Genealogy of Rice
■Rice Cultivars are Very International
As the name suggests, "Japonica rice" is cultivated mainly in Japan, northeastern China, and the Korean Peninsula. "Indica rice" is rice cultivated from southern China to Southeast Asia, India, and the United States. And "Javanica rice" is cultivated in Indonesia and Europe.
In Japan, only Japonica rice is produced, but in terms of global production, Indica rice is the majority, grown at 80%, and the share of Japonica rice is about 20% (* 1).
Cultivation Distribution of Japonica, Indica and Javanica Rice
Compared to other well-known grains such as wheat and corn, Rice is mostly grown in Asia. However since it is also grown in America and Australia, we can say that Rice is an international grain. Recently, a new variety that combines the best characteristics of Asian and African rice has been developed, and it is expected to be able to solve the food crisis in Africa.
* 1: Javanica rice is cultivated mainly in Indonesia, but the production volume is not high. It is also called "Tropical Japonica" and is sometimes classified as part of Japonica rice.
Different Looks & Texture of Rice
Japonica rice, which Japanese people are accustomed to, is also quite distinctive compared to other varieties. Firstly, the shape of Japonica grain looks like a plump rugby ball. Indica rice, on the other hand, is called long grain rice because it has a more elongated shape. Javanica rice is even larger and is called a medium-grained variety.
Not only how it looks, but the taste also varies greatly when it is cooked. When Japonica rice is cooked or steamed, it becomes deliciously sticky and plump. The white "rice" that Japanese people love is a way of eating that highlights the best characteristics of Japonica rice. Indica rice is well known to have a crunchy texture that is great for fried rice and curry. It seems simmering is better than cooking it the conventional way for Indica.
Types of Rice & Suitable Dishes
Reference: Food Agency Inspection Notebook (Agricultural Product Standard Regulation)
Javanica rice also produces stickiness when it is heated, but not as much as Japonica, which makes it ideal for dishes like risotto or paella. The difference in stickiness and fluffiness is due to the difference in the starch component contained in each rice grain variety. The texture after heating changes depending on the content of two types of starch, amylopectin which makes it sticky, and amylose that makes it feel fluffy. Japonica rice, which is often eaten by Japanese people, contains about 80% amylopectin and about 20% amylose. Amylopectin is 100% in sticky rice (mochi rice), where stickiness is the main characteristic. On the other hand, the amylose content of Indica rice is 22 to 28%, which makes it more fluffy and less sticky than Japonica rice. The climate and soil of the land where the rice is cultivated shape the characteristics of each rice variety, which eventually makes a big difference in the preference and cuisine of the people in each region. Rice may look simple but in fact, it is a deep, thought-provoking grain.