Video: Atsushi's Way to Wash Rice Perfectly

Video: Atsushi's Way to Wash Rice Perfectly


Last night I helped my buddy Atsushi Nakahigashi, a chef at the award-winning Kajitsu, teach a packed class at the Brooklyn Kitchen about traditional Japanese breakfast. (A truly fantastic, fascinating, informative class -- great job, Atsushi!!) Of course, no Japanese breakfast is complete without a bowl of beautiful, steaming white rice, so one of the first things Atsushi did was demonstrate his way of washing, rehydrating, and resting rice for cooking. Grains of rice need to absorb just the right amount of moisture before cooking so they can steam properly (humidity is how heat travels in foods) -- so washing the rice is key. Back in January, I posted a video of Nobuko expertly washing rice. What was interesting to me last night was that Atsushi had a slightly different approach to achieving the same goal. So I wanted to post a video of his method, too, so you can check it out. Which way to wash rice? Up to you, both methods are terrific; in Japanese cooking (as in life), lots of ways to do something. Video follows below. Also, in the next few days I'll be posting all the recipes from the class!

Posted by Harris Salat in Rice | Permalink | Comments (3) | Email | Print

Comments (3)

This post caught my eye because rice washing is something I too wrote about because it is an essential component in making an arresting bowl of rice. I arrived in Japan in 1988 and my first Japanese cookbook, The Heart of Zen Cuisine, gave a lyrical explanation of the rice washing process. Try as I might, I really did not get it, fresh off the boat, with no understanding of the growing of (and culture of) rice. Zoom up 23 years, living on an organic farm here, I've helped periodically with the rice planting and harvesting. And now I get why each little grain is like a god, to be lovingly scrubbed and gently washed. And interestingly enough my husband's method of rice washing (passed onto me) is exactly the same as the one in the Heart of Zen Cuisine. One more piece in the puzzle is that the ghost writer of that book, Kim Schuefftan, is now one of my dearest friends and lives in a mountain town near us. I've watched both Atsushi-san's and Nobuko-san's rice washing and find the cultural differences interesting. Atsushi-san is a young chef in the City living in the U.S., so goes for a more streamlined method; while Nobuko-san seems to live in a urban Japanese area, so works with smaller portions with economical restraint. On the farm, we rinse off bugs & debris with one huge water fill; then scrub mindfully. After that, we repeatedly flood the rice with water, filling the rice cooker receptacle to the very top, and pour off the water (without fussing with strainers). This fill and dump process can go as many as 10 times for farm rice...something I find more comforting than "clean" rice that can run clear after 4 rinces. But I'm old fashioned like that. Thanks for this post, I was just thinking about rice this very day.
This is definitely an easier method as one is not losing any of the rice when rinsing. However, the first method I noticed that the 'momma' used her fist to swirl the rice where as here he does not put any effort into that. However, I see that the water left in the rice can easily come out with the strainer whereas I have found that my rice is sometimes mushy with the other method. I do want to say; until this blog I have never washed my rice. Now I wouldn't make rice without washing it first. Letting it sit for a half hour is also a necessity to rid the rice of even the tiniest excess water
Thanks, Harris, for providing this video. I'm always interested to see how others wash their rice. Over the years I've read and viewed countless methods (Japanese, Korean, Chinese) of washing rice. While there are slight differences and nuances in the methods, ultimately they all arrive at the same spot: clean rice. What has enthralled me more than anything are the personal stories behind the methods, which more often than not incorporate family history and loving memories. The washing process is a way to focus my efforts in preparing the meal; the more love and attention I give the rice, the better I think it tastes.

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