Rice is a cereal grain, and is the most widely consumed food source to over half of the world’s population. Especially in the Asian and African continents.
There are at least 120,000 varieties of rice worldwide. With so many varieties, it lends itself to an endless number of recipes.
What You Should Know About The Rice You Plate
Origins Of Rice
Rice originates in tropical lowlands, though today it is cultivated in many different regions across the world.
These regions include, many parts of Asia, northern India, Pakistan, the foothills of the Himalayas, the Middle East, Australia, North America and Spain.
How It’s Cultivated
Growing rice requires a long, warm growing season. The grain is usually grown in paddies or rice fields, which are flooded with water to keep the roots of the rice moist.
Most rice is sold white though at harvest it is brown.
White rice has been milled to remove the bran and germ, then polished.
Brown rice sold on the market contains all of its parts the bran, germ, and endosperm.
The following are the most common rice varieties found at the supplement or Asian markets.
Arborio is a medium-grain white rice that’s the most common variety used for risotto. Its grains are quite plump, which is why you’ll sometimes see it referred to as short-grain rice.
Because of its tendency to be creamy, Arborio isn’t typically served on its own as a side dish, but rather used for dishes where its texture is welcomed, such as risotto or this Mango Coconut Rice Pudding.
Cooked risotto (made with Arborio rice) will last in the refrigerator for up to five days. If the risotto contains meat, it will keep for up to three days. We don’t advise freezing risotto because the texture could become grainy.
Because of its fragrant aroma and fluffy texture, basmati is one of the more popular long-grain rices.
The grains are long and slender, and has a fluffy texture with very little stickiness.
It’s ideal for eating with Asian fried rice dishes or as a base for saucy dishes, like curries or beans and rice. Like this Chorizo & Rice with Garbanzo Beans.
Jasmine is a long-grain rice and is a favorite multi-purpose rice. You’ll find jasmine in stir-fries, congee, and rice puddings.
Brown rice contains all parts of the seed — the bran, germ, and endosperm.
There are long, medium and short-grain variations of brown rice, with the long-grain variety typically sold more often.
You can also find brown basmati and brown jasmine rice.
Give these dishes a try that are accompanied with brown rice.
Wild rice isn’t rice at all, but a rather delicious seed native to North America.
Wild rice grows in lakes, tidal rivers, and bays and has been growing in this continent for millennia. The Great Lakes region, Minnesota, and Idaho are some of the areas you’ll find this annual plant grown and harvested.
Although it cooks like rice, it takes a little longer, has a stronger flavor, and can cost a little more at the grocery store.
Some may question, if par-boiled rice isn’t a variety? Typically, no.
This process improves the texture of the rice, cuts down on cooking time, and saves some of the original vitamins and minerals found in the rice.
Cooking With The Right Rice
Another question is if it matters what size rice you cook with? Great question and yes if matters.
The grain size affects the texture of the rice, therefore long grain, medium grain, and short grain rice are all used for different cooking applications.
Long Grain Rice
Long grain white rice is most common rice used in traditional American recipes, and it’s also popular in Asian and Mexican cuisine.
Long grain is commonly used to make Asian rice bowls, pilafs, casseroles, and stir-fries.
It has a mild flavor and a lighter, fluffy texture that separates when cooked.
Medium Grain Rice
Medium grain rice is chewy, tender, and had a slightly sticky texture when cooked.
Medium grain is commonly used to make paella, side dishes and this Bacon and Spring Pea Risotto.
Short Grain Rice
Short grain rice is soft, tender, and has a sticky texture when cooked.
Short grain rice is commonly used to make sushi, poke bowls, and rice balls.
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