Sushi (寿司): One of the most popular Japanese delicacies, sushi refers to rice that is mixed with vinegar and combined with raw fish, vegetables or a sweetened egg, and is sometimes wrapped in nori, or seaweed.
Sake (酒, Japanese rice wine): One of Japan’s most famous varieties of alcohol, sake is made by fermenting polished rice in a process similar to that of brewing beer.
Onigiri/omusubi (おにぎり・おむすび): Lightly salted rice balls formed into a triangular or cylindrical shape with various fillings, often wrapped in nori (のり, seaweed). Some common fillings include cooked salmon, katsuo-bushi (かつお節, dried bonito flakes), ume (梅, pickled plum), and konbu (昆布, seasoned seaweed). Onigiri is simple to make and easy to carry around, so it is commonly taken for lunch or breakfast on the go.
Mochi (餅): These chewy and sticky rice cakes are a favorite among the Japanese, and are made from pounding “mochi gome” (もち米, mochi rice) into a paste. Mochi is commonly eaten with red bean paste and kinako (きな粉, roasted soybean flour). It can be found in many desserts, drinks, and even savory soups.
Tsukemono (漬物): There are many ways to prepare tsukemono (pickled ‘things’), but one common method is to pickle vegetables in roasted rice bran or sake lees. Tsukemono are served as appetizers with almost every washoku (和食, traditional Japanese dish) meal. Common tsukemono include radish, cucumber, Japanese plum, eggplant, cabbage, and ginger.
Senbei (せんべい): A common rice cracker snack made from pressed rice that is baked or fried to perfection. Japanese rice crackers can be found in various shapes and sizes, and though usually savory, can also be sweet.
Rice is best eaten fresh, right after the harvest season in the fall. Why not visit Japan to enjoy shinmai, the freshly harvested rice of the year?