Basic Boiled Rice


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

An American Taste of Japan

An American Taste of Japan

By Elizabeth Andoh

Published 1985

  • About

The Japanese serve unseasoned, unadorned, cooked short-grained rice with nearly every meal. Its subtle flavor becomes the perfect foil for other, more complex dishes. The list that follows shows the amount of fresh cold water needed to cook various quantities of raw rice. The yield of cooked rice is about double the quantity of raw rice used. It’s extremely difficult to cook less than 1 cup of raw rice, and I recommend making cups or more at a time. Leftover rice responds well to freezing and microwave reheating.


  • For 1 cup raw rice, use 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold water
  • For ¼ cups raw rice, use a scant cups cold water
  • For cups raw rice, use cups cold water
  • For cups raw rice, use 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons cold water
  • For 2 cups raw rice, use 2⅓ cups cold water


Place the rice in a bowl and cover with cold water. Stir the rice vigorously; it will become cloudy with starch from the rice grains. (Occasionally small pebbles or bits of straw are found mixed with the rice; discard these bits, which were used as abrasives to help separate the hull from the kernel after the rice was harvested.) Strain the rice, discarding the cloudy water, and repeat the washing procedure with fresh cold water. Continue to rinse, swish, and strain until the rinsing water runs clear. This will probably require three or four washings. Drain the washed rice well after the final rinse. You’ll notice that the rice has become slightly more opaque; the kernels have begun to absorb moisture from the washing process and this will ensure tender cooked rice.

Place the rice in a sturdy, straight-sided pot. For a single cup of rice use a 2-quart pot; for 2 cups of raw rice a 3- to 3½-quart capacity is best. Measure in the indicated amount of fresh cold water. Ideally, the rice should sit in its measured water for 10 minutes before cooking, but if you’re pressed for time, add a few drops more water and cook right away. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid.

Over high heat, bring the water in the pot to a rolling boil. It’s best not to remove the lid to check on the rice’s progress. Instead, rely on other clues; you can hear the bubbling noises and see the lid begin to dance. This should take 3–5 minutes. Reduce the heat and continue to cook until the water is absorbed. This will take about 5 minutes and you may hear a low hissing sound. If you must check, peek quickly, replacing the lid immediately. Increase the heat to high again for 30 seconds to dry off the rice. Remove the pot, still tightly covered, and let the rice stand for at least 10 minutes. Even if you wish to serve it piping hot, these final minutes of self-steaming are necessary to achieve the proper texture.