Video: Washing Rice Perfectly

Video: Washing Rice Perfectly


Look out that beautiful rice in the photo above. Every grain is glistening, polished, plump perfection. Nobuko-san cooked it in a regular rice cooker -- my rice cooker. But my rice never comes out this amazing. So what's Nobuko's secret? It's how you ready the rice, she told me. We say "washing rice" but what you're doing is (a) rinsing off surface starch, (b) polishing the grains by rubbing against each other, and (c) hydrating the grains. In Japanese there are two words for rice, kome, for the grain, and gohan, for the food. When you cook rice, you're transforming it from kome to gohan. (There's also a word for the instant this metamorphosis occurs, but I can't remember it!) But how? When washing rice, you're in a sense germinating the dormant seed: Moisture is what brings it back to life. And moisture is the medium through which heat travels; each grain has to be perfectly hydrated to cook perfectly. So how do you do that?

Check out the video below. First Nobuko quickly rinses the rise, sloshing the liquid around and pouring off the milky water quickly -- you don't want rice to sit in that water too long or it will cloud flavor. Second, she polishes the rice by a hand movement we'll call "punch, punch, turn, turn." Notice she does this quickly and GENTLY; you don't want to break the grains. Third, she rinses off milky liquid again, two times. Fourth, she repeats the punch-turn routine again. Notice when she turns, she's moving the grains to the center of the mixing bowl. Notice, too, she doesn't waste nary a grain. Fifth, she rinses the rice three or four times until the water runs clear. Three minutes and she's done with the whole process. Finally, Nobuko transfers the rice to a colander, covers it, and lets it rest for 30 minutes before cooking, so the grains have enough time to miraculously absorb just as much moisture as they need to steam perfectly. Nobuko's been cooking rice for, oh, sixty years or so. But with a little practice, you (and I) can improve our rice-washing skills! Here's the video:

Posted by Harris Salat in Rice | Permalink | Comments (10) | Email | Print

Comments (10)

Do you know other secret of tasty rice? If someone else makes rice for you, it always taste better. It's true!
I used your technique last night and was amazed at the difference. A little elbow grease goes a long way. Thanks Dad!
Thanks for this Harris. I've been looking for a primer on the Japanese way to properly wash rice for ever! As far as cooking the rice: did you use an old school rice cooker or one with fuzzy logic? And how much water? (I'm wondering whether the soaking affects the amount of water one should use.)
Have you tried making rice using the Kamado-san Donabe, which I saw on Korin’s website? I’m wondering how tasty the rice would be versus the electric rice cooker.
Wow, thank you Harris for posting this, I was looking after a method for washing rice since longer. What I really like about this method, she doesn't waste any water at all! (if you would see me washing rice...) Need to try this method as soon as possible. I also have read some Japanese cooks let the rice sit in the water for 30 minutes, but more for sushi rice. I like to mix my rice with few additional grains(like wheat or kibi or black/red rice or whatever). I like the taste, its earthy and also healthy. I take 1 cup white rice + 0,5 cup brown rice + 0,5 cup mixed grains.Tasty!
Here's one great reason I love Japanese culinary practises: it's in the details, the perfection. You leave nothing aside: everything i sthought, well thought! Even washing rice is taken seriously and that's amazing
While Japan is a country famed for its uniformity, I love how no two housewife seems to wash rice in exactly the same way. Everytime I watch someone doing it, I feel that I'm learning something as well as getting a bit more confused as to the "right" way to do it. The more I learn about rice, the more I am beginning to realize that there are numerous "right" ways to do it.
Thanks for posting this. I used the methods shown by Nobuko-san in the video to make rice last night and it was perhaps the best batch of short grain white rice I've ever made. I saved the liquid from the first rinse to use for simmering daikon tonight, as recommended by a recipe in Andoh's "Washoku."
Dylan: the kamadosan donabe rice is perfect. =) actually I've found different brands of rice need slightly different water volume/heating time but once you get it right, there is nothing better.
Masterful!! Thank you for posting this, so I finally know how to wash rice properly. I look forward to trying this. :-)

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