Rice for 1

If I’m going to be home at lunch time, I prefer to make my rice fresh when I’m about to eat (it just tastes better in my opinion).

Only problem is, I don’t always need to stock up my freezer stash of rice, so there’s no point using my rice cooker (I need to cook a minimum of 2 cups in that, and that’s 4 serves once it’s cooked). So I’ve fine-tuned this stove-top method to make it useable for a single serve.

What you’ll need:

  • a very small pan with a heavy base and a well-sealing lid (I use this one) – if you can get a pot with a glass lid it makes everything a heap easier
  • bowl
  • fine mesh sieve/strainer
  • 1/2 cup dry japonica rice (also called “sushi rice”)


  1. Rinse the rice 3-4 times. The video below from Just One Cookbook shows the proper method for rinsing the rice and also gives a really good idea of what the water should look like at the end of the process. This tutorial is what I used as a baseline for my experiments with times for cooking a single serve of rice.
  2. Drain the rice well (leaving it in the strainer over a bowl), and leave for about 10-15mins.
  3. Put rice into saucepan with some water (For 1/2 cup dry rice, you’ll need 1/2 cup + 1/8 cup of water). Allow to soak for about 10-15mins.
  4. After it has soaked, put the pot on the stove at medium heat (with lid on) until the water boils. This is where a glass lid comes in handy! If you don’t have a glass lid to your pot, listen out for the bubbling and have a quick peek (don’t take the lid fully off, just lift it enough to check that the water is boiling).
  5. Once the water is boiling, take the pot off the hotplate and turn it off. LEAVE THE LID ON. Allow the hotplate to cool for approx 2 mins, then turn it back on at low heat. Replace the pot (lid still on) and cook for 8mins without lifting the lid.
    Gas cooker: Once the water is boiling, turn the gas down to low and cook for 10mins (covered). I’m figuring that this will be roughly equivalent to the electric instructions, because SCIENCE REASONS involving ambient heat and heat retention.
  6. After the timer goes off, remove pot from heat and allow to sit for 10mins COVERED. Do not lift the lid at all unless you absolutely MUST peek at your rice.
  7. After the 10 mins, take off the lid and give the rice a gentle stir with a rice paddle. There should not be any water in the bottom of the pot, but occasionally there might be. If there is, put the lid back on and heat over medium heat for a minute or so, until the water is gone. Allow to sit (covered) for a couple of minutes afterwards.
  8. Your rice is now ready to eat!

If you’re putting rice in a bento box, you should always allow it to cool before sealing the box, or the steam will make it go a bit slimy. You can eat the rice plain, or you can top it with just about anything! If I’m putting it in a bento, I’ll usually put a bit of my homemade nori furikake on it.

This makes 1 cup of cooked rice, which is a good-sized serve for your average adult female. 1 cup of rice will make approximately 3 average-sized onigiri if you want to do that. This is a great tutorial of how to make onigiri in an easy, mess-free way (it’s how I make them).

– Rice on the bottom of your pan is all brown and crunchy, but the rest of the rice is fine: you may be cooking the rice on too high a heat (or for too long). High heat is most likely, so try cooking it on a lower heat. Generally this will solve the issue.
– There is ALWAYS water left at the bottom of your pot at step 6: try cooking on a slightly higher heat or for an additional minute or two. Alternatively, if rice is cooked through and there is left over water, use slightly less (see the last point about the weather and humidity)
– Rice is gloopy once all the water is absorbed: there may be too much starch left on the outside. Try rinsing the rice a few extra times next time.
– Rice goes mushy and loses its shape: you are using too much water. Use a little less water next time (this will tie in with the 2nd troubleshooting point as well). Generally, I use a 1:1.25 (rice:water) ratio for the stovetop instructions above.
– Rice is not cooked all the way through, and all water is absorbed: add a little extra water. I find in very dry weather (i.e. winter for me) I need to add a little extra water, so in winter I sometimes use a 1:1.5 ratio instead.



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