice before cooking?

If you don’t soak rice before cooking, it may become hard and lose its sweetness and stickiness. Soaking rice allows the grains to absorb water, resulting in fluffier and more tender and delicious rice.

How many minutes should I soak rice before cooking?

Soak rice for 30 minutes to one hour. Consider soaking for up to an hour in colder weather, as water is absorbed more slowly in cooler temperatures.

Do I have to rinse the rice?

Yes. Like washing vegetables before cooking, you should wash away all of the dirt, rice gran, or other elements included during the rice milling process.

What is the best method for cooking Japanese rice—stovetop, rice cooker, or pressure cooker?

The best method for cooking Japanese rice depends on personal preference and convenience. Each method has its advantages:
Stovetop: No special tool is required; you can use a pot you have, but it requires attention to prevent burning.
Rice Cooker: Convenient and foolproof with consistent results.
Pressure Cooker: Quick and efficient, great for busy individuals.

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Cooked Japanese rice in a pot.

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Japanese short grain rice in a pot

How To Cook Perfect Japanese Rice on The Stove

5 from 13 votes
Print Pin Save
Prep: 35 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Author: Juri Austin
No rice cooker? No problem! Learn how to cook Japanese rice on the stove for fluffy and delicious results, and savor a wholesome Japanese meal at home – read on!

Equipment

  • Pot (I use Staub cocotte pot 18cm in this recipe)
  • Shamoji (rice paddle)
  • Rice measuring cup

Ingredients

Measuring cup: 180ml (Japanese rice cup)

  • 2 cups Japanese short-grain rice
  • cups Water, 405ml

Measuring cup: 200ml

  • 2 cups Japanese short-grain rice
  • cups Water, 450ml

Measuring cup: 240ml

  • 2 cups Japanese short-grain rice
  • cups Water, 540ml

Instructions

  • 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.

Video

Notes

  • Storage: If you have leftover rice, wrap one serving in cling wrap and keep it in the freezer. It will last up to one month.
  • Portion (for using a 180ml Japanese rice cup): This recipe will make four servings for adults and six for small children. One serving for adults is 150g, and for children, it is 100g. 
  • Rice to water ratio: 1.1 to 1.2 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice.
  • Once in the water, the rice hydrates quickly (it’s like dry food) and absorbs the water together with unnecessary elements released in the water, like dirt and bran, so rinse the rice quickly.
  • Soaking time should be at least 30 minutes.
  • If your rice is old (harvested and packaged more than a year ago), add 1.3 times the amount of water. Old rice is dehydrated and requires more water than newer rice.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 269kcal | Carbohydrates: 59.3g | Protein: 4.9g | Sodium: 1mg
Course: Rice
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: How to cook Japanese rice, Staub
Did You Make this recipe?Please Leave a star rating!
how to cook Japanese short grain rice infographic

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10 Comments

  1. I wonder if you have tried the Staub rice cooker and if it makes any difference to a normal Staub cocotte.

    1. 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!

  2. 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.

    1. 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!

  3. 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 !!!