My friends might tell you that I’m a chocolate snob. I don’t think I am, because although my preferred choice of chocolate has a minimum of 64% cacao and no Cadbury will ever pass my lips, I am also quite happy munching a bag of M&M’s, a Mars bar or a box of After Eights 🙂
I am however seriously in danger of becoming a rice snob….
About a year ago I invested in a proper rice cooker, and with proper I mean one of those (imported from Japan) neurologic fuzzy wuzzy technology self thinking cookers which incidentally plays “twinkle twinkle little star” when the rice is ready. The price of this rice cooking wonder was a bit of deep breath, and consequently I still only dare to cook rice in it, but I have to admit, it’s the best kitchen investment ever as it turns out perfectly cooked rice, every single time. Can you be in love with an inanimate object? Because if you can, I’m in love with my rice cooker (^x^).
I also always wash my rice at least 3 times (in a special rice washer bowl) and cook it using filtered water.
But even with this super duper rice machine, if your rice is bad, your meal will taste bad as well, or at least not as good as it could if you would use a superior rice variety.
Now, I don’t know that much about rice. But I do know that I never want to eat brown rice again! Growing up, we only ate this very healthy brown rice, the one which was not only not hulled, it seemed it also wasn’t de-stoned as occasionally we would find all kind of odd bits and pieces in it. It was the super healthy, home knitted socks in sandals variety, so when I left home, I vowed never to eat brown rice again.
Instead I started to eat Basmati, Jasmine and even Arborio (when making risotto). But most of my Asian dishes would still be accompanied by a non sticky rice variety until I ventured into sushi making some years ago and discovered Japonica rice. (If you want to read more about rice varieties: Just Hungry has a great post about different types of rice here).
Nowadays, I mainly eat Japonica rice and am currently trying out different varieties and qualities. A brand that you often see here in the UK is Nishiki, which is a medium grain Japonica-type rice grown in California and is often sold as “sushi” rice. I have tried it but am not a big fan of it as I find it a bit bland. Although you might think that rice needs to be “bland” enough to match your other ingredients, I feel that rice needs to have enough unique taste of itself to be eaten on it’s own, with maybe just a pickle, nori strips or some sesame seeds.
My regular rice of choice is currently a Koshihikari, which is a quite popular Japonica short grain rice, with a slightly sweet taste. The brand I buy is actually grown in California and quite cheap, about £3 per kilo (the brand is called Seoul trading sunshine/moonlight). I buy it in 10 lbs (4.5 kg) bags at the Korean supermarket and store it in an airtight container. But on my last shopping trip they were out of 10lbs bags, they only had the small bags or the huge bags (40 lbs!) so I thought it was time to try out some other brands.
I have now in my cupboard, ready to try out:
- Akitakomachi, which is apparently similar to Koshihikari but less sticky. The brand I have is also Californian grown, the same as my regular Koshihikari, but this is new crop, which is allegedly better. (£4.99 for 2 kg)
- JFC Yumenishiki, European grown Japonica rice as recommended by Just Hungry in this post, and which is a Koshihikari-type rice. It’s slightly more expensive £3.95 per kilo.
- Lastly, I bought some Shinmei Akafuji Koshikari Uonuma, which is grown in Uonuma, an area of Niigata prefecture (Japan) famous for producing high quality koshihikari rice (apparently all due to the pure water). It is also the most expensive, I bought a 2 kilo bag for £14.99, ie 1 kg costs £7.50.
So, over the next months (even though I eat rice almost daily, this stash will last me some time), I am going to try out these rice varieties, eating it plain on its own, as well as in my lunchbox and for dinner. I will update about any shocking (or maybe non shocking) experiences 🙂
Meanwhile, are you a rice snob? Do you use a rice cooker or not? Do you have a preferred rice and why?