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General Discussion

Haiga-mai (half-milled) Japanese rice - same taste?

cgfan | Mar 6, 200812:01 AM     10

Just wanted to post a question out in the Chowsphere.

I'm a lifelong consumer of Japanese white rice, and follow a largely Japanese diet, with some other Asian cuisines thrown in for good measure. It's what I grew up with, and where I feel most at home.

To me rice has a flavor all its own, and I definitely do not subscribe to the sometimes prevalent view that all Japanese rice tastes the same. To me a good, high-quality rice has a purity of taste and a subtle sweetness, somehow reminiscent of a refreshing drink from a mountain spring. I find it defies easy explanation, but that's the sensation that my mind conjures up.

Lately I've been noticing in the Japanese stores the new "haiga" rice, milled to remove only the bran layer but leaving intact the germ (haiga). The result is a grain that is more tan than white rice, but considerably paler than brown rice. In fact if I were to place it between these two, I'd put it closer to the white rice than the brown. Certainly it's a much healthier choice than white rice.

However my concern is not the healthfulness of the new haiga-mai, but rather its taste. I've tried brown rice, and while I like it for very limited cuisines, it's certainly not a fit for standard Japanese cuisine, historical considerations aside...

So my question is posed to those who like me have grown up eating Japanese white rice but have tried the new haiga-mai. How do they compare in taste? Is it like its color, that is, closer in taste to white rice than brown? Did you switch back to the white rice, or was it close enough in taste that you're a new, and healthier, convert? If 0 is brown rice and 10 is white rice, where does the new haiga-mai rate on the taste scale?

And what did you think of the color and lustre of the cooked haiga-mai when compared to the regular Jpaanese rice? (The appearance of the rice in particular is not an insignificant factor in Japanese cuisine.)

Many thanks in advance for your considered feedback...

...attached pics: regular Japanese rice, and haiga-mai (half-milled rice)

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