It’s that time of the year! Time for shinmai. Shinmai is the new rice harvest, and everyone really looks forward to tasting the freshness of the new rice!
Shinmai is technically rice that has been produced and eaten within a year from the harvest. The shinmai new rice has a slightly different flavor that rice lovers can pick up immediately. And boy do they love their white rice in Japan! The shinmai is very moist and packed with flavor. I never really liked rice before and it wasn’t really part of my diet growing up. Living in Japan during this time made me love and even crave a bowl of perfect white rice with every meal!
My school is in a country area, so it is surrounded by farms. The rice paddy almost resembles wheat in a way, and I was so amazed the first time I saw it. The shinmai rice is inside of these wheat like stems that come out of the mud, and farmer’s cut them off and separate them using a machine.
To celebrate the arrival of the shinmai, my school works with the surrounding farms every year. After the shimai is separated from the husk, the husk has no purpose. Instead of throwing it away immediately, my school takes the husk and makes a huge smoker type thing on the playground. The husks are piled around it and since sweet potatoes are in season, the kids carefully wrap them in newspaper, soak it in water, then wrap it in aluminum foil to be deposited into the husk pile.
After many hours and turning of the husk, the pile finally turns black and we can retrieve the wrapped sweet potatoes and enjoy their sweetness. The husk gives a unique flavor. It was absolutely delicious! It’s awesome how they found a use for something seemingly useless. They don’t like to waste anything here. 🙂