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How to Wash Rice

Since coming to Japan, I’ve learned about the need to wash rice before cooking. This may not apply to all kinds of rice, however, if you’re cooking Japanese short grain white rice (Japonica), it’s certainly true. The way I was taught to do it involves washing and rinsing the rice three times. The videos on this page introduce my two favourite ways to clean rice before cooking.

Washing Rice in a Rice Cooker

For those of you who own a rice cooker, you are probably well aware of this first method. It create any dirty dishes since you wash the rice in the rice cooker bowl itself. This is the way I was first taught to wash rice when I came to Japan. It’s just a case of adding a bit of water and mixing the rice round with the tips of my fingers. Rinse the rice a few times and that’s it.

Washing Rice in a Sieve and Bowl

These days, I often wash my rice in a sieve and bowl instead of in my rice cooker cooking bowl. The main reason is I don’t always cook rice in my rice cooker, sometimes I use a donabe instead. Another issue is that I’ve started to notice some marks on my rice cooker non-stick coating at the bottom of the pan. I’m thinking maybe my nails or the grains of rice are marking the cooking bowl as I’m washing the rice.

Some Japanese people use the finger mixing method, similar to what I show in the video. Others perform more of a rubbing action with the rice in the palm of their hands. I’m not too sure of the ‘proper way’ to do it, I just know what works for me. Using a seive and bowl, seems to be a bit faster for me than washing the rice in my rice cooker bowl.

And for anyone (like my mother) who’s concerned about the amount of water I’m wasting, rice water is an excellent natural fertilizer for plants.

If you’ve got a different rice washing technique, please let us know how you do it!

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