I have received several questions and emails after my last Ask The Reader’s question about rice.
Many of you are like me and keep quite a few varieties in your kitchen, but others of you keep it basic with just a long grain white or brown rice.
Several of you asked if there was really that much of a difference in the varieties of rice. And my answer is yes, there is a big difference in the various types and varieties of rice.
I like variety in my food and rice is no different. Rice is inexpensive to serve. It is a staple in many kitchens, but rice can often become boring and tiring after awhile.
But it is so easy to vary the taste and texture of a basic dish by using a different variety of rice. Yes, basmati rice costs a little more than a basic long grain rice, but overall it is still less expensive than many other foods.
I like to vary what rice I serve. I often serve Asian type dishes and stir fry with either regular long grain rice or a jasmine rice, but in a dish that contains spices with an more of an Indian flavor I prefer Basmati rice.
We really like Jasmine rice for breakfast or even in rice pudding.
My husband loves short grain rice with just about anything. He prefers the sticky texture of it, but I do not like to use short grain rice in things like fried rice because the sticky texture changes the dish too much. In a fried rice you want to rice grains to be separate and not stick together and a long grain rice works better.
Now this does not mean that you can not use regular long grain rice for everything. Nor does it mean that you can never use a basmati rice in a stir fry, but it does mean that the unique flavors and textures of the various rices will give you different results.
Today I thought I would give a brief description of the various type of rice that I keep on hand and what I like to use them for.
There are thousands of varieties of rice and I can not cover them all, but this covers the most common varieties available in most local grocery stores.
Arborio Rice- An Italian short grain rice used to make risotto. It has a high starch content that helps give risotto it’s creamy texture.
Basmati Rice- A long grain fragrant rice. It has a stronger flavor and fragrance than a regular long grain rice. It is grown mainly in India and Pakistan. (I love using basmati in my cilantro lime rice.)
Brown Rice- Many varieties of rice come in a brown version. Brown rice means that the bran layers remain intake. Brown rice is considered healthier because it is a whole grain.
Instant Rice- Partially cooked and dehydrated rice. This helps the rice cook quickly with very little water. Because it is precooked it looses much of its flavor and nutrition. Companies often add these back into the rice to make up for what it loses in the cooking process.
Jasmine Rice- A long grain Thai rice with a unique scent and taste. It is often used Thai cooking. I like to serve Jasmine Rice for breakfast with eggs. (I will post the recipe soon.)
Long Grain Rice- Rice that is thinner and longer than a short grain rice. It tends to be a drier and fluffier rice than a short or medium grain rice. Long grain rice is a very versatile rice and works well in dishes like fried rice.
Parboiled Rice- Rice that has been boiled in the husk, therefore it is healthier than most white rice.
Short Grain Rice- A rice that is a shorter grain fatter rice. It is a much stickier than a long grain rice. It works well in dishes where rice needs formed like a sushi. We also like to use it for breakfast and many other Asian type dishes.
Texmati Rice- A cross between an American long grain rice and a basmati rice. This rice is mainly grown in Texas and can be used in similar ways that you would use regular long grain rice or basmati rice.
White Rice- Rice that has had the husk and bran removed. White rice lacks many of its natural nutrients. It is often enriched with vitamins and minerals to make up for the loss of these nutrients.
If you have never tried some of these varieties I hope this encourages you to branch out and give them a try.