Kitakami Photoblog

Daily photos from Kitakami, a small town in Northern Japan, and its surroundings.

Friday, March 16, 2007

How to prepare sticky japanese rice

At Lemon's and Pat's yesterday's suggestions, here's a little excursus about rice-cooking in Japan.
Everybody uses a ricecooker (suihanki, 炊飯器; instead of the kanji, the katakana word ライス クッカ (raisu kukka) is also used very often. Above is ours, we got it already used by some friends two years ago (please click on the photos to enlarge). Here you can have a look at the current Mitsubishi collection, more chic.
You just have to fill in the necessary amount of rice and water, push the red button, and half an hour later or so, you have delicious, fresh rice. Which of course may be kept warm as long as you wish. Of course it has a timer function, so can set everything up in the evening and will have hot rice at the hour you wish in the morning, for breakfast. There are several cooking programs you can choose from, according to the rice variety you use (freshly harvested, wholegrain, normal...). In order to get perfect rice, you have to dose the water amount quite exactly, according to the rice variety - but this is facilitated by a scale inside the cooking bowl (photo on the right), which indicates how much water you have to fill in for a specific quantity of any variety of rice.
(I always use the same rice with the same amount of water, about 1,1 part water for 1 part of rice), so I'm actually not an expert).
Japanese rice is very different from rice sold in America or Europe. It is a short grain rice that becomes very sticky when cooked. Otherwise it couldn't been eaten with chopsticks! Most rice is sold as hakumai ("white rice"), with the outer portion of the grains (nuka) polished away. Unpolished rice (gemmai) is considered less delicious by most people, but its popularity has been increasing recently because gemmai is more nutritious and healthier than hakumai.
Japan tries to produce all its rice by its own: This Taipeh Times article quotes a japanese rice merchant as follows "Foreign rice is for foreigners. Japanese people like only Japanese rice."
And if someone interested how rice is grown in Japan, have a look here and here.
PS: And for those understanding french, here is a very nice and detailed post about rice written by a french blogger from Tokyo.


Blogger Liz Feliz said...

Ok, I'm amazed!!

I want one of those!!

1:12 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

THANK YOU SO MUCH! This was so interesting and I'm going to keep a copy of it.

We have these rice cookers here too but I don't know anyone who uses one. But they are in all of the stores.

Again, I really appreciate your post and what a lot of work you did for us!


Pat's Photos and
Guelph Daily Photo

1:31 PM  
Anonymous kris said...

i need a ricecooker! cant find one here :(

9:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yummy - i love rice and i love Japanese food!

6:06 AM  
Blogger Julia said...

Indeed,they are convenient!

@ Pat: You're welcome, that wasn't so much work!

9:37 AM  
Blogger Roberto Allende said...

I feel like a barbarian. :) I use a microwave rice cooker.

1:47 PM  
Blogger Julia said...

I use the rice cooker only to prepare japanese white rice. For "normal" rice, a pot is just perfect.
@ Roberto: I had no idea that microwave rice cookers to exist.

8:45 AM  
Blogger lemon said...

Thank you very, very much for the detailed post!
It was exactelly what I wanted to know and didnt know where to ask!

7:54 AM  
Anonymous richard said...

Hi Julia - interesting info. I've just been listening to a BBC world service series called "Rice Bowl Tales" - you can get it on the BBC internet site, or even from Itunes store as a podcast. The last one was about Japan - some interesting stuff, but probably you have a better local perspective. (My first visit here - I like it)

9:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi, i likedyour blog and very informative..
national rice cookers

5:27 PM  

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