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Understanding Japanese Rice and its Uses

Rice is one of the primary crops grown in Japan. Fields filled with rice crops is the most common view in Japan.  It is regarded as the traditional food that forms part of the Japanese meals and also forms part of the Japanese diet chart.

Refined white rice is the most common rice used in the Japanese household. Rice is also considered as the main soul of the Japanese culture. Any meal without rice is an incomplete meal.

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Varieties and their uses:

There are varieties or different types of rice grown like:

1. White Rice (Also known as Hakumai): This is the basic rice of the country and they are many ways to cook it.  Depending if it is on the stove top or in the rice cooker(learn which one to purchase), the versatility comes into play base on the type of white rice. Apart from its nutritious value, it is rich in its taste and quality. This is also regarded as the polished rice. Plain rice coupled with eggs is usually eaten for breakfast.  White Rice is also used to make various pickles, used in making sushi. Plain rice is also reused as rice with green tea(roasted) or fried rice. 

Popular varieties of White rice (Hakumai) are Koshihikari,Akitakomachi,Hitomebore and Hinohikari. Koshihikari is regarded as the crown jewel in the family of the Japanese Rice. It is grown as a high valued crop in the country. Akitakomachi is similar to koshihikari but comparatively less sticky in its nature. The White Rice is also known as the Japonica Rice.

Terraced Rice Fields in Ishibu by izunavi, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License by izunavi - Terraced Rice Fields in Ishibu

2.  Brown Rice (Also known as Genmai): People with health issues mainly consume the brown rice. Here the germ and the coating of fibres are taken out. Whereas there is also sprouted brown rice from which only the fibrous coating is removed whereas the germ stays untouched. It is also regarded as the unpolished rice.

3.  Multigrain Rice(Zakkokumai):This rice is famous for its multi nutritious value. Multi grain rice is a mixture of plain white rice with black rice, beans,soba, barley etc. Even though it increases the nutritious value still the flavor of the white rice stays unaffected.

4.  Glutinous Rice (Mochigome):  This type of rice is the short grain rice. This rice is usually combined with the other rice. Rice cakes prepared from glutinous rice are especially eaten on the New Year’s Eve.

rice cake / 柏餅 by Kanko*, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License by Kanko* - rice cakes

Pounded Glutinous rice along with the rice flour forms part of the major sweets made in Japan. This rice is used to make the traditional Japanese snacks like Senbei and Mochi.

MOCHI MOCHI捲, 谷八雪精靈, Blanc N by bryan..., on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License by bryan... - ever popular mochi (cake styles)

It is also used in making Sushi. It is the sweet rice.This rice is sticky in nature. These rice delivers soft but noticeable bounce.

Other Uses

Japanese Rice is also used for making Rice Wine, Rice Flour, Rice Bran and Rice Vinegar. These additional food items help in the preparation of the traditional Japanese meals like pickles , sweets , sushi and other snacks The different dishes prepared from the above rice are Rice Balls, Kayu, Donburi , Sushi , Rice Bread , Pickles , sweets etc. The by product that is generated after the polishing process is the rice bran. This Rice bran can be used for rice bran oil, used as a pure organic fertilizer and can also be used to feed the livestock.

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