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Types of Japanese rice


torakris
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Can any of the Japanese-style American short-grain rices be used as sushi rice? Are there particular brands available in US Asian markets that are superior for this purpose?

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Can any of the Japanese-style American short-grain rices be used as sushi rice? Are there particular brands available in US Asian markets that are superior for this purpose?

Only in the US have I seen bags of rice marked as sushi rice, this is not a designation you will see on bags in Japan. What you will want is a short grain rice, most of the American grown Japanese style rices are medium grain.

What kind of sushi are you wanting to make? For something like chirashizushi it won't really make a difference. I have never tried to make nigiri sushi (the one most people think of when they say sushi) so I am not sure how well a medium grain would work. In the US I use Nishiki and have never had problems with my maki (rolls) or temaki (hand rolls).

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I think any of the short grain (California) brands are a good choice if you are looking for an authentic, Japanese-style rice.

I would personally avoid any medium grain rice (Kokuho Rose) or medium-short blend (Tamaki Classic).

Malawry, see the post above.

The California short grain rices I am familiar with are Hitomebore and Tamaki Gold. (I prefer the former.) Others that I have heard about but have not tried are Tamanishiki and the Akita Otome that Jeniac mentioned. These are all premium rices and more expensive than the Kokuho Rose or Tamaki Classic. Not all Japanese restaurants bother to use a premium short grain rice.

I beg to differ on one point that Torakris mentioned. Unless you're boiling the rice into a porridge, the type of rice you choose will make a difference. Medium grain rices (notably Kokuho Rose) tend not to have the bite that premium short grain rices do.

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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I plan to make maki and nigiri. I like chirashi sushi but am not as interested in making it as I am the others.

Thanks for the tips.

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  • 3 months later...

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:

Me too...

My parents are big fans of the Kokuho "True Koda Varietal" and YES, YES, YES there is a big difference between the Nomura Pink label. Parents didn't mind that variety either, but then again, as post WWII teens, they learned not to be picky about food in general. I know I said it somewhere else, but to them Spam donburi is a good thing :smile: . River Rice (an American medium grain variety that is used in more southern dishes like jambalayas and etoufees) is the rice I grew up on and it wasn't until I was in high school that my mom started to get really picky. When I made it to college, that's when her local asian grocer started to carry the Koda Farms varietal on a very limited basis. It was very popular and the grocer had to limit each customer to 11, 20lb bags. Its hard to imagine, but this was a hardship for some folks :biggrin:

Thanks SuzySushi for mentioning the Kumai Harvest rice. I was a bit turned-off by the marketing pitch, but nonetheless, I had to find me some and find out just how ignorant I am about good rice :biggrin: I'll be trying it out tonight and cross your fingers that I don't mess it up.

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Alas, the packaging tells me little about where this product comes from - just that it is a product of Japan, fancy culinary people like it and that they spent a lot of money on its packaging.

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No indication of "shin mai", "ko mai" -- just that it is expensive. I spent the same amount for 3 pounds that I would normally spend on a 20 pound bag. But if its good, then, as Hiroyuki says, its like a fine wine that needs to be enjoyed as a special treat. Nishiki is fine for every day eating.

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And, what are you going to do with it?? :shock: I would eat it with some pickle or something and then make onigiri with salt only. I think that's the best way to appreciate the flavor of Koshihikari.

In Japan, a shinmai (新米 in Kanji) label is affixed to a bag only around this time of year to clearly differentiate it from komai. Afterwards, all rice sold is shinmai unless specified as komai, until the next havest season.

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And, what are you going to do with it?? :shock:  I would eat it with some pickle or something and then make onigiri with salt only.  I think that's the best way to appreciate the flavor of Koshihikari.

:biggrin: Don't worry. I decided not to make it for dinner because I wanted to enjoy it as simply as possible. Shio onigiri sounds like a good idea.

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This is the kome bitsu (rice stocker) to store rice in my house.

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I must admit it's one of the cheapest plastic rice stocker. There are fancy, more expensive rice stockers made of paulownia these days, and my mother used a tin stocker when I was little.

This is a bag of Koshiibuki rice. You can see the word 新米 (new rice or new crop) printed at the upper left corner and another on the sticker in the middle.

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I highly recommend Koshiibuki because it's as good as Koshihikari and is cheaper. But as Helen once pointed out, it may be hard to come by outside of Niigata.

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...and now I am a believer

Woke up on the early side and decided that I'd make "salty-rice" (that's what we called the shio onigiri when I was little) for my husband's lunch.

I cooked as per the machine's instructions instead of the packager's instructions. It might have been a gamble, but I've had great luck with the machine: not so much with the Williams-Sonoma food products. I should mention that Williams Sonoma is the exclusive retail seller of this rice. You can only get it by either calling them or going into a local retailer because it is not available through catalogue or internet.

My initial reaction when I first opened the rice cooker is that it is very "pretty" rice. The WS sales pitch is quite true: "...treasured for its luster, opalescence..." My camera can't quite catch the iridescent colors but they were there.

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As I stirred the rice, I felt that it was quite light - less dense than the usual rice I cooked. Since it is a short-grain, it was stickier, but as I took the first bite, it wasn't gooey or gummy and it had the "al dente" bite. I will confess that at first bite, I thought ...it's okay, but I don't think its worth 8 bucks a pound! :angry: but then again, the rice was still very hot. I went ahead and started to make onigiri.

I waitied a few hours before eating one of the onigiri - glad I did. While I can't say I could tell a difference in taste, the mouthfeel was really, really, really good (I'm trying to avoid using the word 'heavenly' :biggrin: ) and the onigiri itself was so light. Onigiri made with my everyday Nishiki are "betont", lead-balloons, boat anchors by comparison.

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I'm at a disadvantage because of the unavailability of many of the recommended California brands and Japanese imports in my area. I can mail-order them, but the shipping costs will kill me. I would buy this rice again for special occasions but I would reserve it for guests who really like rice by itself - not as a side dish and not as a part of maki sushi.

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Cheeko:

I'm glad that you seemed to like it despite its exorbitant price. As local people here often say, you can tell good rice when it cools. But "al dente"? :blink: It may have been due to less water than necessary.

You are such a great onigiri maker! I can't make such beautifully shaped, triangular onigiri. My wife is as good as you are, though.

Now I'm interested to hear what your husband has to say about the onigiri, expecially its price. :biggrin:

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Cheeko:

I'm glad that you seemed to like it despite its exorbitant price.  As local people here often say, you can tell good rice when it cools.  But "al dente"? :blink:  It may have been due to less water than necessary.

You are such a great onigiri maker!  I can't make such beautifully shaped, triangular onigiri.  My wife is as good as you are, though.

Now I'm interested to hear what your husband has to say about the onigiri, expecially its price. :biggrin:

I use the word "al dente" in this case to describe rice that isn't mushy -- I don't mean to say it had actual chewiness like udon. For instance, a lot of sushi places that I have gone to here make rice that is, in my opinion, too soft and mushy. I could use it as glue for paper crafts right there at the table - I haven't, but you get the idea.

I can't take credit for the shape -- I used a mold :unsure:

My husband doesn't have to worry about price - my experiment so it comes out of my pocketbook. However, his reaction was more typical of new rice-converts. He really didn't notice a difference until I cooked regular rice for dinner. He immediately noticed the difference...and proceeded on with dinner, leaving more than half a bowl of uneaten rice. He said he was really full :raz: Have I created a monster?

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Thanks for reporting back! I'm glad to hear it was great.

I know what you mean about mushy rice - and I feel that rice is generally cooked softer these days than when I first came to Japan.

Because I buy cheap rice, I often add a certain proportion of Milky Queen (a type of short-grain rice which is "not-quite mochi") when cooking for onigiri or bento - it doesn't get so hard when cold.

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I know what you mean about mushy rice - and I feel that rice is generally cooked softer these days than when I first came to Japan.

I'm surprised to hear that -- I just thought it was something that a lot of restaurants did here to "suit the American palate."

I sent some of this morning's onigiri (via my husband) to a coworker who was appreciative, but unwittingly placed them in the refridgerator. When he told me about this, I groaned. Hubby didn't know that that was a bad thing to do with such well-bred onigiris. I hope they survived the few hours and I hope she didn't put them in the microwave...

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I know what you mean about mushy rice - and I feel that rice is generally cooked softer these days than when I first came to Japan.

I'm surprised to hear that -- I just thought it was something that a lot of restaurants did here to "suit the American palate."

I sent some of this morning's onigiri (via my husband) to a coworker who was appreciative, but unwittingly placed them in the refridgerator. When he told me about this, I groaned. Hubby didn't know that that was a bad thing to do with such well-bred onigiris. I hope they survived the few hours and I hope she didn't put them in the microwave...

Don't worry, Cheeko. Hot or cool, good rice will be always good, but it won't be good when chilled. If the onigiri were put in the fridge, they should be reheated in a microwave before eaten.

I can't confirm Helen's comments about mushy rice. Does Helen think so because electric rice cookers have become more sophisticated?

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Helen's post reminded me of how my mother used to cook rice before the advent of electric rice cookers. She used to use an aluminum "bunka nabe" (lit. culture pot). If I remember correctly, she once used a gas rice cooker, but returned to her bunka nabe, and continued to use it until the late 1970, when I finally bought her an electric cooker. I remember we were surprised at how the flavor of rice enhanced when it was cooked in the electric cooker.

For those who don't know what a bunka nabe looks like, here is a link:

http://www.furaipan.com/shouhin/13arumi/bu...uraipan228.html

Because of the special shape of the rim of the pot, water won't boil over.

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People overseas may not be familiar with this, but rice is classified as below according to how it is milled.

Genmai 玄米, unmilled, brown rice

san-bu zuki 三分づき, milled until 30% of the bran is removed

go-bu zuki 五分づき, milled until 50% of the bran is removed

shichi-bu zuki 七分づき, milled until 70% of the bran is removed

haku mai 白米, white rice

haiga mai 胚芽米, milled, but germ intact

I have had all of them before, except san-bu zuki, and I think haku mai is the best. Have any of you had any of these??

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  • 3 weeks later...

My favorite online store was selling Californian Hitomebore (shinmai) at a good price. I decided that the shipping costs were worth the chance to try this love-at-first-sight rice. My mother had seen it at her local Asian Grocer and she said she was curious but thought the name was too stupid to buy :biggrin: -- that's mom for you. Anyway, her grocer had told her he liked it better than the Koda varietal and she was thrilled to hear that I'd be trying it as soon as it was shipped.

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Initially I had a few worries - there seemed to be a large percentage of broken and chalky grains. Is this characteristic for shinmai? Another drawback of the world of mail order. I used the rice for my first attempt at kuri gohan since Hitomebore is reputed to be close to glutinous rice in its texture.

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My mother might think its a stupid, corny name, but I have to admit it did cook up rather nicely. Unlike the pearl-like Koshi Hikari, this rice looked almost transparent when I first opened up the rice cooker. It was stickier than the Koshi Hikari but it was just as light/fluffy and not mushy at all. Once it cooled down, again, it showed its true beauty :wub: The bite was perfect. I can understand why this rice is considered perfect for onigiri and sushi.

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Initially I had a few worries - there seemed to be a large percentage of broken and chalky grains.  Is this characteristic for shinmai?

I don't think so. Such a high percentage of defective rice grains would be intolerable in present Japan, where high-performance sorters are used at rice mills. The chalky parts of grains seem due to high temperature during grain filling (kouon toujuku in Japanese), but I don't know much about it.

Did you know that Hitomebore is a cross between Koshihikari and Hatsuboshi (First Star)? This information may make your mother want to buy it. :biggrin:

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Initially I had a few worries - there seemed to be a large percentage of broken and chalky grains.  Is this characteristic for shinmai?

I don't think so. Such a high percentage of defective rice grains would be intolerable in present Japan, where high-performance sorters are used at rice mills. The chalky parts of grains seem due to high temperature during grain filling (kouon toujuku in Japanese), but I don't know much about it.

Did you know that Hitomebore is a cross between Koshihikari and Hatsuboshi (First Star)? This information may make your mother want to buy it. :biggrin:

Your post made me wonder if the unusually hot conditions in California this summer might also have something to do with these white grains - then I found this strange little abstract on google. Hitomebore was considered to be moderately sensitive to heat, and its 1/2 parent Hatsuboshi was considered sensitive. I recall, it was a record-breaking hot summer in California.

Mom is going to buy the rice after the enthusiastic thumbs-up from me. I warned her about the number of white and broken kernels, but I told her in the end, it still looked and tasted great. I'd tell her about its parentage, but my parents left Japan a few years before Koshi Hikari even became known. Varietal names wouldn't mean much to her. However, she is a big "rice-snob" so the actual product speaks for itself. It's actually a lot of fun for me to try these rice varieties (when I can find them and afford them) and then recommend them to her -- especially when a simple 'name' sets her off like hitomebore :rolleyes:

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  • 2 weeks later...

DID YOU KNOW THAT:

The annual per capita rice production stands at about 60 kg. This is in great contrast to the Edo Period, when a man was supposed to eat 150 kg (ik-koku 一石 or one koku) of rice in a year. The rice paddy area needed to produce one koku of rice was it-tan 一反 (one tan), which is approximately 1,000 m2. Due to advances in agriculture, 420 to 500 kg of rice can be harvested from the same area today.

One more thing: Ichi-gou 一合 or one gou (= 180 ml) of rice was the amount of rice that a man was supposed to have in one meal. The rice paddy area needed to produce one gou of rice was hito tsubo 一坪 one tsubo (3.3 m2), which is equivalent to two 6-foot square tatami mats.

Interesting?

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One more thing:  Ichi-gou or one gou (= 180 ml) of rice was the amount of rice that a man was supposed to have in one meal. 

Interesting?

:blink: That's a lot of rice for one meal...at least for me.

Once again, my favorite seller was offering a special deal on some shin mai. I tried a Californian koshihikari from the same distributor as the hitomebore.

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I don't know if it comes from the same producer, but the grains were much more consistent.

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It cooked up very nicely - light, fluffy, but not as good as the expensive Kumai Harvest. In hindsight, I feel much better for having splurged on that stuff.

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I think I am starting to appreciate the differences in the rice varietals :smile: I've used this Cali koshihikari for plain rice as well as takikomi gohan, but think it does best plain. The hitomebore is good plain, but really did well with the kuri gohan.

Next rice to try (once we've eaten our way through the recent purchases) - akitaotome!

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However, she is a big "rice-snob"

I've been VERY curious about this particular comment of yours. What variety or brand of rice does your mother usually buy then..., in the United States??

Snob was probably the wrong word since she is interested in only one thing - taste. Once she's tasted a rice and she likes it, that's all she needs or wants to know. It doesn't matter if its short grain or medium grain. For instance, she is one of the most brutal judges of local sushi and Japanese restaurants that various family members have taken her to over the years. If they've messed up the rice, its all over. Doesn't matter how nice the meal was presented or how good the tempura was. Mushy rice, the meal is ruined. She's trained my husband quite well in this regard :smile:

As for what she prepares for herself: when it is available, she choses Koda Farms True Varietal. After that, she usuallly buys what her local grocer recommends. He too, recommended the hitomebore and she tried it. Apparently it was a disaster. From what she described (cooked on the sides, raw in the center) I told her she needs to get a new rice cooker but the "damage" may already be done :biggrin: I'm happy to report she did purchase a new cooker, but I think I need to prod her into trying the hitomebore again.

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Hajimemashite. "Kaitenzushi" to mooshimasuga.

Q1. Are there any persons who are reliably able to tell the difference between koshihikari grown in Japan and koshihikari grown in California in blind taste tests (shinmai in both cases)?

Q2. Can the average Japanese person do this?

Doozo yorishiku.

Edited by Kaitenzushi (log)
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Hajimemashite. "Kaitenzushi" to mooshimasuga.

Q1. Are there any persons who are reliably able to tell the difference between koshihikari grown in Japan and koshihikari grown in California in blind taste tests (shinmai in both cases)?

Q2. Can the average Japanese person do this?

Doozo yorishiku.

First of all, have you checked out this post by Fat Guy on page 1 of this thread?

It's impossible to answer your questions because they are hypothetical; there are hardly any Japanese who have tasted the Koshihikari rice grown in California. I guess that rice sommeliers should be capable of telling the difference because they can tell the difference between rices grown in different parts of Japan.

As for your second question, that depends on how you define the average Japanese person. Some are not particular about the taste of rice and are satisified with the cheapest rice, while others are particular about it and buy specific brands. The latter may be able to tell the difference.

I think I can tell the difference between domestic and foreign rices, but again, I can never be sure because I have never tasted the latter.

Anyone?

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