Rice is very special for Japanese, you could say it represents our spirit and religion.
Rice is always in the center of the meal in Japan, not only as a staple food that includes the carbohydrates we should take everyday, but also as a side dish to complement the delicate flavors of Japanese cuisine.
Eating excellent white rice at home is a symbol of wealth.
At the restaurant, if they serve a wonderful main dish, but the rice is lacking in quality or ill-prepared, we are left dissatisfied. The restaurant will be considered low class, and we will not re-patron.
Rice is evaluated by its taste, surface luster, texture, smell, sweetness, shape and color…There are many contributing aspects to a quality grain.
Even deceivingly simple, rice can be enjoyed just as 'white rice'. One popular and delicious example is the rice ball "ONIGIRI".
There are many different kinds of ONIGIRI from ONIGIRI with salmon or UME(plum pickles), to the highest quality ONIGIRI, the GINSHARI NIGIRI which uses only the best white rices and salts.
In ancient Japan, people would pay their taxes with rice. So from this historical past time, is rice also considered a measure of wealth and value.
Even now, we scold children if they leave even one piece of rice in their rice bowl -“If you don’t eat it all, your eyes will be blinded.”
This means that we think rice is special, and we give our gratitude towards our rice farmers.
We also have a saying, “There are 7 Gods in the one rice package.”
In autumn we feel happiness and the pleasure of a luxurious life as we partake in the newest crop of rice called, "SHIN-MAI"
Throughout Japan, from city-to-city, to family-to-family different ways of cooking and preparing rice exist, however rice is always treated carefully and with respect.
One story comes to mind from a friend of mine. His father who was becoming forgetful in his old age became sick. Despite his forgetfulness, he always remembered the taste and flavor of his favorite rice. One day, while staying at a hospital he was served rice. When he tasted this rice, he stated, " This is not my favorite rice". His wife brought him his very soft rice, bringing a bright smile to his face. His favorite rice brought him peace of mind. Food is essential in life.
How to treat, and what we think about rice is an expression of our culture and spirit.
- Wash the rice in the pot with cold water (In winter, the fingers can become cold and chilly, but never use hot water).
- Scrub the rice, and pay attention to see that rice is not cracked. We enjoy the nice sound that caused when we scrub the rice.
- Wash the rice repeatedly until the water remains clear.
- Put the rice into the pan, add the measured water, cover with the lid and let it sit for 20 minutes.
- After that, cook the rice 13~16minutes. With the first 5minutes on low heat, then tuned to medium or high. Once you start cooking the rice, do not remove the lid or stir.
- After cooking, turn off the heat but keep the lid tight to complete the steaming process for an additional 10-20 minutes.