Rice

Rice Facts

Rice is the grain of the Oryza sativa (Asian rice) or Oryza glaberrima (African rice).

It is the most important staple diet for a large part of the world’s  population, especially in Asia and the Africa. It is the grain with the third-highest worldwide production, after corn and wheat. We have all been introduced to the glories of rice and grown up eating some kind  of rice dish:

Rice is the most important grain with regard to human nutrition and caloric intake, providing more than one fifth of the calories consumed worldwide.

There are multiple strains of rice and cooling methods have a propensity to differ region to region

For example in the Near East and India, rice is cooked in such a way as the grains are all separate  while in the Asia proper the preference is for softer, stickier varieties. Rice has significant cultural importance in some parts of the world as the giver of life e.g., in Bali there are gods and ceremonies celebrating the harvest and production of rice.  In India rice is first referred to in ancient Sanskrit texts and is frequently connected with fortune and fertility, i.e. the custom of throwing rice at weddings.

There are more than 40,000 varieties of rice generally falling into one of three categories:

Short-, medium-, and long-grain. The differences contribute to the  diverse cooking styles and taste.

Arborio
This popular Italian rice is used to make risotto. When cooked in this method the rice remains firm to the bite (al dente), while the rest of is soft  and the high starch contends creates a creaminess. Once grown exclusively in the Po valley of Italy, Arborio is now also grown in the US and Australia. Other Italian rice used to make risotto are carnaroli and vialone nano.

Basmati
A delicate long-grain variety of rice highly favoured for its fragrance, taste, and slender shape.   Basmati is almost exclusively grown in India and Pakistan and isa staple of Indian and Near Eastern cuisine.

Black Rice
Both medium- and short-grain, this rice is grown mostly in Southeast Asia.  The color comes  from the black bran that surrounds the  rice kernel turning, when cooked, to an attractive purple. Black Rice is used mainly in the preparation of sweet and sticky Asian desserts and puddings. Look for Black Japonica or Forbidden Rice.

Brown Rice
Rice with the surrounding bran intact, giving a chewy texture and nutty flavour. This rice type contains the most vitamins, minerals, and fibre.  It requires a longer cooking time because the bran is a barrier to water.

Glutinous Rice
Sticky rice is a staple of many South East Asian menus. The rice is cooked or steamed to produce a sticky and pleasant texture. This type od rice is ideal for picking up in the hand, forming into a ball and dipping into the sauces or curries. Especially popular in Esan (North Eastern) Thai cooking styles.

Jasmine
Perfumed and delicious, Thailand’s quintessential rice.  A long grained and delicate rice with the distinct Jasmine aroma. A must to accompany any Thai style dish.

Parboiled
Par-cooked rice that is sold in commercially flavoured packages e.g. Uncle Ben’s. It takes only a few minutes to prepare and is firm and stays separate when cooked.

Red
This Fragrant rice with reddish-brown bran and a nutty earthy flavor with  a chewy texture.

Look for Bhutanese Red Rice and Camargue (imported from France’s Provence region). Red rice is ideal with hearty foods like braised meats or roasted vegetables.

Sushi
This short-grain sticky rice is glassy and smooth. It grows throughout Asia and in California.

Wild
The only grain native to North America, this is actually an aquatic grass. It’s often sold mixed with long-grain white rice.

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