Since You Grill Basically Everything Else, Grill Your Rice, Too

Julia Bainbridge
Food Editor
May 28, 2014

For two weeks, we’ve got top chefs sharing their little-known tricks for backyard cooking.

Photo credit: © StockFood / Greg Rannells Photography

It’s actually very traditional in Japanese cooking. “We grill rice in order to have a nice crust and toasted rice flavor,” says Kuniko Yagi, chef at Hinoki & the Bird in Los Angeles. Plus, it’s a good way to use leftovers.

Yagi says to form the rice into burger patty-sized discs the same night you cook it. Then, immediately wrap each patty individually and freeze them; they’ll last for up to a month. “This way whenever you feel like you don’t have time to cook, you have rice in the freezer already,” says Yagi. “It’s perfect.”

A few musts, here:

1. You must use sushi rice, which has the highest starch content. ”Basmati and jasmine, they are not going to be able to hold their shape,” says Yagi.

2. You must pack the rice tight, so it doesn’t break on the grill.

3. You must use a big handful of rice. “Make it bigger rather than smaller because it will break otherwise,” says Yagi. It should be about an inch and a a half thick and the size of a burger patty, but a hearty one. “Not like a thin, In-N-Out patty,” she says, chuckling.

When it comes to cooking, first defrost your rice patty in the microwave for about two minutes. Spray the patty with grapeseed oil and grill over medium heat for about three minutes on each each side. “This is a starch, so it’s easy to burn,” says Yagi. “You’ll want to adjust the fire as much as you can to get grill marks without burning the rice. And don’t move the patty too much, otherwise it will break.” And brush on a little soy sauce while it’s grilling. “In the restaurant, we sprinkle dark soy sauce and it caramelizes a bit while you’re grilling.”

Once you get it down, says Yagi, it’s it’s the perfect thing to serve alongside grilled meats. It’s also a treat “in the middle of the night if you’re hungry.” We think she’s talking about drunk food, but she’s too sweet to admit it.