Washoku Lesson

Washing Japanese Rice

White rice is Japan's staple food, and it has a very particular preparation process. First we'll take a detailed look at the washing method; in our next issue we'll follow up on how best to cook the rice.

Japanese Rice
Japanese Rice

Togu: Washing Rice

Before cooking, white rice is first rinsed with water, then "washed" so as to remove rice bran from the outer hull: the word togu is used to describe this "washing," or rubbing together, of the rice grains. This step is also referred to as migaku, which means "to polish." Togu involves using brisk, light pressure only briefly to ensure that just the rice bran is removed and that vital nutrients in the rice are retained.

  1. 1Place rice in a bowl; pour water quickly into bowl until it covers the rice completely. (photo[1])
  2. 2To wash the rice, use one hand to mix the rice around with brisk, light movements. (photo[2])
  3. 3Pour out all the water.*1 Repeat these three steps. (photo[3])
  1. 1With fingers curled as though holding a ball, insert your hand into the rice and, using a constant rhythm and pace, rub the grains of rice around several times.*2 (photo[4])
Final rinsing:
  1. 1Add plenty of fresh water; mix again lightly and quickly drain it off. Repeat steps 4-5 until the water runs nearly clear.
  1. *1Tip the bowl to drain off the water while being careful not to spill the rice.
  2. *2Use only light pressure in order to keep the delicate grains of rice intact; if they break, nutrients may be lost. For this reason, only hands are used to wash rice. Never use a whisk or other tool.

The rice is now ready to be moved into a cooking pot for boiling. This final step will be explained in the next issue.