1. Polish the rice.
Rice needs polishing before cooking. It has been a long controversy
among the Japanese people whether you should “wash” or “polish” rice. Recently,
rice milling machines are advanced enough, and some people believe that just
washing the rice available in the shops is enough. However, when you polish the
rice, even if in a hurry, there will be no remains of the rice bran smell. I
think you can do either, depending on your personal preference. In my case, I
polish the rice with the back of my hand without applying force, and change the
water for ten times or so until it is clear.
2. Soak the rice.
Rice’s texture is similar to that of a desiccated vegetable. Therefore,
it needs soaking. Soak the rice to the core, and you will be able to cook it
thoroughly to the core. Cooking time depends on water temperature and room temperature. So
it takes about 30 minutes in the summer and one hour in the winter. You will
know that the rice is soaked enough when it turns cloudy white like in photo
3. Measure the amount of water and cook.
Put the soaked rice in a pot and pour the water. Quickly level the rice so that the surface is flat. Bring the rice
to boil over high heat. Keep the high heat for two more minutes until the water
bubbles and starts to overflow from the pot.
Turn down the heat to medium low for 3 minutes and then turn down to low
heat for 5 more minutes until almost all the liquid is absorbed. After a total
time of 10 minutes, open the lid and check whether any water remains. If there
is still some water, let the rice cook a while longer over low heat. Finally,
cook over high heat for 10 to 20 seconds with the lid covered.
4. Steam the cooked rice.
Slip a kitchen cloth between the pot and the lid and wait
for 10 minutes to steam. Steaming is important to make the rice fluffy. If you
see “crab holes”, small holes of air in the rice, it is a sign that you’ve done
everything right. Gently stir the rice to mix in the air. If possible, move the rice into “ohitsu”, a Japanese wooden container for rice. Wait until the remaining water is absorbed before serving.