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Signature Rice of Yamagata: Hainuki

I have been rice tasting for years in Japan because I feel rice is an essential grain not only for Japanese cuisine, but also nihonshu.

A few of my big favorites are Milky Queen, which is grown in few different prefectures in Japan. The one in the above link is organically grown in Toyama prefecture. Another one of my favorites is Sasanishiki rice. On that link there’s an excellent write-up on how to grade and taste rice. Another Sasanishiki from Akita prefecture is here.

Then there’s this rice called “Hito Me Bore” which can be picked up at almost any major retailer you go to now. This rice is a big favorite of mine, actually I prefer this one over Koshihikari, King of Kings when it comes to rice, because I believe that the growers of Hito Me Bore have better quality control mechanisms in place than Koshihikari. My reasoning is simple. it’s a well known fact that Japan doesn’t grow enough rice annually to feed the entire population, and growing a premium rice like Koshihikari cost more money to grow on a larger scale than most rice. As a result some farmers have come under scrutiny for mixing their rice in order to meets unreasonably strict quotas for rice production. In the case of Hito Me Bore, not many people know about it, thus smaller farmers can grow and package it and sell it direct.

Another great rice is which hails from Hokkaido is called Nanatsuboshi and is especially cultivated to grow under extreme conditions during Hokkaido’s bitter cold winters. It’s a sturdy strong rice grain with good hardiness and flavor.

Lastly, the sake for this post I am using is called Hainuku, a rice grain grown exclusively in Yamagata. If you like something that’s got great tooth stickiness then I recommend this grain. You may need to experiment a little, but when pouring the normal amount of water in the rice cooker, you may want to add a half a cup more water than you would regularly add to regular non-brand name rice.

Hainuki rice has a good firm texture and is a bit stickier than most rice I have cooked. Still a very nice and hardy rice that complements beef or chicken dishes well.



The rice grain. A bit smaller than average rice grains.


Test tasting with nice and hot premium marbled fatty beef cuts and a little pork.


Hot rice and fatty beef go so well together. They were made for each other!

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