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Types of Japanese rice


torakris
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did anyone see the show a couple nights ago (sorry can't remember the day, time, channel or name... :blink: ) about the mixing of shinmai (new rice 新米) and komai (old rice 古米) in bags of rice marked as 100% shinmai?

First they went to an apartment in Tokyo and gathered about 5 neighbors with 5 different brands of shinmai and placed some of the grains from each bag into separate dishes, they then added two chemicals and the shinmai appears with a red spot on it and the komai has nothing. Like this:

http://earlybirds.ddo.jp/bunseki/order/kit.../comparison.jpg

the bags contained somewhere from about 20% to 60 % komai even though there were all marked as being 100% shinmai. Then they went undercover (with hidden cameras) to various rice shops and asked the owners about it, most ignored the question or gave a no comment response, but one guy just laughed and said something like "of course, you can't possibly put all shinmai in the bag!" The staff then bought a 2kg bag of 100% shinmai rice (after first inquiring with the owner that it was indeed 100%) and took it back to the studio where they did the chemical test on every single grain (about 100,000) and then separated them grain by grain onto large pieces of black paper further separating them into shinmai and komai. I can't remember the exact results but it was something like 40% komai.....

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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That's interesting! I know I've bought "shinmai" which could not possibly have been all new-crop rice, judging from the flavor and the crumbliness of the rice grains. I've given up paying higher prices for new-crop or fashionable brands, because I just don't feel that I'm getting the value that I pay for.

Then the government research institutes and the big companies wonder why Japanese people eat less rice than they used to...!

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  • 2 months later...

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getart...n20041214a1.htm

Rice genome is decoded; now expect new varieties to crop up

From the Japan Times:

Researcher Takuji Sasaki of the National Institute of Agrobiological Science and head of the Japanese team in the international effort, said Monday that scientists from 10 economies completed mapping some 370 million out of 390 million base pairs -- or 95 percent of the genome -- with an accuracy of 99.99 percent.

Analysts say they expect the research to contribute to the identification of useful genetic functions and lead to rapid improvement of crop varieties and an increase in food production.

The results could also be used for production of new varieties of maize and wheat that have similar features in their genetic maps to rice.

I am interested to see what comes of this...

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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On the topic of Japanese rice, is it possible to get the same type of rice in the US? It doesn't neccesarily have to be an import, but is the same grain avaliable?
i believe that japanese rice is grown in several countries other than japan including korea, australia and the us (particularly in california).

if you go to a japanese or a korean market, you will almost certainly find japanese rice there.

edited to add:

also at the higher end japanese and korean markets you will find imported rice from japan.

Edited by melonpan (log)
"Bibimbap shappdy wappdy wap." - Jinmyo
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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 4 months later...
Here is an example of a label, printed at the lower left corner of the rice bag.

In this particular example, the date of milling and the seller are handwritten, which is rare.

 

i6916.jpg

This is a bag of koshiibuki rice that I purchased the other day:

gallery_16375_5_18197.jpg

And, this is the label of that bag:

gallery_16375_5_3736.jpg

A brief description of the label:

名称 精米

Description Milled rice

原料玄米 県内産

Brown rice as raw material Produced within the prefecture

産地 品種 産年 使用割合

Area of production Variey Year of production Percentage

新潟県産こしいぶき 16年度産 100%

Koshiibuki produced in Niigata prefecture 16th year of Heisei (2004) 100%

内容量 10 kg

Content 10 kg

精米年月日 2005.4.29

Date of milling April 29, 2005

販売者 (omitted)

Seller

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Kristen-san and Hiroyuki-san (and the others):

What a wonderful thread and thank you for sharing your insight on Japanese rice!

As soon as I finished my first bowl of rice in Osaka a few years back, I realized that all the so-called "Japanese rice" I had had outside of Japan were pretty much fakes. If it weren't for possible customs restrictions (and the weight!), I would have smuggled a few kilos of the real thing back in my luggage. Real Japanese rice is heavenly, the ultimate staple.

I was under the impression that, due to long-standing national policy, Japan banned the export of rice (and severely restricted the import of the same as well). I was pleasantly surprised to find small -- and thus relatively expensive -- bags of rice that claimed to be produced in Japan, not the US, available here in Vancouver, BC. There are three varieties available now: Komachi from Akita, Hitome from Miyagi and -- I forget the type -- from Chiba. I have tried the Akita one so far and it tastes very different from the US-grown types I used to use, with much shorter grain, and almost as heavenly as the bowls I had in Japan. The color, the sparkles, the texture, the taste... ahhhh!

My question to the experts at hand is, thus, can these exported rice be real? In other words, is there really a ban on export? Another related question is: is rice pretty much a commodity such that, say, one bag of Miyagi Hitome rice is just as good as the next -- or is it more like Burgundy wines, that which are produced ten feet apart can taste vastly different?

Thanks!

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My question to the experts at hand is, thus, can these exported rice be real? In other words, is there really a ban on export? Another related question is: is rice pretty much a commodity such that, say, one bag of Miyagi Hitome rice is just as good as the next -- or is it more like Burgundy wines, that which are produced ten feet apart can taste vastly different?

Thanks!

Thank you for such a wonderful post. I've never expected to hear such favorable comments about Japanese rice.

I don't think there is a ban on the export of Japanese rice; the question is who wants to buy expensive Japanese rice. One webpage says that Japanese rice is exported to Thailand, Malaysia, and Europe. Another says that it is also exported to Taiwan, where it is popular among Japanese living there and the high income group despite the fact that it is three to six times more expensive than local rice.

To your second question, I'd say yes, but not 'vastly different'. The difference is so subtle that you can tell the difference by carefully eating rice only, without any okazu (side dishes).

Here is something I wrote in another thread:

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showto...=0entry584532

In 1992, when I came over to this sleepy little town, everything was new to me. I once had a conversation with a couple of middle-aged local women, and they said, "The rice grown in such and such a place is good, but the rice grown in such and such a place is bad." I was surprised that even in such a small town, good rice was grown in some places and bad rice in others, and these women knew this. I said surprisingly, "Wow, it's just like wine!" They agreed.
Edited by Hiroyuki (log)
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  • 1 month later...

I need some clairification on Japanese and Japanese-style rice.

Calrose is a type of medium grain rice grown in California suitable for use in Japanese cooking, correct?

Titles such as Botan and Shirakiku are brand names of Calrose rice? (A side note, Botan labels their rice as Calrose on the front but referes to the rice as musenmai on the back.)

If so, how come some information sources list Shirakiku rice as a type of rice?

How come Botan's calrose rice tastes COMPLETELY different from Shirakiku's calrose rice? I compared the two, both bags being "new crop" rice. Can the soil and/or milling process really make THAT much differece?

What are the types of rice used in Japan?

Does anyone know of any good and thorough sources of information about the types of Japonica and calrose rice?

-- Jason

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I don't mean to skirt around your question, but is this part of a quest to find the best Japanese (Californian grown) rice available here in North America?

My wife and I usually go with the Hitomebore and Tamaki Gold brands. We did try one bag of the pre-washed (musenmai) rice and it was truly horrible.

There is plenty of information about Japanese rice varieties if you do a quick Google search. One more thing: I believe that the Kokuho Rose and Calrose brands are at the low end in quality, though I can't recall specifically buying Calrose at any time. Yes, there is a difference.

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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Most of the Japanese-style rice sold in the USA is grown in California. California has been producing Japanese-style rice since the times of the Gold Rush!

Most of the rice grown in California is the medium-grain Japonica cultivar, as opposed to the long-grain Indica cultivar. Calrose is a type of Japonica rice that was developed by the University of California-Davis in the 1950s.

Botan, Kokuho Rose, Nishiki, Shirakiku, etc. are brands of rice.

Koshikari rice is a "superpremium" Japonica rice that costs more than standard premium brands -- some brands are grown in California; some are imported from Japan. Tamanishiki and Tamaki Gold are several brands of koshikari rice.

"Musenmai" means the rice doesn't need to be washed before cooking. (In the old days, rice was coated with talc during processing, and needed to be washed before cooking. In the 1950s-1960s, when people realized that talc could contain asbestos, rice mills substituted cornstarch, but the rice still needed washing to remove the excess starch. New musenmai rice is processed using tapioca, which apparently doesn't stick to the milled rice.)

You can read up more about the different varieties of rice at: RICE 101

BTW, my favorite rice is the premium Kokuho Rose True Koda Varietal (pink label), which I wash before cooking. (There is also lower-grade blue-label Kokuho Rose Calrose rice.) I tried several brands of superpremium rice and was not impressed by the difference in flavor or texture.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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yes different brands of rice can taste completely different, even in Japan.

I have bought bags of rice that were so bad that I cooked up as much as possible at once and only used it for fried rice. :hmmm: Unfortunately bad rice makes bad fried rice too.

I haven't found a musenmai that tastes decent, this kind of "no wash" rice is becoming very popular in Japan. In many supermarkets half of the rice available in musenmai and most rice cookers also have a special setting to cook it.

In the US I prefer Nishiki.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I haven't found a musenmai that tastes decent, this kind of "no wash" rice is becoming very popular in Japan.  In many supermarkets half of the rice available in musenmai and most rice cookers also have a special setting to cook it.

I'm glad that I'm not the only one who notices the difference. In our household, we did our own blind test, since I didn't know that my wife had bought a bag of musenmai rice. After eating one mouthful of rice, I turned to her and said, "What's wrong with the rice?" She agreed about the difference.

Same thing happened when my wife bought a bag of pink Kokuho Rose. (Apologies to SuzySushi.) FWIW, we use a relatively recent IH cooker for all our rice, which might be a factor.

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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I can't really claim to prefer musenmai either. Unfortunately, it's becoming the dominant type in the local stores where I live. I might have to trek across town to another store to get my rice if it keeps up or just deal with it. :hmmm:

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Same thing happened when my wife bought a bag of pink Kokuho Rose. (Apologies to SuzySushi.) FWIW, we use a relatively recent IH cooker for all our rice, which might be a factor.

Hmmmnnn... I've been using Kokuho Rose rice for 20+ years! I cook it the old-fashioned way, in a regular saucepan (which might be a factor, too.) :wink:

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Thanks for the info. The Botan brand, which falls into the musenmai category, was the bland one I didn't care for. The Shirakiku brand had a distinct but mild nutty flavour. I'm just going to keep trying different varieties.

-- Jason

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BTW, my favorite rice is the premium Kokuho Rose True Koda Varietal (pink label), which I wash before cooking. (There is also lower-grade blue-label Kokuho Rose Calrose rice.) I tried several brands of superpremium rice and was not impressed by the difference in flavor or texture.

I have the same experience so I'll stick with the kokuho rose.

Although I do feel that there is a difference between the koda label and the nomura label versions. I prefer the koda organic variety but cannot find anything but the nomura pink label now. :sad:

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Interesting, Kokuho Rose(Pink) is labeled as a "medium grain rice." I never even thought about this, since I grew up on Kokuho Rose before the premium brands became widely available. I guess this explains why Kokuho Rose cooks soft, IMO.

http://www.kodafarms.com/products.html#krose

Tamaki Gold is labeled as a Koshihikari "short grain rice":

http://www.tamakimai.com/products.html

Here's an article about a blind taste test between California and Japanese short grain rices. Doesn't say what California brand they used. Maybe I will try to Email the fellow and find out.

http://www.csus.edu/news/020503rice.htm

Also, a link from the California Rice Commission confirming that Calrose is a medium grain rice, distinct from the short grain rice generally preferred by Japanese consumers.

http://www.calrice.org/b6_types.htm

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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  • 1 month later...
I live in California, and tend to bounce between Botan, Kokuho Rose and Nishiki. I find that I still need to rinse the rice to keep it from coming out gummy. I tend to prefer Nishiki, but it's a bit more expensive.

Thanks for this tip. I think it's essential to rinse Nishiki, or it will be grossly starchy.

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Ming Tsai often mentions a particular type of rice as "the best there is". Unfortunately I don't know how to spell it, but if I heard it I'd recognize the name...and he swears by using a rice cooker to make any and all rice....

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I'm very happy when new crop koshihikari rice reaches the markets here in the SF Bay Area during the autumn harvest. I've only seen this rice at Japanese markets and not in regular supermarkets. I know Tamaki Gold sells it but there are other brands as well and I can't say that I have a preference between them.

It's actually kind of fun to buy some small bags of rice, figure out what rice/water ratio works best with each of them, and then make some comparative batches simultaneously. It was educational for me to find that there really are differences that come out in the final product and I can see how people would develop their own preferences.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have found that a lot of the California short grains that claim to not need washing are full of crap and come out of the cooker all slimy if you don't give them a good wash. Plus I think it's good practice to wash it anyway, just to get all the bugs out.

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