Rice: Integral Part of Japanese Culture

Written by on January 19th, 2018 // Filed under Blog

Japanese Rice Varieties

Did you know that rice accounts for around a quarter of the daily caloric intake of Japan. On a daily basis, whichever time of day, the traditional Japanese meal is rice, one soup and three side dishes. Cooked rice is central to Japanese tradition and for over 2,000 years it was cultivated all across the country. It is barely absent on the dinner table and has come to symbolize the Japanese way of life.

There are several main varieties of rice in Japan. There’s the most common white rice, called ‘hakumai’. It is short grained and sticky when cooked. Most of Japanese rice is polished rice where the outer skin or bran is removed and served as white rice, served with most Japanese meals.

Glutinous rice, known as mochigome, is used mainly for making mochi, sticky when cooked and has a firmer, chewier texture. Glutinous rice are grains that “stick” together for easy eating with chopsticks. Stickier than regular rice, it’s also pounded into rice cakes, made into sweets, or as sekihan, glutinous rice w/ red beans.

Genmai, or brown rice, is essentially unpolished white rice. Full of flavour, a little firmer than white rice and a highly nutritious option. It is not as delicious as white rice but considered more healthy. The nutrition is in the outer bran which is retained to keep intact the vitamins and minerals therein. It has a shorter shelf life.

Uruchimai is also a short-grain variety, but slightly less sticky and glutinous, and lighter in body. It’s ideal for sushi, eating plain, and for use in a range of dishes, making it the most commonly used rice in Japan.

How is Japanese rice served?

Gohan is the central dish of a Japanese meal, other dishes served with it are only accompaniments. Rice cakes or mochi are made from steamed and pounded glutinous rice, eaten fresh, grilled, fried or served in soups. Rice balls or onigiri are made of cooked rice and commonly wrapped in nori seaweed. The tamago kake gohan is a breakfast rice dish with raw egg. Kayu is Japanese rice porridge. Donburi is a bowl of plain cooked rice with food on top, like beef, seafood, or chicken and egg. Other forms are the sushi, chahan or fried rice, omuraisu or omelet rice, rice crackers and rice bread.

Unlike with other foods, Japan is self-sufficient in rice, and so is considered sacred. Because of the integral nature of rice to Japanese culture, it’s found in many variations throughout Japanese cuisine.

Different Ways to Enjoy Rice in Federal Way

Do you see how Japanese rice is almost in all facets of food preparation? Truly, it is central to a way of life. Enjoy our delicious rice dishes here at your Japanese restaurant in Federal Way.