Rice is a staple in most kitchens, but since going gluten free it has become an even bigger staple in my kitchen. It is naturally gluten free and it is inexpensive to buy which makes it perfect for gluten free eating, because you cannot say that about very many gluten free foods.
Rice is also very versatile. It can be used for breakfast, side dishes, soups, main dishes, and desserts. You can give it an Asian flavor, a Mexican flavor, or just about any other flavor that you like.
I have found that rice is on of the most useful and naturally gluten free foods in my kitchen, so today I thought we would cover a few rice facts.
There are thousands of varieties of rice and each rice cooks and tastes a little different. Different varieties of rice can give you a totally different end result in a recipe.
A long grain rice works well in stir fry because you want the long grains to separate and give you the texture you desire in fried rice, but a short grain or sticky type rice will give you a totally different result. In fact, a short grain or sticky rice, will not really be like fried rice at all, because the rice will stick together and will not fry up the same way.
In my kitchen I have at least 8 different types of rice. It is not necessary to have that many choices in your kitchen, but I have found that different rices can be a fun way to change up our meals inexpensively and without much work. A simple meal like eggs and rice can be a little more exciting when you use a short grain rice, or red or black rice in place of regular long grain rice.
So, have fun and play around with the different varieties of rice. It will make your gluten free cooking a little more interesting.
Here are a few facts about the most common varieties of rice that you will find in the US. There are thousands of varieties of rice and I cannot cover them all, but this covers the most common varieties available.
- 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 intact. Brown rice is considered healthier because it is a whole grain.
- Glutinous or Sticky Rice- Is a short grained sticky rice. It is the rice that is used to make sweet rice flour. It is often found in Asian stores. This rice does not contain gluten, although the name sounds like it might. It is also not really sweet in taste, but it does have a creamy texture and taste to it, making it perfect for sweeter or dessert type dishes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Other varieties of rice- Carolina Rice, Red Rice, Black Rice, Calrose Rice, and Sweet Rice. (These varieties of rice are common in some area of the US, but are harder to find in many areas.)
I would love to hear your favorite type of rice to use? Do you stick to a basic long grain rice or do you experiment with other kinds?