Rice is Japan’s and other−especially Asian country’s staple food that has a wide variety of products. One type of rice is called brown rice (玄米, genmai), which is whole-grain rice which only the husk (the inedible outermost layer of grain) is removed.
Lately, brown rice often associated with healthy eating because of its nutrition. Health-conscious people beginning to take an attention and change their rice intake to brown rice. However, it may be challenging to immediately swap white rice to brown rice in our meal routine. Especially when we already get used to eating white rice.
In this article, let’s learn how to deliciously cook brown rice from my experience (complete with delicious recipes to try). It would be nice if this article could help you learn more about brown rice!
Japan is a country when people eat at least one bowl of rice per day on average. About 9 million of rice a year consumed in Japan. Mostly consumed rice is the white rice, but recently people starts to take an intention to brown rice.
Brown rice (玄米, genmai) is a whole-grain rice which only the husk (the inedible outermost layer of grain) is removed. With the husk removed, brown rice’s grain is colored yellowish-brown, with the chewier and nuttier taste of grain.
Unlike white rice, brown rice has the bran and cereal germ intact, so they have different nutritional content. This two unremoved layer in brown rice is the source of brown rice’s nutrition. As a result, brown rice packed with more vitamins, mineral, and dietary fiber.
Because brown rice is rich in fiber, it is relatively takes more time to cook than white rice. But please rest assured! You can read the detailed instruction about “How to Cook Brown Rice” with 3 types of methods later in this article.
I like to eat my brown rice fluffy and chewy, so I would like to give my personal tips and tricks about cooking brown rice from my experience.
How to Cook Brown Rice
One of the reasons why people still can’t eat brown rice is maybe because of its firm and rough texture. Incorrect method to cook brown rice could make the cooked brown rice has a hard texture and difficult to chew.
Please rest assured! There are few cooking methods you can try to make your cooked brown rice has a tender, fluffy and chewy texture.
USEFUL TIPS TO KNOW before cooking brown rice:
● The rice and water general ratio for cooking brown rice is around 1:1.5 or 1:2. The water amount will determine the rice's chewiness. In my preference, I like the 1:2 much better because it will have an easy to eat, fluffy, but still chewy brown rice. ● If using the older brown rice, add more water to cook it. Older crop tends to hardly absorb moisture. I would put a ratio of 1:2.3 (rice: water) for cooking older brown rice. ● It’s optional but absolutely worth it: try soaking the brown rice with clean water for 12 hours in summer and 14 hours in winter before cooking to make it easier to absorb moisture. The rice will germinate (which is more nutritious) and chewier, thus become Sprouted Brown Rice. ● To make the seasoned cooked brown rice, you can substitute the water with broth or dashi. To make it more flavorful, try adding 1/4 teaspoon of salt to every gram of rice. ● The rice will evenly be cooked when you see a crab hole-like spreading around the rice.
This article will explain the How to Cook Unseasoned Brown Rice with 3 different methods, suitable for any type of brown rice. By eating the unseasoned rice, you can enjoy the natural texture of brown rice and try to mix it with lots of dishes.
The first method will involve cooking brown rice using equipment, such as an instant pot/pressure cooker/rice cooker. The second method is the stovetop method using either Donabe or pot, while the third method is using the microwave.
1. How to Cook Brown Rice in Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker
You’ll love this method because it only takes around 40 minutes to cook brown rice. Instant Pot is an all-in-one cooker device with many purposes. You can replace the instant pot with pressure cooker or the normal rice cooker.
・Washed Brown Rice
Rinse and carefully drain your brown rice to remove excess dirt. I recommend to rinse up to 4 times.
Add the rinsed brown rice to instant pot/pressure cooker/rice cooker. Pour the water into the instant pot or the utensils you use in precise number. Stir to mix.
Close the pot’s lid select 20 minutes on high pressure (pressure cooker mode). Or let the rice cooker in “cook mode”.
After the cooking time finished, let the cooker release the pressure naturally. Once over, carefully open the lid, stir evenly, and transfer the cooked rice to bowl.
2. How to Cook Brown Rice in Donabe
In Japan, Donabe (earthenware pot) is often used to cook rice since ancient times. This method using Donabe will make your cooked brown rice have the chewy texture! This method involves cooking brown rice on the stovetop. You can replace the Donabe with any pot you have in your kitchen.
・Washed brown rice
1 Gou (Japanese cup) = approx. 160 grams
look at steps below
1. Rinse and carefully drain your brown rice to remove excess dirt for up to 4 times.
Put the rinsed brown rice to the donabe and add water with 1.2-1.5 times the number of brown rice.
Close the donabe’s lid and cook for 17-20 minutes in high heat (if the water spills, reduce the heat and add more cooking time).
When the water gradually decrease, add the second wave of water. This time, please add water with 1.0-1.2 times the number of brown rice. Stir well with the rice.
After it boils, reduce the heat into low heat and cook for 15-20 minutes.
Turn of the heat and let it steam inside the donabe for 10 more minutes.
Carefully open the donabe’s lid, stir the rice evenly, and immediately serve the rice.
3. How to Cook Brown Rice in the Microwave
You can cook brown rice in the microwave. It saves time and effort, but still able to make a bowl of fluffy brown rice. Read more in our article below!
How to Prepare Brown Rice in Microwave? Simple, Tasty, Healthy Recipe Are you dreaming of Asian food? Brown rice with side dishes is one of the comfort food in Asian cuisine. It's everyone's favorite, and it will be yours too after you know more about it. This article will tell you how to cook brown rice in the microwave, the fastest and easiest way to enjoy delicious and fluffy brown rice at any time! Click here to see more >>
Which One to Choose: Long Grain or Short Grain Brown Rice?
You can use the methods introduced above for every type of brown rice (long, medium to short grain brown rice). What you need to know is the difference between long-grain and short-grain brown rice.
Long grain brown rice has a less sticky and firm texture compared to short grain. Each grain is well-separated, so it is perfect for those who want to enjoy every bite of grain. I recommend using long-grain brown rice to make curry rice, Indian, and Middle East recipes.
In my kitchen, I usually cook short grain brown rice. It has a fluffy texture with a perfect size for easy chewing. Because of that, small children can enjoy eating short grain brown rice as well. Let's cook short-grain brown rice for making risotto and Eastern style recipes.
How to Make Brown Rice Taste Good
Substitute water with broth (right) or dashi (left) when cooking brown rice
Brown rice has a natural nutty and earthy flavor. The flavor comes naturally, which makes brown rice is delicious and can be enjoyed together with other food.
However, there is a way to enhance the taste of brown rice further. That is to transform your brown rice to Seasoned Brown Rice. You can use this method to add a "magic touch" to your usual brown rice.
Feel free to vary unseasoned brown rice to seasoned brown rice in your consumption routine!
HOW TO MAKE SEASONED COOKED BROWN RICE: Substitute the water ratio with broth or dashi. To make it more flavorful, try adding 1/4 teaspoon of salt to every gram of rice.
Brown Rice Delicious Recipe
In this article, we would like to introduce three delicious recipes using brown rice. These recipes are delicious and easy to make!
You can find both Asian-style cuisine and Western-style cuisine. Please try it by all means!
This is an Indonesian-styled fried rice recipe, or also called Nasi Goreng in Indonesian. Any grain of cooked brown rice is acceptable for this comfort food. Choose any other proteins you like if chicken and peas are not in your mood!
・Cooked brown rice
1 ½ tablespoons
2 medium cloves
・Mix frozen peas and carrots
1 cup (or in your preference)
・Chicken breast, diced to 1,5 cm pieces
2 ½ tablespoons
・Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat 1 ½ tablespoons of sesame oil in a wok (medium heat). Once hot, add minced onion and mix frozen peas and carrots. Sautee for 30 seconds.
Set the ingredients to the edges of the wok. Add cut chicken breast already seasoned with salt and pepper. Cook both sides of the chicken for 3-4 minutes or until a nice brown.
Once cooked, at minced garlic and Sautee the ingredients for another minute.
Set all the ingredients to the edges. Now add eggs in the center and scramble it.
Add the cooked brown rice (you can use fresh cooked brown rice or yesterday’s leftovers) to the wok. Mix well with the other ingredients.
Add the sauces (Oyster sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and soy sauce) at once. Change to low heat if you afraid of any burn.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Mix the nasi goreng until it has a nice aroma. Turn of the heat and immediately serve.
2. Brown Rice Beef Onigiri
Onigiri or Japanese rice ball is an easy and common rice recipe in Japan. Try using brown rice to shape your onigiri to make it more nutritious. Let’s cook the brown rice first before making onigiri.
・Cooked brown rice
・Rice vinegar or sushi rice seasoning
・Beef meat, thinly sliced
・Green onion, sliced
・Ginger, thinly sliced
Steps (for beef and green onion filling):
Heat water in a pot in medium heat. Add ginger, soy sauce, sugar, sake, and mirin. Bring it to boil.
After it boils, add the beef and stir sufficiently. Cover the pot and continue cooking for 20 minutes or until the liquid is almost all gone.
Sprinkle the meat with sliced green onion and let it cool.
Steps (for making onigiri):
While cooking the meat, prepare the cooked brown rice by mix the rice with rice vinegar.
To make onigiri, wet your hands with water and salt. Scoop a palmful amount of rice in one hand. Then make a dent in the center.
Add the beef and green onion filling in the center as much as you want.
Press and form into a triangle shape, or all ball shape.
3. Meat and Mushroom Brown Rice Risotto
Short-grain rice is the perfect rice type to cook risotto. By cooking it using brown rice, it would be more nutritious, and you don’t have to worry about brown rice’s firm texture. Adding shimeji mushroom is also a perfect match to brown rice because it has a nutty flavor once it’s cooked.
・Small-grain brown rice
・Chicken or vegetable broth, warmed
・Sweet potato, cut
・Beef meat, sliced
・Shimeji mushroom, sliced
・Parmesan cheese, grated
optional (for dressing)
1 tablespoon (for dressing)
Heat olive oil in medium/large pan in medium heat. Add onion and sauté for several minutes until soft (not brown).
Add brown rice and minced garlic, sprinkle some salt and stir for several minutes until the rice coated with oil.
Add white wine and stir until it is absorbed completely (around 1 minute).
Pour 1/2 chicken or vegetable broth and stir evenly. Repeat this step 4 times until all broth is absorbed completely to the rice. This may take 30-40 minutes.
Add cut sweet potato into the pot with rice and let it cook together with the rice.
At the last 20 minutes of the rice cooking, prepare the meat and mushroom. Warm up 2 tablespoons of olive oil in another pan. Add the sliced meat and shimeji mushroom with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir it occasionally until dark brown and soft.
Back to the rice. After nicely absorbed, reduce the heat and stir the rice with adding parmesan cheese and lemon zest. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve the hot, creamy risotto in a plate. Put the meat and mushroom above the risotto and garnish it with parmesan cheese.
Shelf Life of Brown Rice
Both uncooked and cooked brown rice can easily be stored. Let's pay attention to where to store it and the brown rice shelf life according to the storage method.
In case of uncooked brown rice, store it in a cool place up to 6 months. It is also recommended to store it in refrigerator in summer because it could last up to 10 months.
In case of cooked brown rice, please cool down the temperature first before storing it. Cover the brown rice in airtight container and store it in refrigerator for 4 days. You can also store it in freezer for up to 5 months.
How to Tell If Brown Rice has Gone Bad?
Some signs to tell that your rice has gone bad is its form, smell and texture. Please discard it if there’s an unpleasant smell coming from both uncooked and cooked brown rice.
Mold, insects, and discolorations are the signs when the uncooked brown rice has gone bad.
Spoiled cooked brown rice also has a super hard and dry texture. Lastly, avoid storing the cooked brown rice at room temperature for too long. The room temperature may lead to bacterial growth that could become food poison.
Fermenting The Cooked Brown Rice will make it More Delicious!
Do you know that cooked brown rice can be fermented simply by cooking it further?
By fermenting and keep the cooked brown rice warm for 2 to 3 days, it will transform to Enzyme Brown Rice (酵素玄米, Koso Genmai).
Enzyme brown rice is a popular, delicious, and healthy carbs option in Japan. Take a look at this video to know more about how to make Enzyme Brown Rice!
Fermenting cooked brown rice will generate melanoidin. It is a polymeric compound that contributes to the brown rice taste and aroma. Furthermore, the existence of melanoidin helps brown rice becomes Enzyme Brown Rice without decay.
BENEFITS FROM FERMENTING BROWN RICE: ● Increase GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and other nutrients that contained in the brown rice, ● Enjoy the puffy texture, ● Increase the umami flavour.
Fermenting brown rice to make Enzyme Brown Rice takes a long time to cook, but it’s very rewarding, so please give it a try!
How to Make Enzyme Brown Rice (Koso Genmai) Koso Genmai (Enzyme/Fermented Brown Rice) is brown rice that cooked together with Azuki beans and salt, and fermented by keeping it in warm temperature for about two or three days. By fermenting the brown rice, you can increase nutrients that in the brown rice, make the brown rice fluffier, and increase the umami flavor. Enzyme brown rice is very rewarding to try because of its delicious taste and health merits. Click here to see more >>
How to Cook Brown Rice Q&A
How many cups of brown rice I can eat every day?
Brown rice certainly has potential nutrients for our health. We would like to recommend 2 cups is the maximum consumption per day. But let's consume brown rice moderately, not every day. Please vary your carb intake with brown rice in your well-balanced diet.
How to cook brown rice?
We recommend 3 methods to cook brown rice.
First is Cook Brown Rice in Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker, this method offers less time and more easy to handle. Second method is to Cook Brown Rice with Donabe. This method is a well-known method in Japan when you could enjoy the tender brown rice’s taste together with donabe (earthen pot). Lastly, you can also Cook Brown Rice in the Microwave!
Seek more details about “How to Cook Brown Rice” in this section.
How long do you cook brown rice for?
Depends on the amount of rice and the appliances to cook brown rice, it may take up to 1 hour or more to completely cook brown rice.
What is the ratio of brown rice to water?
The rice and water ratio for cooking brown rice is around 1:1.5 or 1:2. I recommend the 1:2 much better because I like to eat my brown rice fluffy but still chewy.
As for cooking older brown rice crop, the ratio is 1:2.3 (rice: water).
How long to soak brown rice?
Soaking brown rice is optional, but it’s worth trying. Please soak brown rice with clean water for 12 hours in summer and 14 hours in winter before cooking.
Soaking the rice is helps reduce phytic acid and abscisic acid content in brown rice, which will make it germinated, thus become sprouted brown rice.
I always ended up cooking brown rice with a hard texture. How to make fluffy brown rice?
● If you are using the older brown rice, add more water to cook it.
● Try soaking the brown rice with clean water for 12 hours in summer and 14 hours in winter before cooking to make it easier to absorb moisture, reduce the arsenic, phytic acid, and abscisic acid content.
● Try cook your brown rice using Donabe. This method includes adding water twice, so it could make the rice more tender. Click here to learn about Cook Brown Rice with Donabe.
The difference between cooking long grain and short grain brown rice?
You can choose the same method to cook long grain or short grain brown rice. The only difference is its texture once cooked.
Long grain has a less sticky and firmer texture. Meanwhile, short grain has a fluffy texture, thus easier to chew. Please choose the grain size according to your rice recipe and preference.
How to make brown rice taste good?
If you want to make brown rice taste better, simply make it as seasoned brown rice. Substitute the water when making brown rice with broth or dashi. It's optional, but add 1/4 teaspoon of salt to every gram of rice to make it more flavorful.
Seasoned cooked brown rice is very delicious and recommended to enjoy alongside with side dishes. Meat, tofu, eggs, stir-fry dishes, miso soup, or any side dishes are acceptable, so please find your favorite!
What is the shelf life of brown rice?
If you wonder about brown rice shelf life or how long does it last, it depends whether the brown rice is uncooked or cooked. Please follow the brown rice’s storage method below to make your rice last longer.
● Uncooked Brown Rice 6 months……………………………store in cool place 10 months…………………………store in refrigerator
● Cooked Brown Rice (cover in airtight container) 4 days………………………..store in refrigerator 5 months……………………store in freezer
How do you know when brown rice has gone bad?
Please pay attention to its form, smell and texture. If you notice unpleasant smell from either uncooked or cooked brown rice, please discard it immediately.
Kawashima the Japan Store team member responsible for writing content. I like mountains, but I'm not good at handling insects. I enjoy writing articles about healthy lifestyle while drinking a cup of Cafe Latte.
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