Make your meal special with Korean Purple Rice. A multi-grain rice that’s as easy to cook as regular white rice. With added health benefits. And such a pretty purple color! A steaming bowl of perfectly cooked Korean rice is underrated simplicity at its best.
What is Korean Purple Rice?
Korean Purple Rice is short-grain white rice that’s cooked with a little black rice. The addition of black rice stains everything to a gorgeous purple hue.
Many Korean restaurants serve variations of Purple Rice. Sometimes you’ll see a dark, rich, deep purple color. Other times, the shade resembles a light lilac. Either way, including black rice makes it feel like a very special treat!
The Korean word, “Heukmi Bap,” literally translates to “Black Rice.” Koreans also use the terms Japgokbap or Boribap to describe heartier, multi-grain versions. They tend to be dark purple and nutty tasting.
To make, add a little black rice to white rice and cook, as per usual. That’s it!
Another way is to add Black Rice Mix, found at the Korean grocery store. These pre-packaged grain mixes include black rice as well as other grains. Koreans add black rice mix for ease and convenience, as well as for creating heartier, multi-grain versions. Depending on the amount added, the color will be light or dark purple.
How to make Korean Multi-Grain Purple Rice:
- Combine white rice and black rice (or black rice mix) into a rice cooker.
- Rinse rice with cold water. Drain and rinse several times.
- Soak for 30 minutes.
- Cook in the rice cooker (or stovetop).
- Short grain white rice. Korean rice is sticky and slightly chewy. The grains stick together and offer a pleasurable, toothsome texture. Short-grain white rice is the essential base to making Korean rice. Popular and readily available short grain varieties: Calrose and Kokuho Rose. Nishiki medium-grain rice also works, although it’s technically considered medium-grain. I do not recommend long-grain rice for this recipe as it will be too fluffy.
- Short Grain Brown Rice. Optional. Add for a darker, more nutrient-dense Purple Rice.
To stain the rice a gorgeous purple hue, add either Black Rice or Black Rice Mix.
- Black Rice. Contains the pigment anthocyanin, which creates a purple color when cooked with white rice. Adds a mildly nutty flavor and chewy texture. Also called Forbidden or Palace rice. Filled with antioxidants and nutrients.
- Black Rice Mix. In Korean grocery stores, they sell black rice mixes — black rice mixed with various other grains. Adds more nutrition and fiber.
What kind of Black Rice Mix should I buy?
You will find a bewildering array of pre-packaged Black Rice Mix at the Korean grocery store. There are packages with quinoa, sprouted grains, 10 grains, 5 grains, beans, etc.! Choose one with grains you enjoy eating.
Sometimes, Koreans make their own mix. That way, you’re not limited to certain grains or certain proportions of grains. Store in a big jar for easy, fast scooping.
Adding a variety of grains increases the nutritional density of rice, while also keeping the texture chewy, hearty, and pleasantly nutty. Some common grains:
- Black Rice. You need a little bit of black rice for that beautiful purple color! Glutinous black rice is ideal but can be hard to find. Short grain or even medium grain works.
- Brown Rice. The base of many mixed blends.
- Sweet Brown Rice (Glutinous Brown Rice). Different from regular brown rice, these grains are shorter, plumper, and slightly sweeter. When cooked, the texture is stickier and chewier than regular brown rice.
- Pressed Barley. Flat and oval-shaped, they look like oatmeal.
- Pearl Barley (Job’s Tears). Round and elongated, these add a soft, chewy texture.
- Dried Beans + Peas. So many different kinds!
- Millet. Tiny little millet grains add a nubby texture.
- Quinoa. The health benefits are plentiful.
- Mung Bean. Adds a little sweetness and extra protein.
- Rinse. Make sure to rinse the rice! Doing so removes the excess starch and improves the texture immensely.
- Soak. Give the rice enough time to soak in the water at room temperature. Doing so will make it pleasantly chewy and al dente. I recommend 30 minutes. But even 10 minutes is good (when you’re in a pinch) and the rice can soak up to 2 hours or even overnight.
Black Rice is full of antioxidants and nutrients. Even adding a small scoop will increase the nutritional value. To make it even healthier and nutritionally dense, add more grains!
- A common proportion is 1/2 white rice + 1/2 Black Rice mix.
In general, I make two kinds of Korean Purple Rice. I’ve included both in the recipe card below.
- A lilac-colored purple rice that’s mostly white rice (left).
- A darker, more multi-grain version (right) that contains more nutrients.
How do you measure water in the rice pot?
The standard Asian way of measuring the rice-to-water ratio is using the finger method or the hand knuckle method.
- Hand-knuckle method: place your flattened hand directly into the rice pot. Look at the water level while your hand sits on top of the washed rice. The water level should just come up to your first knuckle.
- Finger method: place your index (pointer) finger into the rice pot. Stop when your finger touches the rice and rest it gently on top. (Don’t push the finger into the rice!) The water level should reach the first line of your finger.
I don’t know why these methods work but they do. It’s eerily accurate!
But I’ve also written exact measurements in the recipe notes below.
Korean purple rice tastes great with pretty much everything. Serve instead of the usual white rice!
- For KBBQ, serve with lettuce wraps alongside Beef Bulgogi or Spicy Pork Belly Bulgogi.
- For grain bowls, make it the base of Hwe Dup Bap or Salmon Poke.
- For soups and stews, try Soondubu Jjigae or Doenjang Jjigae.
- Or serve alongside other banchan (side dishes), like Dubu Jorim or Soy Sauce Quail Eggs.
If you love rice, make this your standard rice recipe instead!
More easy recipes:
Korean Purple Rice (Heukmi Bap)
- Rice Cooker
Light Purple Rice:
- 3 cups short grain white rice
- 1/4 cup black rice blend
Dark Multi-Grain Purple Rice:
- 1 cup short grain white rice
- 1 cup short grain brown rice (also called sweet brown rice)
- 1 cup black rice blend
- Add rice to the cooking pot. Measure and add white rice and black rice (or black rice blend) to the cooking pot.
- Rinse with water. Add cold water until it's completely submerged with 2-3 inches of liquid. Rinse and wash the rice, making sure to rub and swirl the rice well. The water will be cloudy. Drain (carefully) and repeat until the water runs clear, about 5-6 times.
- Add water. To measure the water, use measuring cups or the Hand knuckle method.
- Hand Knuckle method: place your hand flat into the rice pot. While your hand rests on top of the washed rice, look at the water level. The water should just come up to your first knuckle.
- Measuring cup method: Drain rice well and add 3 1/4 cup cold water.
- Soak. Place the pot in the rice cooker (do not turn on) and let it soak for 30 minutes.
- Cook. Press the "white rice" or "quick start" function for Light Purple Rice. Press "multi-grain" or "brown rice" function for the Dark Multi-Grain Purple Rice.
- Serve. When the rice has finished cooking, open the rice cooker and mix with a rice paddle. Enjoy!
- Soak. Give the rice enough time to soak in the water at room temperature. Doing so will make the rice pleasantly chewy and al dente. I recommend 30 minutes. But even 10 minutes is good (when you’re in a pinch) and the rice can soak up to 2 hours or even overnight when there’s a lot of brown rice added.
- Rinse. Make sure to rinse the rice! Doing so removes the excess starch and improves the texture.