Cooking Rice


On my third day, I started doing sushi rice, at least, washing rice and cooking part of it. Jun told me so.

The rice cooker at Rock’n Hollywood Sushi was a 55-cup gas rice cooker, and it was the biggest rice cooker I’ve ever used. Though it was the largest rice cooker, at least washing and rinsing rice were the same processes that I’ve been used to, so it was not such a big problem.

There were few things I need to be careful of, like rinsing it thoroughly, using plenty of water, paying more attention measuring the rice and water.

In olden days, Japanese had to rinse and wash rice more vigorously to remove the polished starch and debris like sand from the rice. Thanks to the advanced machine polishing technology, these days, all you need to do is to run water through rice, a couple of times, as you rub rice gently with your hands in strainer.

“Once washed, soak the rice, add water and let it sit for fifteen to thirty minutes before you hit cook button on a rice cooker,” Jun said.

Soaking rice in water before cooking helps to bring our more flavors out of rice. It also reduces the cooking time of the rice. According to Sage, “It takes about 15 minutes in boiling water to get water and heat to the center of the kernel. So the outside of the kernel has been cooked for 15 minutes while the center has been cooked only a minute or so. The more the outside of the kernel cooks, the most starch leaches out and the mushier it gets. Soaking white rice for about an hour before cooking allows moisture to get to the center of the kernel. During cooking, the heat will transfer quicker to the center, and the rice will be done in six to eight minutes causing less damage to the outside of the kernel.”*

After soaking rice in water, you can hit “cook” on the rice cooker. Rice cooker is the easiest way to cook rice because cooking rice is a science and cooking it in a pot, requires a lot of guesswork and experience. The most difficult part of cooking rice is how much water to use and how long to cook. A perfectly cooked rice contains moisture between 58%~64% and that is what you are aiming for.

In the end, what matters the most is how much water you lose during cooking, rather than how much water you need to cook. The amount of water you will lose will depend on the container you use (i.e. pot with a lid, without a lid, rice cooker, etc.). It is impossible for the person who is writing a recipe to predict how much water you will. This is why the online recipes will never work.

Also, how much you water to start at the beginning does affect the final result. Soaking rice in water before cooking changes the moisture percentage in rice as well. This is why cooking rice is science, and most of the inexperienced cooks having difficulty cooking “perfect rice” with perfect moisture content.

I’ve been eating rice and cooking rice using pot all my life, so I am used to guessing how much water to use for a particular cooking container. Even then, I need some adjustment based on the type of rice, when and where the rice was harvested.

This is why they say in Japan: “Rice making three years for sushi apprentice.”


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