Easy Korean Purple Rice (Heukmi Bap)

Difficulty Easy

Korean Purple Rice makes the meal extra special. A multi-grain rice that’s as easy to cook as plain white rice. With added health benefits. And such a pretty purple color! A steaming bowl of perfectly cooked Korean rice is simple and delicious.

What is Korean Purple Rice or Heukmi Bap?

Korean Purple Rice, also called Heukmi Bap, is a type of rice in Korean cuisine. It’s often served at Korean restaurants and made in Korean homes. Different from regular white rice, it’s a pretty purple color.

To make, add a little black rice to white rice and cook, as per usual. The black rice stains everything to a gorgeous purple hue. And makes it feel like a special treat!

In Korean, “Heukmi Bap” literally translates to “Black Rice.” It’s a general all-purpose term to describe purple rice. Depending on how much black rice is added, the color varies from dark purple to light lilac.

Black rice is also called Forbidden Rice or Palace Rice. Once considered forbidden to everyone but palace royalty, it’s quite expensive with great health benefits. Rich in antioxidants, fiber, and iron — the flavor is mild and nutty. The dark color comes from anthocyanin — a compound with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.

In a Korean kitchen, home cooks make different variations of Purple Rice. To increase the health benefits, grains such as brown rice, barley, or millet are added. For a heartier, multi-grain Korean Purple Rice recipe, you’ll sometimes see it called Japgokbap or Boribap.

korean purple rice in bowl

Ingredients:

  • White rice. Korean rice is sticky and slightly chewy. The grains stick together and the overall texture is pleasurable and toothsome — not mushy at all. To achieve the perfect texture, use white rice — either short grain rice or medium grain rice. The small grains contain a high amount of amylopectin, which makes the rice sticky. I do not recommend long grain rice — it will be too fluffy and dry.

Popular brands: Calrose, Kokuho Rose, Japonica, Nishiki, or Sekka Select.

  • Black Rice. Also called Forbidden or Palace rice. Or sometimes, black sweet rice or black glutinous rice. Filled with antioxidants and nutrients. You only need a small scoop to color the rice a beautiful purple.

For heartier, multi-grain versions, add:

  • Short Grain Brown Rice. Adds a nutty flavor and chewy texture.
  • Black Rice Mix. Most Korean grocery stores sell black rice mixes — black rice mixed with various other grains. Adds more nutrition and fiber.

How to make Korean Purple Rice:

  1. Combine white rice and black rice. To the inner cooking pot of the rice cooker, measure and add the white rice and black rice. *For the multi-grain version, add the black rice mix and brown rice.
  2. Rinse rice with cold water. Drain and rinse several times, until the water runs clear. Rinsing will remove the excess starch to achieve the right texture (sticky, not gluey).
  3. Soak rice in water. Let the rice soak in cold water for 30 minutes. A simple step that improves the texture, aids digestion, adds nutrition, and speeds up the cooking time (when cooking on the stovetop). Soaking removes the phytic acid, which prevents the absorption of nutrients.
  4. Cook. Press the “START” button on the rice cooker. Or, follow the stovetop directions in the recipe card below.
  5. Serve. When the timer goes off, turn off the rice cooker. Also, turn off the warming function — or the rice will become soft and mushy. *Most rice cookers include a warming function that needs to be manually turned off.* Using a rice spatula, mix around the rice so it’s separated and fluffy. Serve and enjoy!

NOTE: In general, I make two kinds of Korean Purple Rice.

  1. Light Purple Rice (left). Made with mostly white rice and a small scoop of black rice, it’s light purple and mildly flavored.
  2. Dark Multi-Grain Rice (right). A dark purple, multi-grain version of Korean rice. It contains more grains — and therefore more nutrients and fiber. The taste is hearty and nutty with a chewier texture.

*I’ve included ingredient amounts for both in the recipe card below.

PRO Tips:

  • Rinse.  For the best result, make sure to rinse the rice!  Removes the excess starch and improves the texture immensely.
  • Soak.  Give the rice enough time to soak. I recommend 30 minutes.  But even 10 minutes is good when you’re in a pinch. It can soak up to 2 hours or even overnight.
  • Use the rice cooker measuring cup. Many rice cookers come with a clear, plastic measuring cup. Although they are labelled with measurements, I find they do not match with standard measuring cup amounts. If using a rice cooker, I recommend using the included measuring cup for more precise measurements.

What is Black Rice Mix?

Black Rice Mix is a pre-packaged grain mix that can be added to white rice. They are convenient for making an easy Korean Purple Rice recipe at home. Instead of buying several different kinds of grains, you only need to buy 1 package of Black Rice Mix. Look in the rice aisle at Korean grocery stores.

There are many different kinds of Black Rice Mix. They all include different kinds of grains! For example: quinoa, sprouted grains, 10 grains, 5 grains, beans, etc.! Read the label and choose one with grains you enjoy eating.

Sometimes, Koreans make their own Black Rice Mix. That way, you’re not limited to certain grains or proportions of grains. Store in a big jar for easy, fast scooping.

What other grains can be added?

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.

What is the Asian way to measure the rice-to-water ratio?

The standard Asian way of measuring the rice-to-water ratio is using the finger method or the hand knuckle method.

Although you can use exact amounts (I’ve written exact measurements in the recipe card), these methods consistently make good rice:

  • Hand-knuckle method: place your flattened hand directly into the 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 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.

Serve with:

Serve Korean Purple Rice in place of the usual white rice. Some suggestions:

Korean purple rice in rice pot

FAQ:

Is Korean Purple Rice healthy?

Yes, Korean Purple Rice is healthy. 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.

How do I store leftovers?

Leftover rice should be cooled and immediately stored in the fridge. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for 1-2 days. Reheat in the microwave until steaming hot.

More rice recipes:

rice cooker filled with Korean purple rice

Korean Purple Rice (Heukmi Bap)

The Subversive Table | Lis Lam
The unsung hero of the Korean table: Purple Rice! Make your meal special with easy Korean Purple Rice. 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.
4.67 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Soaking Time 30 minutes
Course Rice, Side
Cuisine Korean
Servings 6
Calories 371 kcal

Equipment

  • Rice Cooker
  • or Medium Saucepan or Medium clay pot

Ingredients
  

Light Purple Rice:

  • 3 cups short grain white rice
  • 1/4 cup black rice (or black rice mix)

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 mix

Instructions
 

  • Add rice to the cooking pot. Measure and add white rice and black rice 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 the rice soak in the water for 30 minutes. If you don't have time, even 10 minutes of soaking will be better than not soaking at all.
  • Cook. After 30 minutes, 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. Open the rice cooker and mix with a rice paddle. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

Tips:
  • Soak.  Give the rice enough time to soak in the water at room temperature.  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.
  • Store leftovers.  Leftover rice should be cooled and immediately stored in the fridge. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for 1-2 days. Reheat in the microwave until steaming hot.
 
 
 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 371kcalCarbohydrates: 82gProtein: 7gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.3gSodium: 7mgPotassium: 88mgFiber: 3gSugar: 0.1gCalcium: 12mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Korean, Multi-grain, Purple Rice
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4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Do you have a (1-2 person) rice cooker you would recommend? 🙂

    • Zojirushi has a small 6 cup rice cooker (white one) with a steamer basket for veggies. It’s the old school white kind with one button (on/off). But if you want a multi-functional rice cooker, Zojirushi also has a 3-cup rice cooker that has more functions for brown rice, quinoa, etc.

  2. 4 stars
    Can’t wait to make this!
    Is the nutrition details per cooked cup ?

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