Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Koshi Rice: Favorite Things

Koshi Rice
I am hoarding rice. It's not what you think. I have fallen in love with the precious samples of Koshihikari rice I was sent by an Arkansas farmer. Mark Isbell grows a Japanese premium variety of short grain rice and Isbell Farms has been exporting it to Japan since 1995. He has only recently begun selling it in the United States under the name "Koshi Rice."

Last Spring I got bored with white rice and virtually stopped cooking it. It just tasted flat and mushy to me. Then in the Fall I went to Japan and knew I would be eating a lot of it. What I didn't know is that the quality of rice I would eat was far superior to what I was used to eating. It was the harvest season and the rice was "new" and didn't just have a tender texture but an almost floral, fruity scent. I was hooked. Often the rice had just a bit of a garnish on it and that was all. Once I spent $18 for plain freshly harvested rice cooked in a stone bowl. I know it sounds insane, but it was worth every penny and I'd order it again if I could.

So I was curious to try Mark's rice. I've not been very impressed with California rice, could Arkansas rice be that different? All I can tell you is: yes. It is that different. As Mark describes it, koshihikari rice is shiny, smooth and mildly sweet. It holds it's shape very well and is a typical choice for sushi because it is a bit sticky, but in my experience it is fabulous with almost anything. After cooking it for the first time Lee begged me to cook it again and again. But because it's expensive, I have saved it for special meals. But life is short. Regardless of the price, I am going to stop hoarding and just start stocking up (especially since it is available online).