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Preparing a delicious bowl of rice is an absolutely essential part of Japanese cuisine, and fortunately for most amateur cooks today’s modern rice cookers have made that task as simple as pressing as button.

While these handy machines can whip up a tasty bowl of rice with little to no effort, we wanted to try out a time-consuming cooking method we learned from the popular food-themed manga Oishinbo. In it, one of the main characters painstakingly examines and sorts each grain of rice to prepare what is described as “a taste you won’t forget in 15 years.” But is all that hard work worth it?

While Oishinbo may have become more infamous lately for its controversial take on the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the well-loved manga has been running since 1983 and centers around the journalist Shiro Yamaoka and the rivalry with his father Yuzan Kaibara. It has been turned into an animated TV series and a film as well.

In the manga and anime TV series episode called “Motenashi no Kokoro,” or “A Heart of Hospitality,” readers learn of a method used by Yuzan Kaibara to make the perfect bowl of rice from even the most average ingredients. Realizing that each grain of rice, with its different shape and size, will ultimately cook unevenly, Yuzan carefully selects the grains of rice in perfect condition and with the same size. The idea is that the grains of rice will cook completely evenly and leave a smoother texture.

▼ The 6th chapter of the 4th bunkoban of Oishinbo is where Yuzan explains his rice sorting method

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Our brave rice sorter Megu got to work, preparing herself for what would surely be one of the most tedious and frustrating jobs in her life. Her mission would be to go through every grain of rice, examine each one using a set of tweezers, and find enough grains of the same size and quality to fill up two cups. To make it as easy as possible on her eyes, she used a black plate to contrast with the tiny, white grains of rice.

▼ Megu’s suited up and ready to sort until her eyes fall out

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▼ A close up of the rice sorting

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▼ A look at some of the chipped, cloudy and ultimately rejected grains of rice

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▼ A collection of some of the nice, evenly sized grains of rice

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As frustratingly slow as we imagined this process would be, it was much worse in practice. But our champion rice sorter didn’t give up and it took two hours and 10 minutes to sort through enough rice to fill up one cup. We needed two cups to be able to cook enough rice for our tasters to try, so she took a deep breath and powered through.

▼ One full cup of rice with every grain a similar size and quality

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▼Megu taking a break before beginning the second cup

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▼ Back at work, she got into her groove

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Examining and sorting rice must be a learned talent, because Megu managed to shave off quite a bit of time and “only” took an hour and 10 minutes to complete the second cup. Altogether, preparing two cups of rice using the Oishinbo method took three hours, 23 minutes and 55 seconds.

▼ Our rice fancier shows off the fruits of her more than three hours of grueling labor

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▼ The sorted rice was beautifully and perfectly even in color, shape and size

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▼ The rejected grains of rice are probably still delicious, but definitely not as uniform

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The time came to cook the rice. We sent the sorted rice to the rice cooker to see if it would produce something that would make Yuzan Kaibara proud. And we also cooked some unsorted rice to be able to compare the Oishinbo method to the far less time-consuming and more conventional rice cooking method of just scooping a cup out of the rice bag.

▼ A close up of the unsorted rice cooked and ready to eat

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▼ The sorted rice, freshly cooked and ready to be eaten to determine if it was worth the three hours, 22 minutes and 55 seconds.

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After preparing the rice, we had three eager rice fans volunteer to conduct a blind taste test. The bowls would be the same and they wouldn’t know which one was made with the grains of rice that had been sorted so meticulously.

▼ One of our three taste testers comparing the two bowls of rice

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All three of the tasters easily identified the sorted rice, which they said was absolutely delicious. Because all of the grains of rice were the exact same size and evenly cooked, the texture was incredibly smooth and the rice seemed to almost melt in your mouth. Everyone agreed that rice of this degree of perfection deserved to be eaten on its own to fully appreciate the delicate taste.

▼ An even closer look at the sorted rice that made our taste-testers swoon

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Sure, this took an obscenely long amount of time and probably caused a huge amount of strain on poor Megu’s eyes, but the taste of the sorted rice was unbelievably delicious. It might not be practical to do every day, but if you really love rice, you might want to try this once in your life. If you try the Oishinbo method, let us know and check out the video below to see more of the rice sorting and tasting.

Video: RocketNews24

All images: RocketNews24
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