The Japanese way of cooking rice takes time, but the cooked rice is fluffier than it would be if you used the boiling method (it will not be soggy). Once you master it, you will not want to cook rice any other way!
The prep time does not include soaking time which varies depending on the season.
Leave the rinsed rice in the bowl and add enough water (not in the ingredients) to cover the rice. Leave the rice to soak for 30 minutes (summertime) to 1 hour (wintertime). (Note 3)
When the water starts boiling and bubbles come out of the pot, reduce the heat to low. Cook for 12-15 minutes until there is no water at the bottom of the pot or you don’t hear a bubbling sound from inside the pot. Do not open the lid while cooking.
Turn the heat off and leave for at least 10 minutes with the lid on. Then mix the rice using a rice spatula (if you have one). This is to remove excess moisture within the cooked rice grains. Also the rice does not to mould into the shape of the pot at the bottom.
Furikake (ふりかけ) is a dried Japanese seasoning that is sprinkled on top of cooked rice. Ingredients include a combination of dried fish flakes, dried egg, dried cod eggs, bonito flakes, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed and other flavourings.
Umeboshi (梅干し) is a salty and sour pickled plum. There are brown umeboshi (natural colour) and red umeboshi (dyed using purple perilla). Large umeboshi are about 2-3 cm (¾-1¼") diameter and have a very soft texture, while tiny umeboshi are normally crunchy. The seed inside an umeboshi is very hard and you should not eat it as you might break your teeth.
Takuan (沢庵) is one of the many pickled vegetables that Japanese people love. Unlike western-style pickling, Japanese people do not use oil to pickle vegetables. They typically use any combination of salt, soy sauce and vinegar.
1. Short grain or sushi rice are the closest types of rice to Japanese rice. You could use medium grain, but long grain or any other rice grains are not suitable. I buy Japanese short grain rice called ‘Koshihikari’ (こしひかりorコシヒカリ). I like it because the cooked rice is fluffier and shinier than other types. In Australia, you can buy Koshihikari at most Asian grocery shops and definitely at Japanese grocery shops.
2. The amount of water required depends on your preference for the cooked rice (al dente vs soft), age of the rice grain (new rice needs less water), and the pot you use (more steam evaporates with a wider pot). You will need to experiment and work out the exact amount that suits you.
3. This is a traditional way of cooking fluffy rice. You will see that each grain becomes white after absorbing the water. If you don’t have time to soak the rice in the water, you can cook it straight away. In this case you might need to increase the amount of water slightly when cooking the rice.
4. If you are using the rice for sushi, placer a pice of konbu on top of the water, then cook rice. The rice will absorb umami from the konbu.
5. Leftover rice can be kept in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer. Use the microwave to thaw and re-heat.
6. Because of the strong flavour of these condiments, Japanese people sometimes eat rice with just these when they are in a hurry or just to fill themselves up without going through the hassle of cooking a meal.