Nada's Sake: the secret of this rare taste/Rice

Yamada-Nishiki -- the king of sake-making rice.

Yamada-Nishiki was developed specially for sake brewing, and its reputation has spread with the development of Nada

Full-eared Yamada-Nishiki rice plants
Yamada-Nishiki is now so famous as the best sake-making rice as to need little explanation. However, the strain is a rather new breed, just a little more than 60 years old. The first harvest of a predecessor of Yamada-Nishiki was in 1923, after Yamada-sui rice was artificially fertilized with pollen from the Tankan-Tosen strain. Numerous artificial fertilization experiments followed to improve the new strain until the hybrid was finally named Yamada-Nishiki in 1936. Among the many varieties of rice used to make sake, Yamada-Nishiki was quick to gain the name as the best. Why was that? Let us take a closer look at this unrivaled grain.

Yamada-Nishiki plants grow to an average height of 106 centimeters, taller than many other rice plants

  1. Rice grains of Yamada-Nishiki are much larger than average. For instance, 1,000 grains of Yamada-Nishiki weigh about 27 grams, 6.5 grams more than the same amount of Nihon-bare, a strain of nonglutinous rice that is Japan's largest harvest. More than that, Yamada-Nishiki has a skin which is so thin that it is easy to peel off, reducing the time and trouble of rice milling.

  2. Rice grains usually have at their center a core made purely of starch. One glance easily shows that Yamada-Nishiki has a core much larger than any other rice's. When the rice grains are soaked in water, the core slowly dissolves. With Yamada-Nishiki, however, while the core dissolves, the shell keeps its shape. This gives sake made from Yamada-Nishiki a pure, clear taste.

  3. Yamada-Nishiki grains contain much less protein and fat than average. Less protein makes the taste of sake crisp and light, and less fat makes sake more flavorful. It seems as if Yamada-Nishiki were developed just to be made into the best-quality sake.

(Nada's Sake: the secret of this rare taste)

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