Japanese chef and author Shizuo Tsuji wrote, “Rice is a beautiful food. It is beautiful when it grows, precision rows of sparkling green stalks shooting up to reach the hot summer sun. It is beautiful when harvested, autumn gold sheaves piled on diked, patchwork paddies. It is beautiful when once threshed, it enters granary bins like a (flood) of tiny seed-pearls.” When we think of picturesque rice paddies, Indonesia and Thailand spring to mind. Yet here in California, we also grow rice—although no rice is grown with the care of Koda Farms in the San Joaquin Valley.
Koda Farms is an important farm in California family farming history. Keisaburo Koda came to California from Japan in 1908. His father had been a samurai but later became a miller and rice broker. University educated in Japan, Keisaburo was drawn to the Wild West by the fortune prospecting that brought many to California. He did some wildcatting and various business ventures, but in the 1920s, he returned to his family background in rice. He bought land for a farm and began perfecting Japanese types of rice. Koda’s Kokuho Rose is now a highly sought after varietal, not only for its excellent flavor but its high quality—less than 2% broken kernels (regular commercial rice is upwards of 4%). “Quality is very important to us, and we are diligent about all aspects of our rice,” says Keisaburo’s grandson Ross Koda, who carries on the family tradition and operates Koda Farms.
- The cooking directions for such exquisite rice are very specific. Koda Farms recommends an electric rice cooker for best results.
- Washing, soaking, and draining rice in advance of cooking is traditional, although not essential. If you choose to do so, rinse the rice first, and soak in bottled, purified, or filtered water (enough to cover the rice) for 30 minutes, then drain. For stovetop preparation, combine 1.5 cups rice with 2 cups bottled water in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil.
- Cover and reduce to a low simmer, approximately 20 minutes till water is absorbed.
- Remove from heat and let rest 15 minutes.
- Fluff with a fork and let rest again (for more detailed information, visit Koda Farms’ “Preparing Your Rice” web page).
Storage: Uncooked rice should be stored in a cool, dry place.