Rice. You’re Doing it Wrong

How to Make Rice, in 7 Perfect Steps

I’ve probably made rice a thousand times, maybe more. But most were before I moved into a house with a bunch of Japanese roommates and got my ass handed to me. That’s a very humbling experience, let me tell you. Like, here’s your ass. Thanks, been looking for that.

Ah, dinnertime in the kitchen. Such a happy time. Everyone chopping vegetables, boiling noodles, and filling the room with the fragrance of burning fish. That acts as Japanese Fabreeze for your clothes and hair.

I measured out some rice and water, and put it in a pot on the stove.

“Just like a gaijin,” scoffed one of my housemates, busily stirring a non-stick pan with a metal fork.

“What?” I said. “A white man can’t make rice?”

“Apparently,” she said. “You’re doing it wrong.” Everyone else ran over and stared into the pot.

“It’s freaking rice,” I said. “There’s no right or wrong.”

“Oh, that’s not good,” said another housemate, while whittling a carrot down to a toothpick.

“Wrong,” everybody agreed, mumbling. “Just wrong.”

Now, maybe I’m the only one who didn’t know how to make proper rice, but in case there’s one other person in the whole universe who might read this and wishes to be spared the flames of Japanese Hell, here it is:

The Secret to Japanese Rice

Step 1: Select Good Rice

Picking a good rice is about as hard as picking a good wine, for the same reason. Namely, there’s a million brands and you have no clue what you’re doing. You go to a classy restaurant and the sommelier hands you an ancient leather-bound tome with the names of obscure Spanish and Chilean vineyards, then he and your date stare while you pretend like you’re not just going to pick the second to cheapest bottle.

Fortunately, there’s a shortcut when it comes to rice.

What you want to do is go to the grocery store at the busiest possible time, find the rice aisle, and select the most expensive bag of rice. Hold it gently in your hands and note every detail: where it’s from, the size of the grains, the color, all that stuff. If an old lady comes down the isle, don’t look up. Just keep staring at the rice. Guy in a suit? Same thing. Don’t take your eyes off the rice.

If you stand there long enough, and concentrate hard enough, then magically, like a genie, a hot Japanese girl will appear. I mean, it might take a few hours but eventually it’s bound to happen just by chance, right? At which point you’ll turn to her and ask casually, “Is this a good rice?” She of course will have no idea, because she’s a hot girl. If you really wanted to know, you should’ve asked the old lady. The lesson here is that there are things in life more important than rice. Anyway, if you play your cards right, maybe she’ll come over and cook it for you, in which case you don’t need the rest of these instructions. Problem solved. Otherwise, just get her number and buy whatever she recommends.

Step 2: Use a Rice Cooker

Next, you’ll need a rice cooker. Sorry, I kind of forgot to mention that earlier. You can probably find one used if you live in Japan, or get one off of Amazon if you live anywhere else in the world.Rice Cooker

A rice cooker takes all the work out of making rice. You just put in a few cups of rice, add water up to the line, press a button and grab a beer. Then in a few minutes, Rice. While you’re sitting there watching TV and eating chips, the rice cooks itself. It’s like magic. You can even set a timer and leave it overnight, then have fresh, hot rice when you wake up. There’s nothing like waking up to the smell of rice. Well, possibly the smell of burnt fish in your hair, but rice is good too.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, Hell with spending a hundred bucks on some fancy appliance. I’ll just do it in a pot on the stove. Oh sure, you could do that, but you’d probably screw up the water-to-rice ratio or forget to turn it down to simmer at the right time. Yeah, you could dispense with a toaster too, and just cook bread over a fire on a stick. Or make a smoothie in your mouth by chewing up ice and fruit, super fast. So just buy a damn rice cooker already, jeez.

Step 3: Wash the Rice

This is the step that makes the rice taste fantastic and it basically separates the Japanese people from everybody else in the house. Seriously, you can (and probably should) disregard every other piece of advice Ken Seeroi’s ever given you, but trust me on this. Unwashed rice? Das nasty.

So take whatever pot you’re using, from the rice cooker or otherwise, put in three cups of rice, and then add a bunch of cold tap water. Then holding the pot with one hand, gently caress the rice with the other hand. Think of the girl in the supermarket. Stir it around a bit with loving swirls, then pour out the water, which will be milky white, like her skin. If you’re worried about losing some sort of valuable nutrition, well, drink a V8 or something. Then rinse your rice a few more times. You don’t have to do it until the water runs clear, but it shouldn’t be the color of baby formula either.

Step 4: Add Water and Pray

Finally, add the appropriate amount of water. If you’re using a rice cooker, just fill it to the line. Otherwise, you’re in for some guesswork, especially if you live overseas. Japanese instructions assume you’re going to wash your rice like a civilized human being, but the directions for “foreigners” sometimes assume you haven’t washed your rice, so they tell you to add too much water. Try not to think of this as a racial issue. Anyway, you may need to experiment with different amounts of water if you go the stovetop route. Better keep notes.

Step 5: Cook the Rice

Finally, cook the rice. Japanese folks will tell you it tastes better if you let the rice sit for a few minutes first, but honestly I’ve waited hours and it tastes exactly the same. So now I just push the button on the rice cooker, watch Japanese TV, and wonder why Japanese people are always lying to me. If you’re using a pot on the stove, simply follow the directions on the package, bringing it to a boil and then reducing it to a simmer. That’s not quite as easy as sitting on the couch, but hey, you’re the one who wanted to use a pot.

Step 6: Eat the Rice

Once it’s done, you’re ready to enjoy the most delicious rice you’ve ever tasted. Unless of course you screwed up the water, in which case you better call Supermarket Girl and get her to hustle over and make some fried rice out of that mess. Remember, the Japanese phrase for “fried rice” is flied lice. Pronounce it right or she’ll be insulted.

Of course, you want to eat your rice from a bowl, not a plate. I don’t know why. Unless you’re eating it with curry, and then go back to the plate. And use chopsticks. Unless you’re eating curry, and then use a spoon. Boy, Japan’s sure a complicated country for tableware. Whatever. If you’re not great with chopsticks, now’s the time to practice. If you’re already an expert, then use your other hand. Now it feels like someone else is doing it. Or use two sets of chopsticks at the same time and eat twice as fast. Japanese people will give you mad respect if you do this in a restaurant, so get practicing.

Step 7: Wrap Leftovers in Plastic

Finally, take the remaining rice while it’s still warm and wrap individual portions in Saran Wrap and store them in the freezer. Then you can have microwaved rice whenever you want. Sure, you’re gonna worry about all the chemicals in the plastic leeching into your rice, but all Japanese people do this and look how long they live. So nut up and start wrapping.

The Joy of Rice

Lastly, let’s talk about why you’d want to eat rice in the first place. Guess I really should’ve put this at the top, but too late now. If only there were some technology to, like, cut and paste things the way you do with paper. Well, maybe someday, in the future. Anyway, One of the best things about rice is that it’s pretty cheap. You can eat all week for under ten bucks. If I ever become homeless, seriously the first thing I’m doing, after drinking a bottle of shochu and sleeping under a bridge, is buying a giant bag of rice. Then another bottle of shochu. Man, that actually sounds way better than teaching English.

And rice is easy; easy as pie. That is, if pie had only two ingredients and tasted like, I dunno, rice. I mean, five minutes of work and you’re set for days. Not like baking bread, with all that kneading and yeast and stuff. Yuck. Plus, rice feels more like a meal than bread. Put a slice of Wonder Bread in water and what’ve you got? Nothing. Like you wonder where all the bread went. With rice, hey, you just made soup. Who doesn’t like soup?

Finally, pretty much anything you put on rice is instantly good. Throw on some vegetables and a blast of mabo tofu sauce and Boom, Chinese food. Rice and cheese? That’s a casserole. Getting all French now. Rice and beans? Ole, amigo. Rice and fish? Hell, don’t even cook that and just call it sushi. So there you have it: Ken Seeroi’s guide to four days’ worth of international cuisine in less time than it takes to order a pizza. Or order a pizza anyway and put that on rice. Italian food, my paisano. Now get out there and get winning, you Iron Chef. A world of culinary adventure awaits.

71 Replies to “Rice. You’re Doing it Wrong”

    1. My pleasure. A smile and a bowl of rice are all you need to start the day. That’s not a Japanese saying, but it should be.

    1. It’s freaking helpful if you eat a lot of rice. Of course, that’s one of those cause-and-effect things. I don’t know if have a rice cooker because I eat a lot of rice, or if I eat a lot of rice because of the rice cooker. You know, Japan’s just full of mysteries.

  1. I’ve had a rice cooker even prior to moving to Japan.
    I kind of miss my rice cooker, because I don’t have one now.
    And the good thing is you can not only use it for rice, but for veggies and other stuff as well!

    I’m not a fan of eating rice 3 times a day, but once a day is great. And like you said it goes well with almost anything – but I love hot rice, natto and raw egg! (*____*)b

    1. Heh, unless I’m on one of my crazy diets, I probably eat five servings of rice a day. Of course, I don’t eat any bread or cakes or anything, so pretty much a hundred percent of my carbohydrates come from rice.

      And I could do without the egg, but I’m right there with you when it comes to natto and hot rice. Now that’s a breakfast.

  2. I’ve struggled with making rice as a bachelor in my mid 20s. Here’s what you do:

    For white rice, the water HEIGHT should be around 1.5 times the height of the rice. So after you fill the stove pot with rice, stick a finger in there and see what the height is. Then fill enough water into the stove until the water height is 1.5 times that of the rice height. 😀

    For brown rice, its 2 times instead of 1.5 times.

    Yes I know watching rice boil is like watching a snail cross the street, but you gotta do it. The boiling to simmering progression is what makes the rice come out nice, fluffy, and delicious.

    1. That’s a good tip. If the power ever goes out and I have to make rice using a campfire or something, I’ll try that.

  3. Nice break from the recent heavy topics Ken; a well put CM that made me completely forget about all the noisy fireworks that are going off tonight and scaring the hell outa my dogs. I haven’t heard this many fireworks on the fourth (Technically, it really is still the third here, but who cares) in many years, it must be all those recent illegals celebrating their new country.

    BTW, I have a rice cooker too, but I only use it to make homemade beenie-weenies! I know this local Chinese delivery that makes great stir fry and after you get used to it, regular rice just tastes sorta like lumpy mashed potatoes to me. I can’t even remember the last time I ate plain rice cooked. GO STIR FRY!! and Book Book!

    1. I find a lot of Chinese places don’t wash their rice, and it tastes pretty terrible. In that case, for sure, go with the fried stuff. But for my money, I’d say take the hot dogs out of your rice cooker and buy try some good Japanese rice. Better wash the weiner taste out first.

        1. I’m by no means saying “all Chinese folks.” What people do in their homes, I’ve no idea. But I worked in a Chinese kitchen in the States, and we (me and half a dozen Chinese cooks) just put rice and water into the big rice cooker and pushed the button.

          The difference in taste is pretty stark, so judging from that, I’d say a lot of Chinese places in the U.S. aren’t going to the trouble to wash it.

            1. … at least if you live in the U.S. There, the chances of getting a restaurant meal better than you could make at home aren’t great.

              Here in Japan, it’s probably the opposite. Eating out, I can have ten different dishes that would have taken me an hour to prepare, and cost more, if I’d made them myself. I don’t know why it’s so cheap, but yeah, it is. Gotta love Japan for that.

        2. It all depends on the type of rice. A lot of Japanese rice is actually coated in talk. Whereas a lot of foreign rice isn’t. Depending on what grain you use, you may or may not need to wash it.
          I showed a bag of basmati rice to a Japanese lady who had never seen it before and was amazed at the black grains. While Japanese rice is good, there is a world of other rice out there….

          1. I wish the Indian/Nepali restaurants around would use Basmati rice with their curry dishes. Japanese rice only goes well with Japanese curry. As a result, I only eat this kind of curry with nan when eating out.

            Fortunately, Tehran Shop in Yokohama sells Basmati rice at a very reasonable price. So I guess I will be preparing some homemade Indian curry soon. Wonder if Basmati plays well with the rice cooker or if it’s better to cook in a pot, though…

      1. I guess my taste is culturally influenced, since I’m Scotch-Irish and I use Potatoes as my staple carb. I also eat potatoes for their fiber content and it just seems normal for me, whereas rice just doesn’t taste right to me. My family has been in Southern Illinois for many generations as farmers and only in my father’s generation did we move South. My grandmother did all my cooking as I grew up (a lot of corn, meat and potatoes) and we JUST never ate rice. Even when I was in the military they didn’t often have rice on the menu. I must say that veggies, egg and pieces of meat stir fried in the rice just looks better (more palatable) to me because I feel an aversion to just plain rice for some reason (maybe because I can’t stand grits or oatmeal). I think that might be due to my cultural heritage maybe. I hear ya about the low cost on rice too and I might end up going there, but until the cost of freeze dried hash browns hits the ceiling, I proly will stay away from rice, except my occasional Chinese stir fry delivery, it only costs a little more than regular rice and it does taste great! I make the beenie-weenies for the relatives kids when they visit, I don’t eat that shit myself…LOL!

        1. Yeah, I’m not sure rice is gonna necessarily win a taste contest with freeze-dried hash browns. But I do believe one can acquire a taste for different cuisines over time.

          Good rice, even plain with nothing on it, often ranks at the top of Japanese people’s favorite foods, and I concur. But it really has to be good rice. That stuff that comes in Chinese food containers isn’t even the same food.

          1. Oh CRAP Ken.

            I left my PC tablet out on the table after I had just visited your site and was reading the latest entries when my sister visited with her grand daughter. The kid grabbed the tablet and my sister grabbed it from her (but must have seen my name listed on the page and read it). I thought nothing of it till today when she showed up at the door with a 20 lb. bag of Augusta White Rice (9.06 KG.) and told me to NEVER fix her grand daughter beenie-weenies again. Daaaaaamn, I musta looked real guilty cause she told me my face turned several shades of RED and now she expects me to eat this stuff in place of the spaghetti she sometimes brings over. I need better security mang, I hate getting busted like that….WAHHHHH! Oh well, the up side is that NOW I know the price of rice in the US now, it was $6.99 for that 20 lb. bag of white water polished, color sorted long grain Augusta White Rice, FYI!! Hmmmm, does water polished mean it’s already washed, I wonder. Will the rice mysteries never cease, ahhhhhhhhh!!

            1. Yeah, you gotta use Private Browsing mode and erase all of your history. Don’t want anybody finding out you’re into, you know, rice.

              But maybe it’ll be good for you, getting some nutrition and all. And to answer your question, in my book there’s no such thing “pre-washed” rice. What’s with trying to find some loophole to washing it anyway? It’s not like you gotta stuff it in a machine with your socks and boxers and half a box of Cheer. Just rinse them grains off a few times.

              I think even rice that’s clean, just by being shipped and rustling around with its ricely buddies, ends up getting chalky and dusty. That’s what you’re rinsing off, along with any stray dirt or insects, so your rice is less gummy and tastes better.

              By the way, 20 pounds of rice for 7 bucks? Jeez, that’s good. You’re gonna get a lot of meals for your money, and probably eventually get the wiener taste out of your rice cooker.

    1. Yeah, it’s always a good time for rice. And if you’re going to make soup, check out what’s known as ochazuke. It’s easy and works well with leftover rice plus anything else in the fridge.

  4. Excellent advice Ken!

    I especially like the advice for selecting rice. How do I know what’s good? “If you really wanted to know, you should’ve asked the old lady. The lesson here is that there are things in life more important than rice […]” Truer words may never have been spoken.

    1. Yeah, you gotta keep stuff in perspective. I mean, it’s rice, for God’s sake. Who writes a whole article about rice? That’d be nuts.

  5. This not only made me laugh, I expect that the idea of wrapping the leftover rice and freezing it is going to change my life.

    So you don’t also soak it after washing it? That is what my Japanese friends told me to do but if you’ve actually done the experiments, I’m willing to believe it’s an old Japanese-wives’ tale.

    1. Yeah, the people I lived with used to wrap and freeze massive amounts of rice. I’ll usually put one or two servings into bowls and put those in the fridge for the next day, and then freeze the rest. You’re pretty much set for food at that point.

      As for soaking the rice, if I’m not in a hurry, I’ll let it sit for 30 minutes or an hour just on principle, but honestly, is there a difference? Like I guess I’m 30-minutes hungrier, so now it tastes better. But that’s about it.

      Try making a couple of batches, one where you wait an hour, and one where you don’t. Let me know what you think. Maybe my taste buds are just dense.

  6. But it says 無洗米 on my rice bag. I take their word for it 😉

    My rice cooker has two water lines in any case and the pre-washed rice line is only slightly higher than the white rice one. I like my rice cooker. It makes me feel like a world-class cook. I would never torture it like this:

    http://youtu.be/Dx7iZpWCbPw

    1. Well, people told me “I can’t believe it’s not butter,” and I took their word for it, but then it still tasted like margarine. Ah, Marketing, you’re so enticing.

      So when I see rice that says “Pre-washed,” I have an image of people in white coats and masks in some lab preparing carefully washed bags of rice, and not

      this guy.

      This is from a rice processing plant I helped out at. A bunch of sweaty guys in a big dusty warehouse pouring giant sacks of rice into a hopper, and out comes your brown or white rice. And that’s it.

      I mean, you’re still going to boil it, so it’s safe, but rice is no cleaner than a carrot.

  7. I wish it were so easy. Just fill to the line, would be ok, but my (Japanese) rice cooker has multiple lines some of which are mere millimetres away from each other.
    I’ve tried several of these and all leave the white rice looking and feeling like soggy porridge. And that was after I stopped using the Congee button (thanks google translate).
    I find much better results with brown rice, you don’t have to wash it, the measurements are much more accurate and best of all it tastes of something! If only I didn’t have to search high and low to find the stuff. And I don’t get scurvy from it, like I do with white rice (see Wikipedia) 🙂

    1. If you’re cooking white rice in your rice cooker, all you need is a measuring cup. Measure the rice, wash the rice, then put the rice in the cooker with the same volume of water. Because it’s steamed you only need a one to one ratio. It comes out great. 🙂

  8. I’m sorry, but you have it all wrong. Everyone know that rice from Ishikawa-ken is the tastiest. Also, never buy foreign rice. Because, you know, the fact that noone outside Japan is planting koshi-hikari has nothing to do with the fact that Japan has gigantic import taxes and trade barriers, and all to do with the fact that foreigners can’t plant rice properly.

    Lastly, only amateurs use expensive rice cookers. The real pro’s (obaa-chans) use simply a pot, likely with an anti-sticky coating. Rice will come out much tastier than with a rice-cooker.

    So, some counter-arguments that make you sound like you know what you’re talking about next time in the kitchen.

    1. Yeah, and the way the rice is stored would also affect its taste. That said, I choose convenience with a dash of the Japanese saying 空腹は最善のソースである (Hunger is the best sauce) 😉

    2. Wait, are you implying that there’s more than one way to do things? Because that thought can’t even be expressed in the Japanese language. That’s like saying that there’s more than one kind of “Japanese” person, which we all know is crazy. Blasphemy.

  9. Man, I do wish I had read this in college and invested in the rice cooker then. Sure makes life easier even if I don’t know what all the buttons mean. Spot on regarding the wrap and freeze method.

    I have no idea how to pick a bag. Mother-in-law insists on shipping us “fresh” rice. No complaints from me but is this really different from what I could get in the bag at the grocery?

    I did discover the brown rice in Japan seems completely different from brown rice in the US. It’s fabulous. The stuff in the US was pretty heavy and dense. Eat a spoonful and your done. The brown rice from Japan is much more subtle and I highly recommend it.

    I recently tried using the water from some shitake that I was hydrating. Usually this stuff goes into miso soup but it was fabulous for the rice.

    1. Fresh rice is something of a delicacy in Japan. I think I can taste the difference, much in the same way that I think I’m more charming and better looking after a couple of beers.

      Generally speaking, you’ll want to wash fresh rice more thoroughly, especially if it’s coming from a relative, as it’s often less processed. It’s kind of “straight from the farm to you.”

      Good call on adding the liquid from shitake to the rice. For people who want a break from white rice, there are actually a number of recipes that add extra things. Matsutake gohan is similar—basically mushrooms and rice. Kuri gohan is chestnuts and rice, and zakkokumai is mixed grains with rice. All this stuff is butt easy to make in a rice cooker. Just wash the rice and add water as usual, then dump in whatever you want. I guess you could use a recipe too, if you don’t like surprises. Me, I live for adventure, so I just put in a bunch of stuff, wait an hour, and when I open the lid it’s like Christmas.

  10. your paisano has a tip:
    on white rice, add olive oil and parmiggiano cheese.NO Cook. Just adding and mixing all.
    that’s all.

    mixing pizza and rice is just calling out Mafia family!
    take care, man!

    1. …and probably incur the wrath of the yakuza as well. Just kidding, really.

      But good idea on the olive oil and parmiggiano. Kind of like an instant risotto. And certainly people looking to pack on pounds need all the labor savings they can get.

  11. Dearest Ken,
    Would you consider a regular home-making column? I would love your advice not only on cooking but also home decorating, pickling and how to get Sadako out of my bathroom drain.
    Sincerely,
    A Housewife With A Lot To Learn.

    1. You mean like where to stash beer cans once your balcony is full because you missed trash day for a couple of months? Or how to dry your futon after you left it out in the rain all weekend? That kind of stuff? Because I could write that, sure. I’m a real whiz in the homemaking department.

  12. Quit giving away Asian cooking trade secrets. I went to culinary school, slaved away in kitchens for years and busted my butt to learn recipes like this and you’re just giving it away for free. Oh, you’re missing something in steps 4-7. Open beer and drink, repeat as needed. The best cooks multitask.

    1. Yeah, that’s pretty much assumed at every step. And sorry to disclose all of the inside information. You’re probably not gonna be pleased when I reveal how to make miso soup, including the secret Asian method for cutting tofu.

  13. I really liked the tone of this one! It was very upbeat and cheeky…..kinda makes me wonder if you were partaking in a malt beverage while typing it out.

    Love your stuff. Keep it up.

    1. Thanks much.

      All of my pieces involve a malt beverage at some point. First I type them up in one of the two possible binary states, sober or not, then later edit them in the other state to either be funnier or coherent, as necessary. Usually, several rounds of editing are required, which is fortunate.

  14. Huh, it’s funny how I found this website by typing “international business” on Google search bar turn out you make pretty good damn stories .. just got a new follower, I look forward with more stories to read!.

    1. Yeah, apparently I’ve got that search criteria pretty well dialed in. Anyway, I’m glad you got here somehow. Guess I really should start some international business, like selling off my Hello Kitty collection on eBay. It’s been fun, Kitty-chan, but into the box you go.

  15. I forgot about you for awhile, but I met someone today who reminded me to think of you. Just like I remembered; you never disappointment me, Ken. Save for that one story about the guy getting beaten in the subway, I never fail to laugh out loud while reading what you write.

    1. Thanks for remembering me, Michelle. Yes, please drop by periodically. I write stuff once in a while, whenever the moon and stars align just right.

  16. Wow the Tottori San Dunes are packed in that photo!! We were lucky to visit in the off season. Did you take the lift up to the restaurant at the top and try out some of the Tottori G Beeru? Pretty good stuff and has some interesting looking characters on the label. I’m sure I’d recognize them if I lived there. The sand museum was phenomenal. For a Russian exhibit it was missing a reference to vodka though. I mean that is the life blood of Russia after all. Otosan kept saying the area looks like San Diego because it’s their desert. Funny guy. Somehow I always end up the punch line of his jokes.

    1. I wanted to take that ski lift. It looked like fun. But there were so many people, we really just hung out on the beach, and the next day went hiking up Mount Daisen. There was some sake involved at some point too, as I recall. Anyway, you’ll be able to read about that soon.

  17. Yet another well-written article. This stuff is gold. Never fails to bring a smile to my face. Just like OwnagePranks in fact.

  18. I lived in THE rice capital, Niigata. I thought rice was rice until I lived there…and then I became a changed woman. After eating Niigata rice everyday for a year, I went to Tokyo and had a bowl of rice from some random restaurant. I almost spit it out. I had become such a rice snob and my standards were ridiculously high. In that moment I knew that not all rice was the same.

    A lot of Japanese people got busted at China customs when they tried to sneak rice into China back from home. It’s a no-no. Good rice stays in Japan.

    My Japanese “mom” also told me that all rice needs to be washed–except for Koshi Hikari. Don’t know if that is true or not.

    I bet Japanese people were so shocked to see you cooking rice on a stove! Japanese people probably haven’t done that since the Heian area or something

    1. ” I had become such a rice snob and my standards were ridiculously high. In that moment I knew that not all rice was the same.”

      Heh, try going back to the U.S. I’m also one of these people who travels with a suitcase full of rice, for that reason. No clothes, just rice. Gotta have the essentials.

  19. Okay, I can’t hold back any longer. It’s time for one of those embarrassing confessions:
    Ken, I’m madly in love with you…In a bromance-kind way.. No homo.. Not there’d be anything wrong with that, anyways. What I was trying to say:
    Thank you for making me laugh! You’re awesome.
    Certainly gonna make good use of all your info, when I make it over to Japan in October.

    1. Wow, I was really glad to read your comment. I was like, All right, this blog’s finally paying off and now hot chicks are writing to me. Excellent. Oh wait, you’re a dude…well, hmm, guess that’s okay too. Japan’s not exactly the most macho place, and half the time I can’t tell the men from the women, so it’s all good.

      October’s just around the corner, and maybe you can catch the tail end of the fall leaves. Don’t forget to pack your winter slippers and furry chopsticks.

  20. I bought a zojirushi years ago at a vietnamese market in LA, but never know about the plastic bag in freezer – thanks for the tip! What is the recommended process (a 手順?) of thawing?
    I moved to Japan a year after Fukushima and despite the cautions of my moving company decided to bring my own rice. Although the Japanese customs agent dryly reminded me that ‘it is possible to buy rice in Japan’, the quarantine counter at airport turned out to be no hassle, maybe just 10 minutes to stamp the form I had filled out. Later it turned out the rice had tiny bugs in it, so it was a waste anyways – I guess I shouldn’t have left it in my garage for a month before leaving. I never noticed before that the unopened rice bag has tiny holes in it.

    Enjoy 忘年会 season! Cheers

    1. Yeah, you probably don’t need to take sand to the beach.

      I’ve also found bugs in rice, when I lived in the U.S. Not that it couldn’t happen in Japan too. All the more reason to wash that stuff.

      As for the defrosting process, I usually just pop the ricicle in the microwave. I really don’t like nuking plastic, so I usually try to take it out after about a minute, at which point it’s warm enough to unwrap. Then I put it in a ceramic bowl and put it back in the microwave. But all the Japanese folks I know just nuke from frozen to hot. They tell me that the plastic is microwave safe, and since they’re Japanese, I guess I believe them.

  21. Hi Ken, as someone who lives in a country where rice is a staple in every meal (Philippines), I found this to be a very refreshing read. It was fun reading an amusing step-by-step instructions on how to cook rice. I don’t know about the statistics but I’ll wager that most people here still cook rice using a regular pot (gotta save on electricity, you know). We wash the rice always. Pre-washed rice is not very common, or I should probably say, popular. Rice is food so you need to clean it first before cooking it. Or something like that. Like you said, insects, dust, and other impurities are not remote possibilities. As for how much water to add, like Ricky said in his comment above, you just measure using your fingers. Usually, the ratio is 1:1 but it depends on the type of rice. I find that Japanese rice is stickier than the varieties readily available in the Philippines. It takes a few practice to get it right but it’s also very easy to get down.

    Freezing and microwaving leftover rice are also not commonly done here. We normally just store the leftovers in the fridge then make fried rice out of it the next morning. It makes for a delicious breakfast. 😉

    Good job Chef Seeroi! Stay healthy and happy. 🙂

    Mary

  22. Even the way people, at least in the United States, prepare ‘normal’ (long grain?) rice is weird in my eyes. There’s no taste as a result and that explains why rice isn’t so popular like it is in where I live, in Brazil. You guys just throw water and rice with salt into a pan to cook… we, at a bare minimum, usually wash the rice, fry garlic in oil inside the pan, throw the rice in it and mix it until it dries, THEN we pour water and cook.

    ‘Asian’ rice is easier but still requires at least washing away the starch from the rice… no wonder your roomates did not approve your cooking technique, hahaha.

    Very funny article, loved it.

  23. So I tried your rinse the rice first technique and lets just say that it is night and day different. Seems like common sense but i guess not. Thanks for tip.

    On another note, I was curious as to how common, or uncommon it is to find ingredients to cook “traditional American food”, if you want to call it that, in Japan.

    I was just at the supermarket and I the “Asian” aisle, well it was more like 4 panels of noodles and brightly colored snacks that were probably made in Mexico. I didnt see anything that resembled Japanese food other than rice that was from Thailand, and even that I question.

    1. Short answer is, there’s a bit of American food here, depending on where you shop. Probably on par with the amount of Japanese food in the States. But more to the point: Why would anyone want to eat American food? It’s time to move beyond ketchup.

      1. Honestly its the only thing I know how to cook. And well you could say I’m a picky eater and that would be understatement. I could count the number of Japanese foods I have eaten on one hand and barely lift a finger. Sound like too much work anyways….lifting fingers.

  24. not really of a commenting sort of person, but you did mail me your anki deck and said if i could drop a few lines now and then..so here goes…

    Rice? love it. 5 times a day? bring it on every meal for the rest of my life.
    Back home, I used to wash/rinse the rice before putting it on the cooker
    But here in japan, I thought they would have done some sort of high velocity unicorn blood spraying to each grain before packaging, like how meticulous they are with their other shits [100yen onigiri packs have hassle free packaging, go figure!!]…
    Who knew when it came to rice, they would want me to do all the washing..anyways, will wake up a minute earlier from tomorrow to try rice rinsing here as well.

    good article, nicely written and all that…

    1. Hey Gaurab,

      My guess is there’s a reason rice isn’t washed too well. Maybe it’d be more likely to mold? I don’t know. I am sure, however, that as big bags of rice get shipped around the nation, all those tiny rice grains rub against one another, creating a fine dust. When you rinse the rice, you’re cleaning some of that off. It tastes a lot better, and takes only a minute, so I figure it’s well worth it.

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