I recently found myself staring at the different varieties of rice on the shelf at the Market and realized I didn’t fully understand how to maximize each ones’ uniqueness in the dishes that I was preparing. I did some research and would like to share what I learned with you.
- White rice: comes in short, medium and long grain. The size being the length of the grain vs the width. Long grain such as Uncle Ben’s and Carolina are 3X longer than they are wide. White rice is processed with the germ and bran removed and then polished. A medium grain rice is Arborio which is mainly grown in Italy and can be used to make risotto (see shortcut below) and rice pudding. It absorbs a lot of liquid and becomes creamy when cooked. A short grain rice is normally steamed rather than simmered with a lot of water and gets sticky when it’s cooked. A mixture of sugar, salt and rice vinegar is poured over the rice to make sushi.
- Jasmine: a long grain variety cultivated for a distinct flavor. It is known as Thai flagrant rice. It’s steamed (see method below) rather than simmered in water until it is absorbed and sticks together when it is cooked. A great rice for stir frys.
- Basmati: a little longer than a standard long grain rice and cultivated in India. Fluffy when cooked and used in currys and other Indian dishes.
- Brown rice: minimally milled so most of the bran and germ are intact. It takes longer to cook than white rice and is more nutritious.
- Wild rice: not rice at all but the seed of a grass grown primarily in North America. This is very nutritious and has a nutty flavor.
*Steaming rice. Place rice in a large saucepan of salted boiling water and boil for 10 mins. Drain rice in colander (mesh should be small so rice doesn’t come through) and rinse. Set colander over a pan of boiling water (rice should not touch water). Cover colander with a tea towel and the lid of the pan and cook until rice is tender and fluffy about 15 minutes. Make sure water in pan does not evaporate. Be careful when lifting towel as not to burn yourself.
**Making risotto in the microwave. OK I know this seems like blasphemy to an Italian and to a good cook but I pride myself in being both and this method is successful and allows you do many other things while making the risotto instead of standing over a pot stirring and stirring. Stir ½ cup finely chopped onion, 1 clove garlic minced, 2 tbl butter and 1 tbl olive oil in a microwave safe bowl. Cover and microwave on High for 3 mins. Stir in 1 cup of rice and microwave 2 minutes. Stir in 2 ¾ cups chicken or vegetable broth and ¼ cup white wine. Cover and microwave on high for 9 minutes. Carefully swirl mixture and microwave for another 8 minutes. Remove lid and mix in 1/3 cup parmesan cheese and an additional ¼ cup broth; stir for one minute until creamy. Add an additional ¼ cup broth if necessary. Add other ingredients if desired such as mashed butternut squash, roasted asparagus, etc. or just enjoy as is. Season with salt and pepper.