Kinds of Rice
Rice is high in complex carbohydrates, contains almost no fat, is cholesterol free, and is low in sodium, unless you add salt to the cooking water. It is a staple in any kitchen, and with so many different types, it lends itself to a limitless number of recipes. Before you add the same type of rice to every recipe you prepare, however, think twice. Substituting one type of rice for another can really alter the result of a recipe. Why? It is because each type of rice has its own taste, texture, and unique properties that work well with different cooking applications. So how do you know which one to choose? Rice comes in different kinds based on the length and shape, texture and aroma.
Based on Length and Shape
Rice is often characterized as one of three varieties – long grain, medium grain, or short grain rice. These varieties refer to the length and shape of the grain. Simply speaking, long grain rice will have a longer cylindrical shape, whereas short grain rice will be shorter and wider.
Long Grain Rice
This rice has milled grains that are at least three to four times as long as they are wide. Due to its starch composition, it is separate, light and fluffy when cooked.
Medium Grain Rice
When compared to long grain rice, medium grain rice has a shorter, wider kernel. Since the cooked grains are moister and tender than long grain rice, the rice has a greater tendency to stick together.
Short Grain Rice
Featuring grains that are less than twice as long as they are wide, this rice is short and best for sushi. It has a sticky texture when cooked.
Based on Texture
When cooking rice dishes, you’ll want to think about the desired texture of the rice. The starch content varies from rice type to rice type. It will affect whether rice is sticky or light and fluffy.
This is also known as sweet rice, sticky rice is grown mainly in Southeast and East Asia and is used in many traditional Asian dishes, desserts, and sweets. When cooked, sticky rice is especially sticky and is often ground into rice flour.
This “rough” rice has gone through a steam-pressure process before milling that gelatinizes the starch in the grain. This process produces a more separate grain that is light and fluffy when cooked. Converted rice is a type of parboiled rice that has been further pre-cooked, which ultimately allows you to whip up dishes of rice even faster.
Based on Colour
Rice is naturally brown after harvesting, but once the nutrient-rich outer layer of bran is removed, it is white in colour. Red rice, black rice, and purple rice all feature unique pigmentation in the bran. For these colourful rice varieties, the bran layer usually remains for added visual appeal and added nutritional value.
The term “polished” simply refers to white rice that has had its outer brown layer of bran and germ removed. Rice that has shed its bran layers can also be referred to as “milled rice.”
This healthful rice sheds its outer husk and retains its bran and germ layers that give it a characteristic tan colour. Though brown rice takes a little longer to cook than white rice, the nutrient-dense layers are rich in vitamins and minerals.
High in nutritional value, this rice is also known as black rice and has a mild nutty flavor. Slightly sticky when cooked, it is used in a variety of Chinese or Thai dishes, including Chinese black rice cake and mango sticky rice. Mix it with white rice, and it also adds color to any rice pilaf or rice bowl.
Wild rice grains are harvested from the genus Zizania of grasses. High in protein, wild rice adds a colourful, exotic flair to any rice dish. Serve it with stir fries, mushroom soups, or casseroles for something new.
Based on Aroma
Aroma is another factor to consider when cooking with rice. Certain rice varieties give off pleasing fragrances while being cooked. Add a sensory element to your guests’ dining experience with these rice types.
Basmati rice is a type of long-grain rice that is popular among Indian cuisine and other ethnic dishes. Cooked basmati rice imparts a subtle nutty or popcorn-like flavor and aroma.
Jasmine rice, sometimes known as Thai fragrant rice, is a type of long grain rice with a long kernel and slightly sticky texture when cooked. Use it to infuse a subtle jasmine flavour and aroma into your dishes.