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Looking for fresh steaming Korean instant rice that can be ready in minutes? With all the different products for Korean instant rice, I’ve compiled the top 10 best Korean instant rice available today.
Let’s face it. Sometimes, life is just too busy and we forget to cook rice for dinner. Or perhaps, we just need a cup of cooked rice on the fly and not necessarily a whole pot. Regardless of your needs, it can be daunting to figure out which brand of pre cooked rice is the best fit for you.
I gathered a team of rice fanatics (focus group) to do a blind taste test on the top ten precooked rice on the market. We ranked each brand of rice based on flavor, texture, and overall experience. To ensure that each brand is ranked fairly, not only were they tasted blindly, they were taste tested separately from other people.
For those that may not know what is Korean instant rice, please continue reading below to learn more about this wonderful phenomenon. You can always use the table of contents to skip to the top ten Korean microwave rice bowl ratings.
WHAT IS KOREAN INSTANT RICE
Rice in korean is 밥 (bap) and Korean instant rice in Korean is 인스턴트 밥 (instant rice).
Rice in Korea is just as cultural as kimchi. In fact, I believe it was Korea that catapulted the popularity of instant rice. Korean instant rice is a conveniently packaged precooked bowl of rice that can be made in minutes in the microwave. There are many types of precooked rice such as, white rice, brown rice, purple rice, multigrain rice, and so much more. The idea is being able to enjoy hot fresh rice within a couple short minutes rather than waiting for an hour just for a fresh pot of rice.
Is Korean Instant Rice Healthy?
Korean instant rice is as healthy as regular rice. According to the Whole Grains Rice Council, instant rice provides a full serving of whole grains and receives their stamp of approval (SOURCE).
Some may say that the plastic may not be safe, but Instant rice comes in a plastic that is microwavable safe with a peelable plastic seal.
HISTORY OF KOREAN MICROWAVE RICE
One of the first Korean instant rice brands is called Haetban. Haetban was launched in December 1996 as a non-perishable item to help in the case of an emergency. Since then, we have seen the instant rice market explode from $24 million in 2002 to $438 million in 2017 (SOURCE).
Since its inception, I have personally seen over 20 different brands of instant rice on the market from American, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and several other countries. The common denominator of all the instant rice is that it is ready within minutes from the use of a microwave.
HOW TO COOK MICROWAVE RICE
All microwavable instant rice requires the plastic seal to be partially opened for ventilation while cooking in the microwave. Nothing harmful happens if you don’t allow the steam to vent out, but you may not get the same texture and flavor. How to heat up Korean instant rice? Simply place the instant rice in the center of the microwave with the slightly opened seal for the directed amount of time and power wattage.
How Long To Microwave Korean Instant Rice?
Not all instant rice requires the same amount of cook time or the same microwave wattage power. Depending on the type of rice (white, mixed, brown, etc..), how much it was precooked, and the packaging, the actual microwave cook time and wattage will vary from brand to brand.
How To Cook Korean Instant Rice Without Microwave?
Cooking instant rice on the stove top is not my preferred method as you are still cooking the rice in plastic. However, it is very easy and takes just a few more minutes than it would in the microwave. Simply fill a small saucepan with water just enough to cover the bottom of the pan (about an inch of water). Bring it to a boil and place the instant rice (with the seal slightly opened) in the saucepan. Cover the saucepan and let it steam for about 4-5 minutes or until the rice is fully warm. Peel the seal completely and enjoy.
How Do You Store Cooked Rice?
After allowing the rice to cool to room temperature, I either put it in the fridge or freezer. When I know I will use the rice within a few days, I usually put it in the fridge in an airtight glass container. However, when I want to store rice for several weeks, I will put it in a freezer safe bag (or container) and reheat it when I need it again. I use this method not only for Korean instant rice but for purple rice, brown rice, and pretty much every kind of rice that I have leftover.
BEST KOREAN INSTANT RICE
Many of the Korean instant rice calories were very similar ranging from 300-350 calories per container. To help with providing the nutritional content, I’ve taken pictures of each product that was tested below.
9.5/10: Dong Won – Mixed Rice
Overall this won the best instant rice award. Flavor and texture is perfect. Even though this rice has a mixture of various types of multigrain, it is the best overall rice from the bunch. The soft pop from each grain of barley packs a beautiful nutty flavor. Unlike all the other instant rice, this one isn’t too wet or too dry making it perfect for pairing all kinds of rice dishes.
9/10: Dong Won – White Rice
This steamed white rice is the best overall instant white rice. Soft texture with a very light bite – just the way rice should be. With the perfect glisten in the rice, the aroma of fresh rice fills the room. One reviewer noted that it tasted just like traditionally cooked rice from a pressure cooker.
8/10: Hetbahn – White Rice
The texture of this quick rice is there but has traces of unwanted tang, which is like a vinegar preservative to keep the rice from going bad. If you can get past the slight preservative flavor, the rice tastes sweet and has is perfectly al dente
7.5/10: Ottogi – Black Rice
Most instant rice packaging will have a little bit of preservative to help keep it from going bad. Most of the taste testers started to give other brands of rice a lower rating when they were able to taste more of the vinegary “tangy” preservative taste. Ottogi Black had a slightly softer texture and lacked slightly in flavor due to the tang. However, once the rice cooled for a few minutes from the microwave, testers noticed that the vinegary flavor dissolved and the rice tasted fantastic.
7.0/10: Ottogi – Brown Rice
The texture is a little more wet but not too bad overall because the flavor was still there. However, ottogi cooked rice may be appealing for those who are looking for a healthier instant rice option as it is made with brown rice.
6.0/10: Nishiki – White Rice
The flavor is great if you are looking to use this particular instant rice for sushi – sweet and tangy. However, the texture was wet and not the most appealing when pairing with other rice dishes such as yubuchobap.
5.5/10: Nishiki – Brown Rice
Most taste testers agreed that this instant rice had less of the preservative flavor however the grains were broken and too mushy in texture.
5.0/10: Tamaki Gold – White Rice
Technically, this is not Korean rice. However, this and a few other brands can be easily found in Asian supermarkets and we wanted to see how our taste testers would react. The cooked white rice flavor doesn’t have too much of the vinegary like tang but the texture of the rice is almost crunchy as if it didn’t have enough moisture to heat up the rice properly. In other words, the rice was crumbly.
5.0/10: Hetbahn – Brown Rice
The texture of this Korean instant rice bowl was okay with a bit of a bite. However the flavor was not sweet nor was it nutty. Overall, the taste of the preservative still remained even after the hot cooked rice cooled down for a few minutes. Though this rice wasn’t crumbly, it lacked flavor and just tasted too starchy.
4.0/10: Tamanishiki – White Rice
Overall this was the least favored cooked white rice amongst the focus group. Most said that they could taste the preservatives and the rice was too wet – as if it was a dry porridge. It appeared not to be the most popular as a Korean instant rice meal. However, this would be a great option if you are looking to create Korean instant rice porridge.
I love exploring new foods as well as finding the best. I hope that this review was helpful and insightful.
If you like Asian rice, you will love traditional Korean Purple Rice.
If you would like me to test or try other Asian inspired foods, please let me know in the comment section below.