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Rice is one of the most beloved cereals. It is not surprising then that in the past, it was domesticated not once, not twice, but three times, on three different continents.
The rice we eat today comes from the “oryza sativa” species, and its subspecies have given us some of the most popular rices.
On the one hand, we have the indica variety, which has long, fine grains that are drier and looser when cooked. Basmati rice is one of the best known examples.
On the other hand, the japonica variety appeared. Japonica rice varieties are mostly short to medium grained, with very little aroma and a distinctly sticky texture when cooked.
Rice in Japan
Uruchimai (粳米) is the rice consumed in Japan on a daily basis and which forms an essential part of its cuisine. In the West, with the rise of sushi, this type of rice is often found under the name of “sushi rice”.
There are many varieties of rice in Japan (Hitomebore, Akitakomachi, Tsuyahime or Sasanishiki, among others) created to suit the different climates in Japan.
However, the Koshihikari (越光) variety, bred in Fukui prefecture in 1956, is probably the most popular Japanese short-grain rice. It is now grown in several areas of Japan, with Uonuma Koshihikari and Aigamo Koshihikari being the most expensive and renowned.
Nowadays, it is also cultivated outside Japan, such as in Italy and California (USA).
Can I substitute Japanese rice for another variety?
The rice most similar to Japanese rice in Europe is the arborio variety, famous for being rice used in risottos.
Varieties such as basmati rice or jasmine rice, both of which are long grain, are not good substitutes. When cooked, they are looser and the rice does not stick together as with the japonica variety.
How to store rice.
Store the rice in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
Where to buy Japanese rice?
Japanese rice can be found in shops specializing in Japanese and Asian products. Nowadays, it can also be found in some supermarkets.