Discovering Japanese Rice

Recently, The Japan Rice and Rice Industry Export Promotion Association visited Victoria to host a special event called The Fine Grain: New Cuisine and Cocktail Competition Inspired by Japanese Rice. Three Victoria chefs and three Victoria bartenders prepared rice dishes and sake cocktails for an enthusiastic crowd of media and influencers at the Union Club. It was also an opportunity to learn more about this high quality agricultural product.

Known in Canada as sushi rice, Japanese rice is a short grain rice that when cooked properly has a sticky texture that can easily be picked up with chopsticks. The majority of Japanese rice is polished to remove the hard outer skin (rice bran) and consumed as hakumai (“white rice”). White rice is the foundation of Japanese cooking and is served with most meals. It’s also used in the production of sake, vinegar, crackers and flour.

How the rice is “milled” is important in determining the flavor of the rice. In Japan the best rice is sweet, juicy, and fragrant.

Japanese rice can be used to make whatever rice dish you want from simple, plain rice (which is often accompanied by miso soup) to stir-fries to a myriad of Japanese recipes such as Onigiri (Japanese rice balls), Takikomi Gohan (flavored rice) or dishes such as Japanese raw fish donburi or Oyakodon, chicken and egg rice.


To buy Japanese-grown rice in Victoria visit

Victoria Fujiya

3624 Shelbourne Street

Victoria, BC, V8P 4H2

Phone: 250-598-3711


To Cook Japanese Rice

It is important to cook rice with great care.

To make 4 cups of cooked rice, you will need:

  • A heavy-bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid, or an electric rice cooker
  • 2 cups of uncooked japonica rice or ‘sushi rice’
  • 2 1/4 cups of water (If using a rice cooker, add water up to the specified level marked in the inner bowl)

Measure out the rice carefully into your pot and rinse vigorously under running water. Swish the rice around with your hands – the water will turn a milky white color.

Drain the cloudy water away and add fresh water, and swish the rice around again. Repeat this step 2 – 3 times.

Drain, leaving just a little water, and rub the grains together several times with the palms of your hands gently as if you were polishing them.

Add plenty of fresh water and rinse out the rice. Drain and rinse until the water is almost clear.

Drain the rice in a fine mesh sieve and leave for a little while, preferably at least 30 minutes.

Put rice in a rice cooker or pot. Add the water to the rice. At this point you should let the rice soak for a while. The length of time depends on the quality and freshness of the rice. The older the rice, the longer it needs to soak. Soaking for at least 30 minutes to an hour is generally recommended, but don’t soak for more than 8 hours or so or the rice will get a bit watery and lose any flavor.

If you are using a pot, bring to a boil over medium heat then put on a tight fitting lid. Cook on high for 1 minute, then reduce the heat to medium, and cook for another 4-5 minutes until you can see the surface of the rice, then reduce to low heat for about 10 minutes or until the water is completely absorbed. (Don’t open the lid to peek!) Turn up to high heat for a few seconds to get rid of any excess moisture if necessary.

If you are using a pot, remove it from the heat and drape a cloth over the pan for about 10-15 minutes to let it fully absorb the moisture and rest. This final step really makes a difference if you want grains that stick together but are not mushy or watery. A good rice cooker includes this resting time in the cooking cycle, and also allows for condensation to evaporate, so you don’t need the cloth draping step.

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