Looking at rice - what ARE the qualities of 'sushi rice'

Loretta
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Bento-ing from: London › UK
Joined: 4 Mar 2009
User offline. Last seen 1 year 17 weeks ago.

wrong_rice.jpgWhilst staying with my parents recently I purchased a package of “sushi rice” from a major UK supermarket. The rice was their own brand and was grown in the USA.

Without having anything to compare it to for a side by side comparison, this rice didn’t seem at all unusual when raw.

However, once cooked it seemed rather different to the rice I’m used to using for Japanese food.

I wasn’t able to take a detailed photo of the cooked grains (this image was made with an iPad) but it does give an idea of how long and thin those grains were – those that remained unbroken, anyway.

I made onigiri with a tuna soboro filling with this rice but they didn’t stick together as well as they do with other brands of rice. The taste of this rice was also rather disappointing; rather bland even with the zakkokumai.

What do you think? Do the individual grains look normal for a ‘sushi rice’?

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anon.
Re: Looking at rice - what ARE the qualities of 'sushi rice'

This is all you need to know about rice:
http://www.justhungry.com/2007/01/looking_at_rice.html

Loretta
Moderator
Bento-ing from: London › UK
Joined: 4 Mar 2009
User offline. Last seen 1 year 17 weeks ago.
Re: Looking at rice - what ARE the qualities of 'sushi rice'

The title of this thread is "Looking at rice"

The page linked to is also called "Looking at rice" ...hmmmm...

The relevant paragraph is this one
"This is Japanese-style rice, or uruchi-mai - the kind of rice I talk about the most on this site. It is also sold as medium grain rice, or sushi rice. It's the rice to use for almost any kind of Japanese dish, including the all-important sushi and onigiri. The rice grains cling together without being mushy when properly cooked. This rice must be polish-washed to bring out its best flavor, as I have previously described. The best kinds of this rice have a translucent quality and have clean, rounded grains. As you can see, the grains are rounder compared to long-grain rice."

And I wanted to discuss this in greater detail.

So lets see:
Rice grains cling together without being mushy when properly cooked - check
Translucent quality when raw (particularly when rinsed) - check
Clean, rounded grains when raw - check

Yet this rice still seems very different once cooked to all the other uruchi-mai I've used.

(There's a hybrid grain called Jasponica which is supposed to be a cross between Jasmine rice and Japonica rice. I doubt this rice is Jasponica but it seems like a perfect description of the cooked result)

beach
Bento-ing from: › Georgia › USA
Joined: 3 Feb 2011
User offline. Last seen 1 year 37 weeks ago.
Re: Looking at rice - what ARE the qualities of 'sushi rice'

Loretta, it doesn't look normal to me, either. Perhaps it's an accidental cross-breed? Since it looks the same raw, it could easily have slipped through any quality control procedures the farm had. I don't know anything about how rice is fertilized, though, so maybe this isn't possible. If it were me, I'd just avoid this brand in future -- or you could contact them and ask them. (I have bought California-grown Japonica rice here, from several different brands, and none of it has looked like that, so I don't think the issue is where it was grown.)

Loretta
Moderator
Bento-ing from: London › UK
Joined: 4 Mar 2009
User offline. Last seen 1 year 17 weeks ago.
Re: Looking at rice - what ARE the qualities of 'sushi rice'

Thank you beach!

Most of the uruchi-mai I've used in the UK was grown in the USA so this experience has been a surprise.

What bothers me is that the supermarket in question is the UK's largest and has a strong presence in other countries, they are enormously powerful and have a huge influence on how people experience food. They are such a giant in the food retailing industry that if they decree that this IS sushi rice and enough of the population accept this and then start expecting it there is then the possibility that this will become the standard Japanese-type rice in all but a few specialised outlets.
(In other words, other retailers spending more on Japanese rice may realise they can increase their profits by buying this rice variety instead and that the majority of their customers will accept the switch without a murmur).

I have already written to them about this rice but I may be the only one who has done so. The problem is, I know what I expect from uruchi-mai but I don't know what the defining properties are so that a supermarket would understand them.

Then again, any opinions (like your own) as to whether the cooked rice looks right or wrong are very welcome to me at the moment.

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