Food, Home & Lifestyle

Shokuji: Rice and Pickles

Niki Nakayama

Lesson time 15:15 min

In kaiseki, the last course is often a simple bowl of rice with pickles. Learn how to prepare the perfect bowl of rice and how to reuse dashi for a pickle brine.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: The Art of Washing Rice · Quick-Pickled Vegetables · Properly Cooked Rice


PROFESSOR: In this demo, we're going to teach you about rice and Japanese quick pickles. - I'm going to show you this very simple process of washing rice. It's simple, but it's also very important. Well, I'm going to go over to the sink and I generally like washing my rice in this kind of manner with a strainer and a bowl of water, because it helps me remove the water quickly without having to spill any of the rice. So, I make sure the water's cool, and we'll run it slow. It's really important to swish that rice around in the bowl. The process of washing rice is actually really important because it helps you determine the moisture level content of the rice. Sometimes, when the rice is really hard, you'll notice when you're washing it. You can feel it. And then when the rice is really soft, because there's more moisture, it's a younger rice. You'll see little remnants of cracked rices in the water. And as you notice, while I'm washing this rice there's a good amount of starch that's coming out and what we want to do is make sure that we rinse as much of that starch away as possible. So I like to swish it around a little bit and sort of gently run my fingers through this rice. Rinse it and toss away that first batch of water. This first batch of rice water is actually really good to boil bitter daikon, and it actually helps the daikon become a little bit sweeter, and it creates this wonderful texture with daikon. So if you ever have a super bitter daikon you can save that rice water to blanch or boil the daikon in. Sometimes in Japan, many chefs who learn how to wash rice end up washing rice for many years because it's the understanding of how the rice that you're working with is going to behave. In that way, even though there are ratios and recipes on how to cook rice with the water, sometimes you have to make adjustments based on the rice, or sometimes even the humidity level in the air. All those little things play a factor in how the overall product turns out. Okay, we're almost there. You can see how the water is clear. We want to try to get as much of the starch out as possible because it helps with the viscosity levels, especially when it comes to sushi. You don't want super sticky, super, super, starchy rice, because that just makes the rice clump up and very hard to work with and to form the sushi. So these little bits of rice left over tells you that, yes, the rice is somewhat soft. It's not too soft. If it were a lot softer you would get a lot bigger chunks. And here we have a pot that has already been seasoned. We're going to make sure that our rice is fairly dry before we put it in. The amount of water that we're adding is about 11% more in weight than the original measurement of the rice when it was dry. You can tell when the rice is washed really well that you can see the rice clearly. It's not cloudy. When the rice isn't washed good enough then it will be cloudy, so you'll have to rewash that. So now w...

About the Instructor

The chef and owner of two-Michelin-starred restaurant n/naka in Los Angeles, Niki Nakayama is celebrated for her modern interpretation of kaiseki, a traditional Japanese cuisine. With her partner and sous chef, Carole, Niki will teach you techniques for preparing sashimi, tempura, perfect rice, and more. Learn how to make dishes that honor fresh ingredients as Niki shows you how to cook with care and gratitude.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

Niki Nakayama

Niki Nakayama of two-Michelin-starred n/naka teaches you how to honor fresh ingredients with her innovative take on Japanese home cooking techniques.

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