Are you a rice snob?


L to R: Akitakomachi (CAL), Uonuma Koshihikari (JP), Yumenishiki (EUR) and Koshihikari (CAL)

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?

rice and rice cooker

Rice stash and (my beloved) rice cooker







46 thoughts on “Are you a rice snob?

  1. I have to say, I might be a little snobby. Haha. I ONLY eat Jasmine rice and its ALWAYS the three elephant brand. That’s only because I was raised eating only that brand. Other brands just don’t taste as good. I also have a rice cooker but nothing fancy like yours! I definitely will consider it though! Great post! Very informative!

  2. Just plain old rice from the supermarket, cooked on a low heat lid on. Usually smothered in curry (such a philistine!) My wife and son have started looking at bento boxes now, all your fault! lol

    • As long as it satisfies your appetite, I’m not the one to accuse you of rice-sacrilege 🙂

      My apologies to having lead your family into the evil claws of bento…it’s addictive…

  3. I lived in Japan for about 5 years and fully understand this post. Here in America since Sushi became popular you can find prepackaged sushi everywhere, convenience stores, grocery stores, and of course fast food restaurants. But the rice in these prepackaged items is horrible! Cooked until it is mush and has a glue-like texture and taste. Americans believe this is Japanese rice. Soooooo sad! Oh! I’ve got to go…. my rice is done!

  4. I love rice! But I guess I’m too lazy to do it the proper way and I just boil rice in a plastic bag xD
    I’m thinking about buying a cooker though, but I’m afraid it’s gonna be pricey..
    Thanks for a visit on my blog, I’m adding you to my favorite blogs :))

    • A rice cooker can be quite expensive (the neuro fuzzy logic ones) but there are different type of cookers on the market and some are quite cheap. I also know people who swear by cooking rice on the hob or in the oven, so I guess one should do what works best for one.

      Personally for me, using the rice cooker is less work than boiling the rice on the hob as I don’t have to watch it all the time, plus with the timer it’s great for planning dinner etc.

      But as I wrote, it all comes down to taste, so the rice itself is more important than what you cook it with.

  5. Yes. I am definitely a rice snob, and I use my rice cooker on almost a daily basis for porridge, rice, fried rice, cakes, so many things! I’ve baked bread, biscuits all sorts of stuff.

    But seriously, rice is an amazing gift, and we should definitely treat ourselves to good rice that’s washed and well seasoned.

  6. While not a rice snob (whatever is cheapest usually wins), I *am* a Japanese food snob. I generally refuse to go out for J-food. I’m always disappointed and know we can make better at home. 😀 But back to rice… I’m curious about the Akitakomachi rice. The Komachi is the name of the Akita shinkansen! 😀 Akita is a major rice producer. The best rice I’ve ever tasted was new rice from my in law’s fields but that was Ibaraki. Yum!

    • Wow, new rice from your in law’s field, that must be amazing. I have never even seen a rice plant in real life..(assume on telly doesn’t count).

      Will let you know about the Akitakomachi rice 🙂

      I love going out for lunch/dinner (and regularly do). Even though I’m a decent cook, I like the whole “let’s choose from the menu, being served, no dishes” concept. But my expectations about the food are always carefully adjusted to the location we’re at….

      • It was! So sweet and a flavor I had never experienced with rice. I have a few posts with up close photos of rice from Hitoshi’s uncle’s farm. They are all under the Rice category. To add to your sort of real life experience! 😀

        I have to ask Hitoshi, too! I’m so curious.

        I used to go out a lot before leaving Canada and Hitoshi and I ate out at least a couple of times a week in Japan. The food is so good and reliable. We’ve only had ONE really bad meal and that was from a character selling ramen in a back alley from his portable stall near our apartment. Since moving to Canada, we have been consistently disappointed with quality. Boo! Then there’s the whole tipping thing… but that’s another topic. Good point about adjusting expectations! And I agree, it’s nice to come home to no dishes.

      • I was chatting to hubby about the Akitakomachi rice. First, there was a famous woman in the Heian period who was apparently the most beautiful woman of all and her name was Ono no Komachi so komachi came to refer to beauty in women. When I lived in Akita, I was told that women from that prefecture were unusually beautiful. We ate the Akitakomachi brand of rice in Japan and from what I remember, it had a picture of what was supposed to be a beautiful woman on the bag. I’d forgotten all about this until our conversation!.As for the shinkansen, hubby thinks that it is also following this beauty idea – a train that takes you to the land of beauty! 😀

  7. I like Calrose rice, which is a short grain “sushi grade” rice from California (like me!). Depending on what I’m eating with the rice I’ll go for plain old long-grain (especially if there’s a sauce or with any Mexican food), or jasmine rice, or whatever.
    I don’t do parboiled rice. I don’t usually go for brown rice or purple/black/forbidden rice. I like the visual aspect but I don’t like the toughness that doesn’t seem to go away.

    • I’ve heard of Calrose (and seen it) but not tried it yet.

      And thanks for reminding me that it’s true that with some food, Japonica rice wouldn’t be suitable at all.

      We hardly ever eat Mexican or Indian food, so in most cases Japonica work for us. I even use it for making fried rice. But I do also have a packet of Basmati rice in the cupboard when making kedgeree (which is only a few times a year anyway).

  8. “super healthy, home knitted socks in sandals variety” …nice analogy!

    When I first moved out of home, my parents were very against it. They didn’t want me to move out (until I was married or at least graduated) and they said they wouldn’t support me. But one they they couldn’t live with is the idea that I might live somewhere without a rice cooker. So they got me a rice cooker. I’ve never live anywhere without one.

    A nickname that my family used to call me was “fahn tong” which is Cantonese for rice bucket! I love rice. I can eat it every day. I am not a rice snob but I always have several varieties of rice in my pantry. I find it’s just wrong to eat long grain rice with Japanese food and anything but basmati for Indian curries. I don’t mind brown rice but my husband hates it so I don’t have it in my pantry at all. If I see it when I’m out, I’ll order it with my meal because it’s such a novelty to me. I don’t really care about brands.

  9. I’ve wanted a rice cooker for years and didn’t buy it because of lack of space in my kitchens. Two years ago I’ve finally got one and it literally changed my life! I think I won’t be able to eat a boiled rice never again! At home we’re big Asian food I’m general and home-made is always the best option, soba rice cooker is basic (I bought a cheap one though, some day will update to a fancy one!) 🙂

  10. Nobody ever really force fed me brown rice, but I still generally don’t want to eat it unless it’s used in a casserole (I have a great sausage and lentil casserole that uses brown rice) or in stuffed peppers. My mother did make me eat rice at every meal for a long, cash-strapped season in my childhood, which makes me averse to it the way she cooked it–long grain white rice on the stove, in a big pot.

    I have an inexpensive rice cooker that works super well for me. My favorite rice is Calrose rice. I sometimes mix a tiny bit of black rice into it to make it purple. I don’t eat the black rice on its own. I also really, really love wild rice, but it’s SO expensive! I’ve been meaning to pick up some red rice to try soon.

    • Wow, can you imagine all those youth food trauma’s people must have! Isn’t if funny, but at the same time very logic, how the food we eat when we are young (and the circumstances, or the way it’s cooked) influence our food choices in later life.

      I think I read somewhere that wild rice isn’t rice but a grain? Can’t remember, maybe I’m confused with something else…

  11. Genmai is my favourite Japanese rice – it is brown rice with a nutty taste, really delicious!
    Can your rice cooker bake cakes? Here in Japan I don’t have a microwave (due to previous experiences in making them inadvertently explode) but I’d like to invest in a rice cooker with bake button – for cakes, scones, bread, hot cross buns, etcetera

    • My model doesn’t have an official bake function but I heard/read other people using it for making cakes. There is a model that has a bake function, if you’re in Japan, I think it must be fairly easy to get that one (Zojirushi).

      I know that there are also cookers that have multiple functions, including rice, but am not familiar with those at all.

      It’s a big investment, but I definitely find it worth the money as I always have perfect cooked rice!

      Exploding microwaves? Sounds scary…I only had an exploding egg once in the micro..that made a lot of noise!!!

  12. i don’t blame you for this. i too LOVE japanese rice. it’s save to say that NO other rice from any country could beat rice from japan. i just love that slightly sticky and faintly sweet and pillow soft short grain japanese rice. but if you opt for something cheaper but equally tasty, try TAIWANESE rice. they are typically similar to japanese rice, but cheaper. well, they are not usually exported, so maybe difficult to find one. but if you do find it, try it out. i’m lucky enough to have relatives who live there and once in a while sent some rice down my way.

    • Thanks for the tip, will have to look for it in the supermarket. I normally tend to go to the Korean supermarket, but perhaps they sell Taiwanese rice in Chinatown here in London…

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