Give us our daily genmai...

Living in Japan for a long time, I get to like rice more and more, and for my daily bento lunch box I like to have some 玄米 (genmai or brown rice). Of course I like white Japanese rice too, which is nice and sticky. There are several common varieties with some taste and texture differences, such as the famous one, Koshikihari, and Norin, Sasanishiki, Akitakomachi, Hitomebore and Hinokari.

I was surprised to learn that Koshihikari, the most popular "Japanese rice" was first created in 1956, by combining 2 different strains of Norin rice varieties, after research that had started in the 1920s. 30% of all rice that is grown is Japan is Koshihikari, and some 80% are in fact varieties of Koshihikari.

It was not until the 1960s and 1970s that machinery becamce common on Japanese farms, so ask any old farmer and I'm sure he (or she) still remembers how to grow the stuff without using fossile fuels, agrichemicals - and a lot of blood, sweat and maybe tears too.

Rice research continues at many institutions around the world, including IRRI in The Philippines. The latest issue of Rice Today has an interesting feature on Rice and Climate Change (pdf).

I do like real bread, with rye flour (or spelt flour if possible) and there are a few bakeries in Japan that supply German style bread that I like. Der Akkord is a shop in Tokyo that takes bread very seriously, and their online shop is worth a visit for good organic, non-GMO, vegan bread.

They explain that they mainly use Haruyutaka flour from Kitaichi Organic Farm in Hokkaido. For other baking, they use Hokushin, Taisetsu and Kitakami flours. They also use flours such as Nanbu depending on availability. Their whole wheat, Norin 61, is grown at an organic farm in Gunma, where only vegetable-based fertilisers have been used for the last 20 years. Whole wheat is ground with a stone grinder. They use organic rye from Grain Works, Canada, accredited by QAI in the U.S.

Address: Der Akkord, 5-45-5 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-0001


Pandabonium said…
I think blogger ate my comment. Hope it was tasty. :p

We eat both white and brown rice which come from fields of K's parents. Brown rice has so much flavor to it, I really enjoy that.

I used to buy big sacks of whole wheat and grind my own flour and bake my own whole wheat bread. It was wonderful.

That bakery sure looks inviting.
Courtney said…
I had no idea that anything like this existed, this is excellent! I look forward to trying it. Brown bread of any kind (even pretend brown bread) is hard to track down.
Martin J Frid said…
P, my Blogger filters enjoy all the organic comments from you!

Hi Courtney, thanks for the comment, you have some nice blogs, seems you are learning Kanji as well, best wishes. Pretend brown bread? Hmm, the next best thing since sliced bread, perhaps? Hope you can find the real thing.
Courtney said…
Well there was the 1-dollar store brand brown that my mom used to buy when I was a kid... but since I've been here, I really pine for actual authentic rye and sourdough and other nonesuch that seems beyond Japanese bakers. I'm very excited to try out this shop and pass on the news to friends.

漢字は、すごくたいへんです。たぶんムリですが、おもしろいと 思います!。(Kanji is really difficult. It's probably impossible, but I think its interesting.)
Julia said…
ooh, thanks for the address of that bakery! i will definitly check it out. just a few days ago i also wrote about a very nice bakery in tokyo called "paritto fuwatto" - please have a look at my blog for more details :)

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