How to Make Perfect Korean Steamed Rice (Step. 3 : How to soak and cook the rice)

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Perfect Korean Steamed Rice

After buying good rice and rinsing the rice properly, we need to soak the rice in water.
The reason is to make evenly cooked rice and to make each rice grain sticky and resilient (“gelatinization”). However if you soak it too long, it can become brittle and lose some nutrition. So we need to do it for the right amount of time. Then what is the right amount of time?

-How long to soak the rice-

  • Soak the rice in water for 30 minutes in summer and 1-2 hours in winter minimum.

(The temperature is based on the Korean climate ; Seoul’s average daily high temperature – summer : 27℃, winter : 3℃)

Once the soaking is done, we can finally start boiling.
First we need to add an adequate amount of water to the rice. The adequate amount can vary depending on the the type of rice, condition of the rice and type of cooking method, but we usually need to add 1.5 times more water compared to the rice weight or 1.2 times more water compared to the rice volume.

Measuring water - the knuckle method

(However, I always measure it manually. The so called “Knuckle method” – Add the water until it covers near my knuckles when my hand is flat on the rice. Does it sound logical to you? A lot of Koreans seem to use this method too. It’s not just me. :) )

The rice cooking process goes Boiling – Simmering – Thoroughly steaming. If you use an electric rice cooker like I do, we just put the rice and water into the cooker and press the button. However if you use the stove top method then there are a couple of things you need to be aware of.

-How to cook Korean steamed rice on the stove-
:Recommended by a rice expert in the Rural Development Administration (Korean government)

  1. Boil the rice for 5-10 minutes on high heat (The water gets absorbed into the rice and the rice expands).
  2. Turn the heat down to medium and simmer it for 7-8 minutes (During this time we are accelerating the gelitinization process – making each rice grain sticky and resilient).
  3. As the water gets absorbed into the rice or evaporates, reduce the heat to low gradually. Do not open the lid at this point. When the water has nearly disappeared, turn the heat off.
  4. Let the rice sit (thoroughly steam) for 10-15 minutes with the lid on.
  5. Then stir the rice around (top to bottom, side to side) lightly with the rice scoop (It is to evaporate extra moisture, even out the rice taste, and keep the good shape).

Now, theoretically, we should be able to make perfect Korean steamed rice. Fingers crossed for you all!

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How to cook Korean steamed rice on the stove
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Korean
Ingredients
  • Short or Medium grain rice
  • Water
Instructions
  1. Boil the rice for 5-10 minutes on high heat (The water gets absorbed into the rice and the rice expands).
  2. Turn the heat down to medium and simmer it for 7-8 minutes (During this time we are accelerating the gelitinization process – making each rice grain sticky and resilient).
  3. As the water gets absorbed into the rice or evaporates, reduce the heat to low gradually. Do not open the lid at this point. When the water has nearly disappeared, turn the heat off.
  4. Let the rice sit (thoroughly steam) for 10-15 minutes with the lid on.
  5. Then stir the rice around (top to bottom, side to side) lightly with the rice scoop (It is to evaporate extra moisture, even out the rice taste, and keep the good shape).

 

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About Sue

Hi, I'm Sue and I am the author/cook/photographer behind My Korean Kitchen. Thank you for joining me in this delicious culinary journey!

Comments

  1. Thaaaaanks for the instruction!!!

    I’m so happy that I could finally make the kind of rice I see when I’m watching korean tv shows. ^-^

    Thaaanks you so much!! :)

  2. Omg. Im kinda confused.. when do I put the lid on??.. and should I stir it? Or put oil in it so it wont stick to the pan.. and should I get a certain brand of rice..

  3. Do I use the glutinous or sushi setting to make regular white rice in the cuckoo rice cooker? I was told glutinous is for white rice but it comes out too sticky, I had put less water but then it was still sticky and it wasn’t cooked all the way. THe rice wasn’t fluffy enough.

  4. awesome tips! finally the mystery was cracked whether the Korean restaurants imported a particular rice…….thanks to u, managed to make nice sticky rice with good ol’ Indian rice :)

  5. Wait, so when does the top go on the rice for the stove top method? Right away or only after the water reaches a boil?

    Also, how do you know if it should be 5 or 10 minutes for the first part? Are you waiting for the water to be nearly evaporated?

    Thanks for the great post! My boyfriend is Cambodian and his family uses the finger method. I’m great with long grain rice, but me and sticky rice need to get to know each other better :P.

  6. I think best method is
    Step 1
    Soak rice 30 min
    Step 2
    Boil the rice putting more water then the level of rice.
    Step 3
    Check the rice is cooked after 10 min to 20 mins
    Step4
    Remove extra water it is to good to remove the extra water to remove the starch from rice.
    Step 5
    Then keep for 2 mins more.You will get good steam rice with low calore

  7. Does the rice prepared in a Korean rice cooker taste different than the rice prepared in a non-Korean rice cooker? If so, what is the difference?

    Thanks – Emily

  8. Wait, so you don’t wait for the water to boil before putting the rice in…?
    Anyway, thanks for the knuckle method. It helped me a lot. I always put too much or to little water.
    Very helpful!
    :D

    • Hi Agii,

      Well, I only use the pot in a very extream situation. :) But no, you don’t wait for the water to boil. You put the rice and water, put the lid on then boil.

  9. i am hosting a korean exchange student and was obviously not cooking the rice properly.
    I got some great tips on this site thanks(I am sure Solbee thanks you too)

  10. I was asking about how to make perfect rice in your other post, finally found this one. Thanks for the information, I always thought my grandmother was soaking too long :)

  11. Whenever i try to boil the rice with the lid on the pan, for some reason the pan begins to bubble up then start overflowing, regardless of whatever heat i have it on.
    Any ideas as to why this is?

  12. thanks for the instruction. I tried to make the perfect rice for a long time but now finally make it. thanks again for the great blog.

  13. I’m Korean. This instruction is so nice(Thanks!), but looks a bit complicated even for me. I simply make Korean steamed rice like this. You can skip the process soaking the rice in the water if you don’t have time(usually I don’t, but recommend doing it and in fact, many koreans do that.)and when you put the pot having the rice on the stove after measuring the amount of rise, bring to a boil. As soon as it starts boiling and reduce the heat to the lowest and simmer it until i think it’s done.(Honestly, my pot has burned from time to time because i boil it on the highest hit for a long time)Don’t think my instruction is typical making korean steamed rice. this is just my way ;-) and wanted to give you easier way. Happy cooking!

  14. It’s really good for the cooking the rice cooker. It’s easy to make it.

  15. I also use the knuckle method and also use the finger method. I my middle finger in the water and make sure it cover half of finger where my finger naturally creases. It works every time! I don’t recommend a strainer because that way all the debris and such float to the top and run out with the water. I think that’s the reason for not using a strainer. The rice will stay at the bottom since they weigh the same and debris weighs differently.

  16. Whats the best rice to buy for stickey rice?

  17. great recipes and easy to follow, but what brand of Korean rice do you use? My wife and I eat a small Korean restaurant and we asked them what rice they used and they said something like “hepban.” But I don’t see that anywhere. Any help on names of good rices would be appreciated.
    thank you.
    –Alan

    • Phillip says:

      oh that hepban ‘햇반’ is a microwavable instant rice, which is available in any korean convienient stores eg. family mart, ministop, 7eleven etc.

    • Yes, Alan
      Phillip is correct. Hepban is a microwavable instant rice. At present I am using sunrice (www.sunrice.com.au). It’s the most commonly available short/medium grain rice brand in Australia. But I miss my Korean rice s~o much!! Korean rice is heaps better!

      The most popular Korean brand rice are available from the below link. Hopefully the link stays the same forever. :)

      http://shopping.naver.com/search/all_search.nhn?query=%EC%8C%80&frm=NVSCPRO

  18. This is amazing!!
    I mean i just love ur site..the pictures and everything are so fine ^^

  19. This is a great tutorial. Thanks!

    I never washed my rice that much but will start~~

  20. A Korean friend of mine showed me the knuckle method, too, and ever since I have used it, my rice comes out just fine! Also, I rinse the rice in a fine-meshed sieve under running water, swishing it around with my hands a few times until the water runs almost clear.

  21. Ah~ I always use the 1.5 times method, using the rice measurement bowl. But sometimes the bottom part burned. :O

    I never know we must soak the rice first…I always rinse, rinse, put on the rice cooker, push button, and wait. Rice never met stove in my life.

    Thanks for all the tips~ I’ll start using them ^^

  22. My mother taught me this method, and it works every time. Pull all the rice to one side of the pot. Then fill the other half with water to the same level as the rice. No knuckles, no hands, nothing. easy.

  23. Eun Jeong taught me the knuckle method. Yet my hands are way too big for the rice cooker, so I use the “inverse knuckle” method, where I turn my hand knuckles down and see if the water goes above my fingers.

    And, yeah, *I* had to teach her how to cook rice on the stove top.

  24. I’ve been so spoiled with a rice cooker all my life that my friends were shocked, beyond speech that I had to look up how to cook rice on stovetop!!!!

  25. Thank you for this great blog!! My kids and I just returned from Korea and I was determined to make authentic Jajangmyun, not that stuff from the packet.

    Thanks for the great recipe. I will stop back often.

  26. jorgebob says:

    I’ve been told that much of the Japanese and Korean types of rice grown and sold in the US doesn’t have rice bran coating it but corn starch instead. You still need to wash the rice, as far as I’m concerned, except for (supposedly) the new musenmai type that claims that no washing is needed.

  27. My Aunt taught me the knuckle method. My mom taught me how to cook rice,on the stove, when I was very young and she told me to always rinse the rice.

  28. I use a similar method to the knuckle method (good for people with big hands). Stick the index finger on the surface of the rice (make sure it’s uniformly flat) and bring the water level up to the first joint. It works every time with every kind of rice I’ve ever cooked!

  29. The “knuckle” method words like a charm, my grandma taught me well!

  30. I’ve heard about the knuckle method but like Jeff, my hands are wider than my rice cooker pot, so I’ll just estimate about 1cm of water above the rice for whatever volume of rice I add to the rice cooker pot. :)

  31. I love the knuckle method, but I think my hand is wider than most of my pots. I’m going to have to stick to a rice cooker as well!

  32. I am so thankful for my rice cooker, but if I had to do it with the stove, I think I could do it using your tips! Thanks!

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