According to rice guru Nishijima Toyozo, the cultivated rice grains in Japan today are very different from those in the old days. Unlike in the old days, when rice could be stored at room temperature, rice grains today require a more delicate care when it comes to storing. Although people think that washing rice does not matter as much as storing to ensure the best flavor, it is, in fact, the most important process as the flavor will depend on how thoroughly you wash it.
So how should you store rice? As rice grains today tend to be softer, have a shorter life span and are more easily spoiled, it is important to put the rice in an airtight container in the vegetable box of the refrigerator. According to Mr. Nishijima, it is not advisable to leave the rice grains in the original bag even if the bag is tied or sealed with a rubber band because the rice will lose its flavor. Rice must be put away properly so that it will not dry out and harden.
It is also recommended to buy smaller quantities of rice to avoid spoiling. Smaller quantities mean that the amount of rice should only be enough to last a week or ten days. Buying smaller quantities also allows consumers to explore and try out other varieties of rice brands.
Because of the delicacy of rice grains cultivated nowadays, rice should not be scrubbed very hard when you wash it with your bare hands. There are three to four basic steps for washing your rice.
Step 1: Add cold water to the rice and swirl it around for about ten seconds. Drain the water quickly and repeat the first step so that the cloudy white color of the drained water will not be absorbed during cooking.
Step 2: Put your hand in the bowl with your fingers extended as if they are gripping a ball. Then, swirl your hand around the bowl about twenty times in a rhythmical, whisk-like motion to make sure that the rice is washed by the movement of the grains themselves as they rub against each other and not your hand.
Step 3: Rinse the rice in cold water twice or more times. However, this will only be the final step if the rice is fresher than one-year-old (from its harvest time).
Step 4: For rice grains that are older than one year, it is required to whisk the rice ten more times before rinsing it with cold water (twice or more).
Make sure that these three or four steps will be completed in just 1.5-3 minutes and make sure not to be washing the rice for too long or too hard. The flavor will go down the drain if the timing isn’t right.
Now that you know how to ensure the best flavor of rice grains, your Japanese dishes will be more delicious than ever!
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