Say ‘sushi’ and you automatically think ‘Japan’. But a recent taste test by the experts suggests that the perfect sushi may not be 100 percent Japanese.

On May 1st, Korea’s Agricultural Development Agency revealed that the Japanese-Korean Sushi Critics Association, formed by a head chef and specialist in Japanese cooking, believes that the most fitting rice for sushi is, in fact, Korean. According to the group, Korea’s Hobumu and Shindonjin varieties of rice are best suited to sushi making. The previously accepted optimum rice variety was Japan’s Koshihikari, which has been popular across Japan and the rest of the world since its creation in 1956.

The report has spread like wildfire throughout Korean media, with reports boasting titles such as “Korean rice better for sushi than Japanese rice, says Agricultural Development Agency” and “Korean-grown rice best for sushi!”.

Despite sushi being a distinctly Japanese cuisine, particular rice varieties grown within Korea have been evaluated as the best with which to make it. The critical group, which includes four Japanese experts currently working in Korea, cooked eight different kinds of unlabeled rice, used them to make sushi, and then evaluated the results. They were going by their senses alone, with no indication of where any of the rices had been grown. When looking for the best kind of rice for making sushi, it should have larger grains than regular rice, and have an elasticity without being too sticky. After adding vinegar and molding the rice, the grains should not come apart easily.

The result of the evaluations in the category of taste were, out of a possible 9,  5.9 and 5.6 to Hobumu and Shindojin respectively, higher than Koshihikari’s 5.5 points. There were also two kinds of rice that scored higher than Koshihikari in terms of elasticity and firmness.

The group’s overall recommendations for sushi rice were Hobumu and Shindojin, which is quite a blow for Koshihikari, previously the most popular rice for sushi.

I know from experience that attempting to make sushi from standard white rice in the UK is really not a good idea (it definitely does not fill the criteria of ‘should not come apart easily’).  But when it comes to authentic sushi made with the proper stuff, I admit that I can’t really differentiate one variety of rice from another. Experts aside, does the rice really make such a huge different to the layman’s sushi experience? Would you be able to tell the Shindojin from the Koshihikari?

Source: Livedoor News

Image: Wikipedia