Basic Boiled Rice


The Japanese serve unseasoned, unadorned short-grained rice with nearly every meal. Its subtle flavor is the perfect foil for other more complex dishes. The chart 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 raw rice used.) It is extremely difficult to cook less than 1 cup of raw rice, and I recommend making 1½ cups or more at a time. Leftover rice responds well to freezing and microwave-reheating.


raw rice cold water
1 cup 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons
cups scant cups
cups cups
cups 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons
2 cups 2⅓ cups


  1. Place the rice in a bowl and cover it with cold water. Stir the rice vigorously; the water will become cloudy with starch from the rice grains. 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.
  2. Drain the washed rice well after the final rinsing. You will 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.
  3. 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. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid.
  4. Over high heat, bring the water to a rolling boil. It’s best not to remove the lid to check on the progress. Instead, rely on other clues: You can hear bubbling noises and see the lid begin to dance when the water boils. (This should take from 3 to 5 minutes.)
  5. Reduce the heat and continue to cook until the water is absorbed (about 5 minutes). Again, rely on sound: You will hear a low hissing sound when it is done. If you must check, peek quickly, replacing the lid immediately.
  6. Increase the heat to high again for 30 seconds, to dry off the rice. Remove the pot, still tightly covered, from the heat and let the rice stand for at least 10 minutes. Even if you wish to serve the rice piping hot, these final minutes of self-steaming are necessary to achieve the proper texture.