May 292012
 

There are a few cooking activities that seem more like black magic than skills that become easy with practice. Think of cooking rice and you may picture soggy mush or severely burnt grains stuck to the bottom of a pan (that will be so hard to get clean you might as well throw it out).

Mount of cooked white rice.

Well-cooked white rice courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/sarae/

Of course, we’re here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way. This is a two-part article, so today we’re going to learn about what exactly those different rices are in the store. Read on, so you’ll know what to buy. Then we’ll teach you all about cooking it in the next article.

Take-aways:

  • The difference between white and brown rice.
  • The difference between short-grain vs. long-grain rice.
  • The difference between Jasmine, Basmati, arborio, sushi, and wild rice.
  • How instant rice is different from regular rice.

White vs. Brown

All rice starts out brown. If you peel away certain very nutritious and delicious parts of the rice, you get white rice. It’s that simple. White rice is so popular because it has a texture that’s easy to eat and cooks quickly.

Rice comes inside an inedible hull that is always removed and never eaten. If the germ and bran are also removed, what’s left is white rice. Brown rice has some fat in it so it spoils more quickly than white rice. It also takes quite a bit longer to cook, often twice as long.

The bottom line is that white rice is faster to cook and may be a little bit more palatable, but brown rice is much more nutritious and offers a deeper flavor.

Long-grain vs. short-grain

Long-grain rice is literally longer and short-grain rice is shorter relative to each other. Long-grain tends not to stick so it remains fluffy while short-grain rice releases a lot of starch so it can become creamy and sticky.

Use long-grain rice for stir-fry and when serving under some other dish, and use short-grain rice for specialty dishes like risotto or rice pudding and when you want to be able for form the rice for serving.

The Specific Types of Rice Found in a Super Market

Jasmine: This is the rice you’re most likely to get from a Chinese take-out place and it’s great served with many Thai and Chinese dishes. It’s long-grain rice with a nice aroma and is easy to cook.

Basmati: This is the most common type of rice served with Indian food. This is a very long-grained rice and the rice generally doesn’t stick together at all.

Arborio: This is a short-grained rice used for making risotto. The rice releases so much starch that it creates the creamy texture of risotto that almost resembles a sauce.

Brown: As mentioned above, all rice starts out brown. So there are brown jasmine rices, and brown basmati rices, etc. Brown rice is more nutritious and takes longer to cook. The flavor can be very good, but the texture is not always for preferred certain dishes.

Sushi: This is not a variety of rice, but rather a special way to prepare it. A short-grained rice is mixed with a little bit of vinegar and sugar which creates rice with a very slight sweet/sour flavor and molds very well for sushi preparations.

Wild: This is actually a grass, not rice, though it looks like it. Wild rice can be very colorful and it takes about twice as much water and time to cook.

What About Instant Rice?

Instant rice is pre-cooked to varying degrees, so it cooks very fast. In our opinion, it lacks much of the nice flavor and texture of fresh rice. The processing of instant rice also removes many of the nutrients found in fresh rice. To make up for the deficit, manufacturers use certain methods and additives to boost the nutrient content.

How to Cook Rice

In the next article, we’ll show you how to cook rice in both a rice cooker (easy peasy!) and a regular pot (also easy!).

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