How to Cook Japanese Rice


Steamed rice is a staple food for many around the world, with it being eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner nearly every day of the week in many cultures. In Japanese food, you’ll find that the ability to cook short-grain rice is essential and is used for a variety of delicious rice recipes and meals. And when it comes to rice, Japanese cuisine really knows how to make it delicious and versatile.

If you love to eat rice, then learning how to make a batch of perfectly cooked rice is a must. And when it comes to authentic Japanese cooking, nothing could make or break your recipe more than undercooked or mushy rice. 

Love Japanese food and want to know how to cook perfect rice for almost any Japanese meal? Here’s how to cook Japanese rice over the stove or in your Japanese rice cooker.

What is Japanese Style Rice?

Japanese short grain rice is the perfect balance between separated and sticky rice, making it the perfect consistency to pair with almost any meal and being easy to collect with chopsticks.

Japanese cooked rice is incredibly versatile, being used for everything. From plain white rice to pair with everyday meals to sushi rice, rice balls, and even desserts, Japan rice cuisine has a lot of variety.

What is the Most Popular Japanese Rice?

The most commonly eaten rice in Japan is locally called Uruchimai, which simply refers to Japonica short grain white rice.

While many people refer to Japanese rice generally as “sticky rice” due to its unique texture, actual glutinous rice, also known as Japanese sweet rice, is much stickier and is best known for its use in mochi.

What Makes Japanese Rice Taste So Good?

Japanese short-grain rice is so delicious because it has the highest starch and moisture content compared to long-grain rice and medium-grain rice. Letting the rice soak and the heat and liquid penetrate the grain breaks down the starches, making the rice stick together and giving it that sweet taste and plumpness.

What Do Japanese People Put on White Rice?

Furikake is a dried Japanese seasoning that is sprinkled over cooked rice. The ingredients for this include a combination of dried fish flakes, dried eggs, dried cod eggs, bonito flakes, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, and other flavors. 

For sushi rice, rice vinegar is used to give it further flavor and make it more malleable to turn into a rice ball.

What Makes Japanese Rice Different?

What is So Special About Japanese Rice?

While Japanese short-grain rice shares a lot of similarities with other types of white rice, its stickier consistency and sweeter taste give it a slightly more pleasant texture and taste. The Japanese short-grain rice is also often prepared with other add-ons for sushi rice and meals to give it even more flavor.

Is Basmati Rice the Same As Short Grain Rice?

Long-grain rice grains like basmati and jasmine rice are fluffy but do not clump together the same way that short-grain rice does. These types of rice soak up and retain less water and are much less suitable for most traditional Japanese cooking.

How is Rice Traditionally Cooked in Japan?

How to Cook Rice in a Pot Over the Stove

  1. Place the rice in a large bowl and rinse the rice with cold water. Repeat washing until the water becomes almost clear. Drain.
  2. Soak the rice for 15-30 minutes. Drain.
  3. In a medium saucepan or cast iron pot, add about 1 ¼ measuring cup of water to the rinsed rice. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil with the lid off.
  4. Next, cover and reduce to the lowest setting for 15 minutes. Take off heat and steam for further 10 minutes with the lid still on. Do not open the lid until the rice is cooked as the steam is crucial to perfect fresh rice.
  5. Open the lid and fluff with steamed rice with a rice paddle.

Cooking Rice in an Electric Rice Cooker

  1. Place the rice into the rice cooker bowl or rice washer and rinse the rice with cold water. Repeat washing until the water becomes almost clear. Drain.
  2. Soak the rice for 15-30 minutes. Drain.
  3. Fill water to the 2-rice cooker cup fill line in your rice cooker.
  4. Select the Rice option, or the applicable buttons for your rice cooker model, and press Start. Option and cooking time for short-grain brown rice will be different.
  5. Once the rice is cooked and the rice cooker is on Warm, let the cooked rice rest and steam for 10 minutes.
  6. Open the lid and fluff steamed rice with a rice spatula.

What is the ratio for Japanese rice?

The golden rule for Japanese cooking rice and measuring rice is for the rice to water ratio to be 1:1.1 or 1.2, which is 10-20% more water than when we usually cook rice.

Additionally, the measuring cup for cooking rice and the modern rice cooker is 180ml, which comes from the traditional way the Japanese used to cook rice. Instead of the plastic cup we used today, people used a square wooden cup or rice paddle which was almost equivalent to 180ml.

Final Note

Finding short-grain rice should be no problem at your local Asian market or Japanese grocery stores, so being able to cook rice that’s perfectly sticky and sweet in your rice cooker or stove should be no problem. By learning how to make a perfect batch of fluffy rice, learning how to make other Japanese rice recipes should be an absolute breeze.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best way to reheat rice?

Leftover rice or frozen rice can be used for different recipes, so don’t throw them out right away. You can easily reheat your leftover rice by putting it into the microwave on medium-high for 3-4 minutes, or on the stove over low heat for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle some water over it so you can add more moisture back into your rice.

Is rice Gohan or Kome?

In Japanese, Gohan and Kome are the two words used to refer to rice. While the latter is strictly used for actual and often uncooked rice, the word Gohan means cooked steamed rice but is also the general word for a meal.

What does Musenmai mean?

Before you cook rice, you usually need to rinse it beforehand to remove excess starch. Musenmai, which translates to “no-wash,” is rice processed in such a way that it no longer needs to be rinsed before cooking.

What is a popular Japanese rice dish?

There are many popular Japanese rice dishes to eat and learn how to make. Check out some of our rice recipes on our site.

How do you make Koshihikari rice?

Koshihikari rice is one of the most popular types of rice in Japan. You can easily cook this short-grain white rice in your rice cooker or over the stovetop as you would most other Japanese rice.