How to use a rice cooker in Japan

Rice is the staple of the Japanese diet like bread and potatoes in the UK. I noticed when I first came here that I gained weight, quickly. I couldn’t really understand why at first because I wasn’t eating anywhere near the amount of potatoes or bread I usually did back in the UK. Then of course I realized how much rice I was eating daily. A big problem is that Japanese rice is so delicious it is difficult to stop or limit yourself to how much you eat. You may think “Japanese are so skinny” yes most Japanese people are skinny, the only thing I can think of is that their bodies are accustomed to eating rice every day.

Using a rice cooker is quite simple. I love that mine sings a tune when the rice is cooked! Some just click so be aware of that. You don’t need to watch the rice cooker as it has a timer. I have never burned rice or killed the pot in 12 years J perfect rice every time and no one can argue with that.

So, how to use this spaceship looking machine. It has plenty of bells and whistles and there are many cooking options available. I even made bread in my rice cooker! Today I am just going to give you the basics and some tips so you can at least cook rice when you get here.

  • The first thing to do is to decide on which rice you want to get. Washed or not washed. Now this may sound a bit weird, but simply there is rice that has been washed so you can cook it straight away and there is rice that hasn’t been washed so you need to wash it before cooking it. I always use not washed, why? Because I believe it tastes better J The kanji to look for, for rice you don’t need to wash is this無洗米 and it is usually at the top corner of the bag. The kanji to look for, for rice you need to wash is this Yep the bag will have NO kanji sign on it.

Please note*

I am explaining how to use rice that hasn’t been washed as it is better! If you use rice that has been washed, you just add water to the number of cups (like I said) and turn it on.

  • Now you have your rice, what to do? So, the ratio is simply 1 cup of rice to the 1 line in the cooking pot, 2 cups of rice to the 2 line in the cooking pot etc. When you are washing rice, add as much water as you want as this is for washing it.
  • The next thing to do is to get your hand in there and give it a good shake around, the water will become a milky color. You then drain that carefully, so you don’t throw the rice down the drain (been there a few times) Then add water and give the rice a good wash. After doing this around three times, the water will be almost clear, and you are good to go!
  • A top tip is to put the water just below the numbered line, if you add too much water it can become mushy like porridge.
  • Now your rice is washed, measured and good to go you need to put the cooking pot back into the machine, close the lid and face the space station!
  • You will see I have translated the basics for you. Once you have closed the lid, press cook. It will automatically start and usually take 43 minutes. There is a fast mode, but the rice come out a little harder. Good if you are in a hurry, but otherwise, I wouldn’t. When the rice has finished and the machine sings a tune to you or simply clicks at you, leave it closed for around 10 minutes. This makes the rice taste even better (or maybe I have been brainwashed) after that you can fluff it up using a rice spoon (don’t know the actual word for it)
  • If you have just arrived and don’t own a rice cooker, make it your priority to get one. If you have a microwave you can buy these little ready to go things of rice. Two minutes in the microwave and its all good.

You can go to the 100-yen shop to get the rice spoon thing and the measuring cup. Please visit this link to view my article on the 100-yen shop

The 100yen shop AKA The pound shop, Dollar shop

Article written by David
Photos by David


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