Fact Checked

How Do I Choose the Best Nishiki Rice?

G. D. Palmer
G. D. Palmer

Not every bag of Nishiki Japanese medium-grain rice produces the same quality product. You can choose better Nishiki rice by inspecting the package for broken grains or signs of rough handling. Buying rice from the most recent harvest also produces better-tasting, faster-cooking Nishiki rice.

Nishiki is a brand of medium grain rice produced by JFC International, Incorporated. This rice originated in Japan but is grown in California. It is not related to the Yamata Nishiki breed of rice used to make sake, or rice wine. JFC International also produces Botan and Ichiban, medium-grain rice brands sold at a lower price point than Nishiki.

A nishiki rice plant.
A nishiki rice plant.

Medium-grain rice makes an excellent all-purpose rice, because it is sticky enough for Japanese dishes such as sushi and rice balls but is more versatile than short-grain rice. Nishiki medium-grain rice comes in both fully milled white and unmilled brown varieties. The brown rice is slightly more expensive, less sticky and contains more fiber than the white type.

Sushi made with nishiki rice.
Sushi made with nishiki rice.

The white version of this brand of rice is a musenmai rice, produced by a milling process that does not leave talcum powder or cornstarch on the grains. This means that Nishiki rice does not need extensive washing before you cook it. A brief rinse can still improve the quality of the finished product because it removes stray starch that is clinging to the outside of the grain.

Brown nishiki rice.
Brown nishiki rice.

Nishiki white rice comes in bags that weigh 1 pound (0.45 kg), 5 pounds (2.27 kg), 10 pounds (4.54 kg), 15 pounds (6.8 kg) and 50 pounds (22.7 kg). The brown type comes in bags that weigh 2 pounds (0.91 kg), 5 pounds (2.27 kg), 15 pounds (6.8 kg) or 20 pounds (9.07 kg). The 15- to 50-pound (6.8- to 22.7-kg) packages are opaque, but the 1-pound (0.45-kg), 2-pound (0.91-kg) and 5-pound (2.27-kg) packages come in clear plastic, allowing buyers to inspect their rice for broken grains.

Rice that has a high percentage of broken pieces is often old or has been poorly handled. It will produce a mushier, denser-cooked product than whole grains. Use broken rice to make traditional Japanese rice porridge, called okayu.

Fresher Nishiki rice has a brighter, more complex taste than old rice. It also cooks more quickly and produces a lighter, fluffier result. Nishiki bags do not carry a date of harvest stamp like some rice brands. This can make it difficult to determine the age of your rice. You can ask the store when it ordered the rice to ensure that you get the freshest package.

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Discussion Comments


@SarahGen-- I cook with Nishiki brown rice frequently. It tastes nutty, like most brown rice does. It does take longer to cook than regular white rice though. It took me a few tries to figure out how to cook brown Nishiki rice. It requires extra water and a longer cooking time. But this rice is healthier than white Nishiki rice.

I don't make Asian food with this rice actually. I usually make risotto with it and it works great. I buy a two pound bag. It lasts me a long time and it's not very expensive.


@fBoyle-- I highly recommend locating an Asian supermarket or grocery and buying your Nishiki rice from there. I buy mine from a Chinese grocery and it's always fresh. The grocery has lots of customers and they have stacks and stacks of rice. They sell a lot of it and order a new batch frequently. So the rice is always fresh.

I love Nishiki rice. I can make anything with it. I use it to make sushi, rice pilaf and also soup. It literally works for anything and it tastes very good. I have never tried brown Nishiki rice though. I always eat the white variety.

Has anyone here tried brown Nishiki? What does it taste like?


I have a hard time finding fresh Nishiki premium rice. My supermarket carries it but it's definitely not from a recent harvest. I can't inspect the package either so I have to take a chance and just pick one. The last package I bought had lots of broken pieces and it was not fragrant when cooked.

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    • A nishiki rice plant.
      A nishiki rice plant.
    • Sushi made with nishiki rice.
      By: BlueOrange Studio
      Sushi made with nishiki rice.
    • Brown nishiki rice.
      By: airborne77
      Brown nishiki rice.