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Japanator Eats: What's Japan's best rice?

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Gohan no Showdown

Interested in the tasting the best rice of Japan? Well, you may be disappointed. Unfortunately, the word “best” is an undefined word that people continue to try to define. It can't be defined because it relies on the perception, or taste-buds in this case, of an individual. And I'm sure we're all aware that not everyone views or tastes things in a similar fashion.

Instead, this article will showcase a variety of Japanese rice and hopefully contain the type of rice that you'll deem as being best suited for you. Without further ado, here are some of the varieties of rice in Japan:


Hakumai (white rice) is the staple of Japanese cooking and most popular. While genmai (brown rice) is healthier and more nutritious than white rice, it isn't considered as delicious as hakumai. Japanese rice is also sticky when cooked, though not mushy. However, mochigome (glutinous rice) tends to be stickier than regular Japanese rice and is mostly used to form rice cakes.


Beyond the traditional format of how we view and consume rice, there's a unique form that the Japanese have taken upon, and that's mochi (rice cakes) – rice on a whole new level. It's made by pounding the mochigome into a paste and molding it into whatever shape desired. Typically, it tastes extremely bland and chewy; it's a traditional food widely consumed and served in soups during the week of New Years in Japan.


Thankfully, mochi is also available year round in a variety of ways, including sweets. If you've ever had mitarashi dango, a popular Japanese sweet sold in many convenient stores, grocery shops, and popular hot spots, then you may have eaten rice without even knowing it.


With the continuing rise of mass production, many Japanese continue to opt for fresh ingredients. If the rice was harvested, processed, and packaged beyond that same year, then it cannot be sold and labeled as shinmai (new harvest rice). But what's the difference between shinmai and komai (old rice)?



The grains of shinmai contains more moisture than komai, resulting in an immediate difference in taste. It's like comparing moist chicken to dry chicken; though both well, it's quite a noticeable difference. While a larger percentage of the Japanese enjoy shinmai, many do prefer komai as it's dry and not as sticky. When it comes to fresh rice, moist rice is the freshest form.


The purest way to try shinmai, or any form of rice, is to have a plain bowl of it. However, I typically enjoy adding something to it, may it be nori (seaweed), furikake (dry Japanese seasoning), or salmon.


Because of its nature, shinmai is more expensive than other forms of rice that you can purchase in a shop. This would also apply to various forms of dishes that are made using shinmai, such as onigiri (rice balls). You'll notice that homemade, shinmai onigiri are more expensive than the “same” onigiri found in the convenient store.



The best way to try shinmai and komai for yourself is to point to a rice product (either a pack of rice, onigiri, pre-made rice, mochi, etc.) and ask “Kore wa, shinmai desu ka?”, which translates to “Is this new harvest rice?” Or, have a Japanese friend who can recommend you places that serve either shinmai or komai.


As you can see, there are a variety of styles of rice, including mochi, and they're all pretty good. Currently, one of my personal favorites is onigiri made of komai. It's not too sticky, it's pretty firm, and the nori isn't moist. A common dish is tamago kake gohan (a bowl of rice mixed with a raw egg). It gives the rice a creamy texture and is quite a treat. What type of rice do you prefer, along with your personal favorite rich dishes?


[Photos provided by Myself]

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Lindo Korchi
Lindo KorchiContributor   gamer profile

Osu! I'm Lindo, a writer focused on philosophical thought, travel, & storytelling. I aim to look beyond the lens given to us by our culture, understand new perspectives, and create awesome storie... more + disclosures


 


 



Filed under... #feature #food #japan #Japanator Eats #travel

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