Ask The Chef
Will the Right Rice Please Stand Up?
Can't decide which rice to use for what purpose? No wonder, considering that there are more than 40,000 varieties of rice worldwide. Here's a quick guide to commonly available types of rice.
Arborio is a plump-grained rice that is translucent in color with a white dot at the center of the grain. It's classified as a medium-grain rice in the United States, although elsewhere it's considered a short-grain rice. Arborio is most often used in cooking risotto. This rice develops a creamy texture and maintains a degree of chewiness even when fully cooked.
Aromatic types of rice have a natural aroma and flavor similar to that of popcorn or roasted nuts. The most common aromatic rice in the US include basmati, jasmine and della.
Basmati only swells lengthwise when cooked, resulting in long, thin grains. It cooks up dry and is therefore useful in pilafs or other mixtures where separate grains are desired.
The least processed form of rice, brown rice, has the outer hull removed but still retains the bran layers that give it color and a nutty flavor. Brown rice has a longer cooking time than white rice, is chewier, and has up to three times more fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium than white rice. Quick-cooking brown rice can now be found in some grocery stores. Brown rice can be used interchangeably for white rice in most recipes.
Long-grain rice cooks up soft and moist. These long, slender kernels are four to five times longer than their width. The grains cook up separate, light and fluffy, making it ideal for use in recipes that require texture. Long-grain rice is the most popular rice in the U.S. and Canada. This rice has been milled to remove the bran, is cooked and then dehydrated before packaging. Highly processed, it is more porous, so that boiling water penetrates the grains in a shorter time making it easy to cook with.
The almost round kernels of short-grain rice cook up soft and tend to cling together. Short-grain rice is used in Japanese, Taiwanese, and some Chinese dishes and is often referred to as sticky rice.
Wild rice is actually not a rice, but the seed of a wild grass. Its chewy texture and smoky flavor make wild rice ideal for pilafs, stuffing's, and salads.
The next time you go to the local grocery store pick up a few different varieties and try them out, you may find something new your family will love.