There are so many different kinds of rice that it can get confusing knowing which one to use.
Each one is ideal for a different style of cooking or cuisine, and if you use the wrong rice then the texture of the dish could be wrong.
If you are interested in trying Japanese rice then you might have asked yourself these questions – are sushi rice and Japanese rice the same thing? Is all Japanese rice sticky?
We have put together this useful guide to tell you everything you need to know about Japanese rice. Keep reading to find out more.
The Three Types Of Japanese Rice
Rice is a very important part of Japanese cuisine and Japanese culture in general. It also plays a big role in the economy of Japan.
Japanese rice can be categorized into three types:
Long grain is long and thin and it is the most commonly used type of Japanese rice. When the rice is cooked it has a firm texture but the grains come together to form a fluffy pile.
It is not very sticky so the grains are easy to separate. It is similar to Jasmine rice
Medium grain is not as long as long grain rice but it has a similar width.
The grains stick together a little bit as it has some stickiness. The cooked rice is tender with a slight chewiness to it. It is similar to Arborio rice.
Short grain is the shortest kind and it has a stocky shape. It is quite sticky and as the grains cook they stick together.
This is because the rice has a higher starch content. This is a very common type of Japanese rice.
There are two types of short grain rice that are most prevalent in Japan. Uruchimai is used to make rice balls and sushi and is used in a lot of general, everyday cooking.
It is also used to make sake – a type of Japanese wine – and rice vinegar.
Mochigome has a sweeter taste and is used to make mochi rice cakes and various Japanese sweets. It is much stickier and chewier.
Are Japanese Rice And Sticky Rice The Same Thing?
In Western culture, people often refer to Japanese rice as sticky rice, but they are not the same thing. As shown above by the different rice categories, not all Japanese rice is sticky.
Also, not all sticky Japanese rice is interchangeable – you cannot use Mochigome for sushi and you cannot use uruchimai to make rice cakes.
When Western people ask how to make sticky rice, they are often asking how to make sushi rice.
Sushi rice is usually made with uruchimai that has been steamed with vinegar, salt and sugar. In Japan it is often called sumeshi, which means vinegared rice.
The rice used for donburi rice bowls, onigiri rice balls or to go alongside a Japanese curry may have a sticky consistency, but it is not the same as sushi rice.
The confusion occurs when ‘sushi rice’ is used as a label for regular Japanese short-grain rice outside of Japan. Sometimes some recipes also refer to Japanese rice as “sushi rice.”
What Is Calrose Rice?
Calrose rice is a variety of rice that has been grown by Japanese Americans since the 1940s.
It has a lot of the same properties as Japanese rice and is a cheaper alternative to buying imported Japanese rice.
It is grown in California and a lot of Japanese restaurants and sushi vendors in America use it instead of using authentic Japanese rice.
Where Can You Buy Japanese Rice?
You can easily get hold of authentic Japanese rice from Japanese grocery stores or Asian grocery stores.
Some larger store chains stock some of the most popular varieties of Japanese rice, and you can also buy it online.
There are lots of different brands to choose from. If you’re not sure which one to get then keep an eye out for Koshikkikari as this is a very popular type of rice in Japan.
They also offer a variety grown in California which will be cheaper, called Shirakiku.
When choosing Japanese rice you want to look out for how fresh it is, whether it has a nice fragrance, whether it is sweet, and whether the grains are shiny.
These are all good indications of high quality Japanese rice.
How Should You Store Japanese Rice?
Japanese rice should be stored in airtight containers to keep it fresh and stop it from drying out.
Rice will keep for a long time, but if you want to get the best flavor and texture then you should use it within a month of opening. Try to buy the right sized bag for how much you will use in a month.
Be very careful when storing rice that has already been cooked, as it can grow bacteria very quickly.
If you are not eating all of the cooked rice straight away then it should be cooled quickly and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Is Japanese Rice Good For You?
Rice is gluten free and sugar free with no sodium and ano cholesterol. This makes it a good source of carbohydrates to give you energy.
White rice is less nutritious than brown rice, as some of the vitamins, minerals and fibers have been stripped away. However, a lot of white rice has been enriched to re-introduce some of those nutrients.
Rice also has a low glycemic index which makes it a good choice for diabetics.
Japanese rice should be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet, as eating too much carbohydrates can cause a spike in your blood sugar and lead to weight gain.
Japanese rice is a very important part of Japanese culture. It is a key element of Japanese cuisine and the Japanese economy.
There are different types of Japanese rice that are used for different purposes due to their grain shape and starch levels.