Rice has been the main staple food in Asian countries for several thousand years. Whole grain brown rice is nutrient rich; protein, vitamins and minerals are all condensed into a tiny grain – which makes it a true power food.

When we talk about ‘whole grain’ we mean just that – it is still whole and complete, in its natural state. It has not had the husk removed and if you put it in water, it would sprout – it is alive!

There are many different kind of whole grain brown rice; short grain, medium grain, long grain, sweet brown rice, basmati brown rice… the list goes on!

In Japan, people primarily ate brown rice until the Edo Period 350 years ago. At this time white rice took over in popularity with the invention of sushi, which uses white rice. Studies have shown that the shift in diet may have been a contributing factor to certain health problems in Japan around that time, in particular to a condition called BeriBeri which is caused by a deficiency of Vitamin B; a nutrient which is available in brown but not white rice.

The cooking and eating of brown rice is a fundamental pilar of Japanese wholefoods and macrobiotic cooking. It provides a grounding energy, and can be enjoyed either as a plain and simple dish, or become a base for endless variation!

Mutsuko Johnson has been eating brown rice more than 40 years – and cooking it for her family. She is passionate about the grounding energy it provides, and the difference it can make to ones health.

Here, Mutsuko shares her instructions for how to create this essential dish. If you have one, it is best to use a pressure cooker as it brings out the natural sweetness of the rice, but if not a heavy bottomed pan with a good lid is fine.


  • 1 and 1/2 cups short grain brown rice
  • 3 cups water (for very soft rice, reduce slightly if you prefer the rice to be firmer). Either spring water or filtered water is best if you can
  • Pinch of sea salt


  • Place the brown rice in pressure cooker or a heavy bottomed pan.
  • In the pot, wash the rice in some water. Swill the rice well in the water using your hand (like kneading bread, put your energy into it). This encourages the dust to come off the grain.
  • Rinse the rice 4-5 times, and then leave it in water to soak for 3-4 hours or overnight. Soaking the rice in water removes the phytic acid in the grain which has come from the soil, and makes it much more digestible to eat.

  • Drain the water from the rice into a measuring jug, using a colander. Measure how much water is discarded.
  • Rinse the rice one more time, then add fresh water back in, using the same amount that you drained away.
  • Add pinch of sea salt to the pot and close the lid.
  • Put on the heat, using a large flame until pressure is up/the water is boiling hard in the pan (steam will be coming out either side of the lid).
  • Once you reach pressure/boiling, turn the flame right down. If you have one, use flame defuser underneath the presser cooker/pan.
  • Cook for 45 minutes, and then turn off the flame and leave the pressure cooker/pot to stand.
  • Once pressure has gone down, open the lid. If you are using a regular pot it is nice to leave it to stand for a while anyway, as this will allow the rice and steam to settle.
  • Using a rice paddle or wooden spoon, fold in rice at the bottom of the pressure cooker, just enough so that the rice is even, but do not mix too much.
  • If you have one, the best way to serve (and store) cooked brown rice in wooden bowl.
  • Serve with a garnish such as toasted sesame seeds, furikake condiment or some side dishes if you wish.
  • Enjoy! Itadakimasu!

For the opportunity to learn to cook brown rice and much more with Mustuko in person, join us for the Japanese Autumn Cooking Intensive, taking place at our centre in London from 13 – 19 October.

To read more details about the Japanese Cooking Intensive and register online click here.


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