The unsung hero of the Korean table: Purple Rice!
No matter what is served, rice makes everything taste better. The unspoken hero of the Korean table — a steaming bowl of perfectly cooked rice is underrated simplicity at its best.
And Korean Purple Rice makes the meal even more special.
As easy to cook as regular rice. With added health benefits. And such a pretty purple color!
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 Korean Purple Rice. Sometimes you’ll see a dark, rich, deep purple color. Other times, the shade resembles a light lilac. Either way, the inclusion of black rice makes it feel like a very special treat!
The Korean word for this rice is “Heukmi Bap.” Literally translated “Black Rice,” it’s a catch-all term to describe purple colored rice.
Koreans also use the terms Japgokbap or Boribap to describe heartier, multi-grain versions of this basic purple rice. More nutrient dense and loaded with grains, they tend to be dark purple and nutty tasting.
How do I make Korean Purple Rice at home?
The easiest way to make Korean Purple Rice is to add a little black rice to white rice and cook, as per usual. That’s it!
Another way is to use Black Rice Mix, found at the Korean grocery store. These pre-packaged grain mixes usually include black rice. Simply add to regular white rice for a heartier, multi-grain, beautifully colored purple rice. Add a little bit for a light purple rice. Or add a lot for a darker purple.
Either way, the method is simple:
- Wash rice with cold water
- Soak for 30 minutes
- Cook in the rice cooker (or stovetop)
What kind of Black Rice Mix should I buy?
At the Korean grocery store, you will find a bewildering array of pre-packaged Black Rice Mix. There’s 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. People 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 included in Korean Purple Rice:
- Black Rice. You need a little bit of black rice for that beautiful purple color!
- Brown Rice. The base of many mixed rice blends.
- Sweet Brown Rice (Glutinous Brown Rice). Different from regular brown rice, sweet brown rice 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.
Is Korean Purple Rice healthy?
Black Rice is full of antioxidants and nutrients. Even adding a small scoop will increase the nutritional value of white rice. But to be honest, it’s a very small amount.
To make purple rice 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. A lilac-colored purple rice that’s mostly white rice (left). And a darker, more multi-grain purple rice (right). I’ve included both in the recipe card below.
How do you measure water in the rice pot?
The standard Asian way of measuring rice to water ratio is using the finger method or the hand knuckle method.
For the hand knuckle method, place your flattened hand directly into the rice pot. While your hand sits on top of the washed rice, look at the water level. The water level should just come up to your first knuckle.
I don’t know why this method works but it does. It’s eerily accurate!
But if you’d prefer, I’ve also written measurements for exact water amounts in the recipe notes below.
What do I serve with Korean Purple Rice?
Korean purple rice tastes great with pretty much everything. Simply make purple rice instead of the usual white rice!
- For KBBQ, serve alongside Beef Bulgogi or Spicy Pork Belly Bulgogi with lettuce wraps.
- For rice bowls, make it the base of Hwe Dup Bap or Salmon Poke.
- For soups and stews, try with 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!
Korean Purple Rice
- 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 rice pot. Rinse and wash with cold water, making sure to rub and swirl the rice around. The water will be cloudly. Drain (carefully) and repeat until the water runs clear, about 5-6 times.
- Measure the water to rice ratio using the 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.
- Place the rice pot in the rice cooker (do not turn on) and let it soak for 30 minutes.
- Cook rice. 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.
- When the rice has finished cooking, open the rice cooker and mix with a rice paddle. Enjoy!