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.
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.
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.
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.