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What do you need to cook perfect rice?

Two of the most frequently asked questions in our Sushi Classes are: Where to get fresh fish for sushi and how to cook perfect sushi rice.

(Here is an article on how to find fresh fish in San Francisco Bay Area.)

So in this article, I thought to explain to you about cooking rice.

First is the tool.

Rice Cooker.

I highly, strenuously recommend using a rice cooker, especially if you are using a pot.


Because it’s so nonchalant! You put rice and hit the switch. After thirty to forty minutes, your rice would be ready.

Please please trust me on this. It's worth the investment, and I will list some of my rice cooker recommendations ranging from $30~.

If you are having no (or little) luck in making rice, by all means, it's for you, not so much for me: buy a rice cooker.

Still skeptical about a rice cooker?

All right then. I will explain why.

Cooking rice is a very complex process, and it involves science: Chemistry.

The reason you are (probably) having such a difficult time making rice is because you are doing backward.

What do I mean by that?

Before, I had difficulty explaining why it's so difficult until I read this brilliant article here.

In short, we all look at the recipe first, and it will say something like: 1cup rice and 1cup water in a pot, boil for ten minutes and simmer for ten.

So, according to Pete Vegas, the most important thing about cooking rice is "how much water you lose during cooking."

Let me explain this in the simplest way I can.

Let's just say, to make perfect rice; we want to achieve 60% moisture content.

We need three things: rice, water, cooking container (rice cooker or pot)

To reach 60% moisture content, the followings are the variables:

  1. How much water to use (at the beginning)

  2. How long do you soak the rice in water before starting cooking

  3. How long do you cook the rice

  4. How much moisture do you lose

The last item #4, How much moisture you lose during cooking does affect how much water you use in the beginning. Because each pot is unique and will lose a different amount of moisture during cooking, that is why the online recipe never works, according to Pete. Even then, as I've experienced many times, you need to experiment and find out the exact amount of water to cook the rice through trial and error.

So, that is why I recommend a rice cooker. It will be much easier because when you use a rice cooker, the recipe you see online will work better for you than if you were using a pot.

A rule of thumb: The higher the rice cooker is, the better the rice will taste.

There are many other brands including Aroma.

This basic model does make good rice and is great for those who will use it occasionally and even for those who eat rice every day.

There are many other brands.

Aroma ($30)

Aroma 5.5-cup ($59)

I say this one is a good medium-range rice cooker and definitely makes better rice than the $30 aroma.

The following two models are, more like the ones people use in Japan. Because most people eat rice every day in Japan, they buy higher-priced rice cookers. These days, an average rice cooker starts around $500, and some are $800~$1,000 range!

Again, the main difference is the taste of rice.

I would say that unless you are a serious (like every day) rice eater, no need to go for the higher-priced rice cooker.

That being said, once you try a really really nice one, there is no going back, is my opinion.

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