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Jan 4, 2023

HOW TOJapanese Rice Varieties and the Dishes that Complement Them

With Japan's many different rice varieties, can you tell the difference between brands just by taste alone? These subtle nuances can elevate your dish to new heights!

Jan 4, 2023

The king of Japanese rice: Koshihikari

One of the most well-known and versatile Japanese rice varieties is Koshihikari. Koshihikari rice is known for its sweet and delicate flavor and sticky texture. As a short-grain variety, it’s more starchy and soft, notably used in sushi and onigiri. 

Koshihikari is the best choice for these two dishes because of the sticky and dense nature of the rice. This makes the rice easy to mold, making it perfect for onigiri. The rice’s stickiness also helps it to absorb the flavors of the other ingredients in the dish and makes it easier to eat with chopsticks.

Koshihikari rice is also known for its pleasant aroma, described as nutty and floral. A perfect companion for both sushi and onigiri, it’s also perfect for traditional dishes like donburi (rice bowls) and zosui (a type of rice soup or risotto). 

Hitomebore: A Japanese staple

Like Koshihikari, Hitomebore is a short-grain sticky rice that is known to be very well-balanced and to go well with a wide variety of dishes. One of the popular dishes that Hitomebore pairs well with is Japanese curry, adding a fluffy and chewy base layer to this already fantastic dish.

Hitomebore is also enjoyed cold as the complementing rice in Japanese bento. Bento is a traditional Japanese lunch box that typically contains rice, fish or meat and vegetables. Hitomebore is also a very popular choice when making onigiri and sushi. The rice’s stickiness, texture, aroma and flavor make it a perfect ingredient for these dishes.

Konjiki no Kaze: A fluffy favorite

There is a new kid on the block! Konjiki no Kaze is a new breed of rice debuting in 2017. This is another short-grain rice – with a twist. This breed of rice incorporates the subtleness and texture of Koshihikari while also keeping the flavor and aroma of Hitomebore, making a tantalizing combination for rice aficionados.

This subtle texture and pronounced flavor makes Konjiki no Kaze a great companion for tamago kake gohan well known as TKG. This simple and popular Japanese dish consists of steamed rice topped with a raw egg and soy sauce. Konjiki no Kaze also works great in chazuke, steamed rice topped with green tea, dashi and ingredients like salmon, umeboshi (pickled plums) or nori (laver).

Seiten no hekireki: The Premium

Similar to Konjiki no Kaze, Seiten no Hekireki is a brand-new breed of rice. Seiten no Hekireki is described as being firm and fluffy with a subtle sweetness. This is a premium breed of rice, making it a bit harder to come by and a little more pricey. If you can get your hands on it, this breed of rice pairs well with many dishes, including butadon – grilled pork served over a bowl of steamed rice. Another dish that would be a good match is okayu, a thick, porridge-like rice dish made from steamed rice, water or dashi and additional ingredients like vegetables, meat or fish.