California / Japanese Rice
Milled rice grains [Sushi Rice; Uruchimai (Japanese - ordinary rice); Orzo sativa var japonica]

This is a medium grain rice with translucent grains high in easily gelatinized amylopectin starch. This is the preferred type for cooking in Japan, Korea and parts of northern China. It is also used in the Caribbean, imported from California, and South America where it may be grown locally or imported from California. This type of rice is used where a medium sticky rice is desired, rather than the very separate grains of long grain rice.

Varieties favored in Japan are Koshihikari (most popular), Akitakomachi, Sasanishiki (preferred for sushi) and Yamada Nishiki (preferred for saki).

About 85% of the California crop is "Calrose" varieties. The original Calrose (USDA # C.I. 8988), released in 1948, was developed to suite California growing conditions and Asian tastes. The original 8988 was replaced by more water thrifty varieties in the 1970s and "Calrose" is now a generic term for California varieties. I personally much prefer Kukuho Rose, grown in California by Koda Farms. California's major export markets are Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Turkey, in that order. 60% of the California crop is consumed in North America. Calrose rice is also grown in Australia.

Some Japanese Koshihikari rice is also now grown in California. Some brown California rice is produced, mainly for sale in North America as Asians eat almost no brown rice. Some short grain "sweet rice" (Japanese mochigome) is grown in California, particularly by Koda Farms, and it is also grown elsewhere in the United States, but this is a specialty rice used for sweets and deserts. Only in Laos is sweet rice the main rice, but you should use Thai sweet rice for Laotian cooking. It is one of those "rule breakers", a long grain sweet rice.

More on Rice.

While specific imported varieties may be preferable for some specific ethnic uses, California rice has been found to work well enough for sushi (just about all sushi made in North America), Italian risotto and even Spanish Paella (some compromise on those two). It is excellent for Eastern European cabbage rolls and other stuffing uses. Nearly all Japanese and Korean cooking done in North America uses this type rice (For Southeast Asian and Southern China cuisines use Thai Jasmine rice).

Buying:   Calrose rice can be found in nearly any supermarket or ethnic market in North America.   Caution:   "Calrose" once meant a specific variety, but is now generic. One common brand, Botan, has been widely criticized, particularly for sushi. One knowledgeable writer recommends Safeway brand Calrose as much better, but even more likes my favorite, Kukuho Rose. It is a little harder to find, unless you know where to find a Korean market (no problem here in Los Angeles). The Koreans very much like the Kukuho Rose (the style with the big red ball) and the markets stock mountains of it. Japanese imports are very hard to find as Japan is a major importer of rice and exports very little.

Storing:   This rice can eventually become rancid. Storage should be in a tightly sealed container away from heat, light and moisture, and it should be consumed within a year. Brown rice should be used within a month or two as it goes rancid quickly.

Cooking:   For normal steaming of California white rice, a cup of rice should get a touch more than 1-3/4 cups of water and should be fully cooked within 25 minutes. Exact amount of water and time will vary a little depending on age of rice.

gr_ricaljapz 140105   -
©Andrew Grygus - - Photos on this page not otherwise credited are © cg1 - Linking to and non-commercial use of this page permitted