Hi! This is Kawamura, your “5-star rice meister.” Through this “rice column” , I wish to present to you, on a regular basis, interesting information such as “the history of rice”, “how to cook delicious rice” and “recommendations of the best tasting rice”.
Firstly, let me explain what a “rice meister” is.
As you all know, “meister” is the German word for “great master.”
“rice meister” is the equivalent of a PhD with expertise in rice who is accredited by the Japan Rice Retail Association.
In order to deliver the deliciousness and goodness of a healthy diet centered on rice to dining tables across the nation, we search around the country for the best tasting rice, research on techniques to cook rice, and make use of such knowledge to develop products, all under the mission of passing on this wisdom to future generations.
Now, let me start with a little bit of trivia about rice.
Rice is said to have been introduced to Japan about 3,000 years ago during the Jomon period.
The rice, which was first brought to Kyushu, eventually spread from Kinki (western Japan) to Kanto (eastern Japan) to Tohoku (northeastern Japan).
As Japan’s mild and rainy climate was perfect for growing rice, it quickly became a widely produced crop across the country.
As yearly harvests of rice are relatively stable and the crop can be stored for a long time, even in the circumstances of a poor harvest, people were able to survive on what had been kept in storage.
Furthermore, the taste of rice matched Japanese people’s palates, thus making it the staple food for Japanese people.
Meanwhile, there are a few points to bear in mind for those who would like to enjoy tasty rice. Let me share with you two of the most important tips.
First, use fresh rice; second, pick the right “water.”
The white rice that is most commonly consumed has been milled from brown rice to remove the husk and bran layers.
Rice loses its freshness drastically from the instant it is milled.
This is because milled white rice oxidizes much more rapidly than brown rice.
As oxidation progresses, the rice loses its fluffiness and stickiness, as well as its taste.
How then can we maintain the freshness of rice?
It is recommended that rice be kept in a place that is cool, with low humidity, and good air ventilation -- such as the refrigerator -- and in a sealed container -- such PET bottles.
The second point -- “water” -- is also very important.
As cooked rice involves only rice grains and water, the quality those two ingredients themselves is crucial.
What I want to mention here is to please use “soft water” as well as to make sure to use the correct amount of water and soak the rice for the appropriate length of time to ensure that it is in the right condition for cooking.
“Soft water” with low degree of hardness is suitable for cooking rice. As tap water in the regions where you live is not suitable for Japanese rice, it is recommended that you use mineral water that is “soft water” to cook the rice.
The amount of water and the length of time for soaking the rice in water in advance are also important points when cooking rice.
The amount of water and length of soaking time differs depending on the amount of rice being cooked, so please make sure you check the instructions upon purchase.
Bearing the above in mind, I hope you too will enjoy the tasty rice from Oishii Japan!
Until next time. Bon appetit!