In the previous article, we talked about the history, production and origins of rice. Rice is very important to humans as a form of food and has been at the center of several different cuisines for many centuries. And so, it has naturally also found its way into the culinary segment of pleasure aka alcoholic beverages.
Rice is often consumed with other nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans and peas, nuts, seeds and different types of meats.
But did you know that there are different types of rice and their uses all differ?
Arborio is used to make risotto in Italy while Basmati, the aromatic type of rice, is used in curries and stir-fries across India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Black rice often referred as “purple” or “forbidden” rice and is used to make sticky rice or porridge. Brown rice is often used in breakfast cereals, sushi and puddings. Jasmine rice (originating from Thailand) is great for steaming, while its cousin Red rice is often used in rice salads, bowls and stuffings for its chewy texture.
Through historical evidence, we found out that during the 3rd century, rice was made into vinegar and used in Japanese and Chinese cuisine. Rice vinegar was a luxury at that time. In the 7th century, Japanese began to put vinegar in tins of fish as they realised that this causes a release of lactic acid from rice which helps marinate the fish. This method of fish marinating is believed to be the bases for sushi production. This process took 2 to 12 months and it did not take off as expected.
There is also another dish called nare-zushi or salted fish, as it is known today, where rice is used in preservation of foods. The salted fish is stored in rice, for months where the rice will start fermenting, which will thus prevent the fish from spoiling. Rice vinegar was added to the preparation of nare-zushi between the years of 1336-1573 for the sake of enhancing taste and preservation.
By the end of 18th century, a gentleman called Hanaya Yohei began advocating against fermentation and started creating dishes inspired by the two previously mentioned methods, that is meant to be eaten quickly and to be eaten by one hand, sort of fast food if you like. And so, Sushi was born. According to word on the streets, Sushi that we have today is said to be a one third of the portions Hanaya Yohei first suggested.
Enough of food and let’s look at the beverage side of the rice.
Some of the most popular rice-based beverages are: sake, shochu, amazake, horchata, rice milk and rice wine to name a few.
As rice is a grown across whole Asia there are many interesting beverages we are not aware of. So stay tuned for more articles.
Bartender’s note: “Have you thought of using rice milk in your cocktails?”