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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Understanding different types of rice

A while back, I wrote about different pasta shapes. Today, I want to share with you some information about the different types of Rice that you see on the shelves. You will find almost as many different types of rice as you do pasta shapes.

There is a bigger difference between types of pasta shapes and varieties rices. Most of the pasta you find will have the same flavor and aroma. That’s not the case with rices. They come in different sized grains, taste and aromas. With all of these differences, which rice should you use? Hopefully the following information will help guide you.

The most common types of rices are Long and Medium-Grain rice. These varieties are the most used types in America. Long-grain rice, when cooked, separates into fluffy individual grains. The medium-grain variety tends to stick together a bit. These rices are the most processed and retains the fewest nutrients, since the husk are removed before processing.

Par Boiled rice is often misunderstood as pre cooked rice. The rice is processed in its husk by soaking, steaming and drying the rice. The nutrients from the husk are absorbed into the grain before it is removed. Par Boiled rice is less sticky that regular white rice.

Brown rice comes in short or long grain varieties. It has been milled to remove the outer husk but retains its bran layer. This allows it to retain its nutrients. It tends to be chewier than white rice with a slightly nutty flavor. You can use any of these three types of rice interchangeably.

Arborio rice is an Italian short grain rice. It is often used in risotto since it can absorb liquid and flavor over slow cooking. This gives you a creamy texture with a chewy core.

Sushi Rice is a short grain Japanese rice. It has a high starch content which creates the stickiness needed to make sushi. In Japan, chefs learning the art of sushi must first master the cooking of the sushi rice. It can often take up to three years before an apprentice graduates to making sushi from cooking the rice.

Basmati and Jasmine rice are often used interchangeably. They are both aromatic and often used in Middle Eastern and Indian dishes. Basmati rice is extremely fragrant, which gets its robust flavor from an aging process that takes up almost a year after harvesting. You should soak Basmati for 30 minutes before cooking to allow the grains to absorb the water and cook evenly without breaking.

Jasmine rice has a floral aroma. It is a long grain rice that cooks up soft and slightly sticky. The grains are shorter and thicker than Basmati. Before cooking Jasmine, you will want to wash it to remove the dust and excess starch.

Wild Rice is actually a grass grown in wetland areas. When cooked, the skin splits open and the grain curls up to reveal a white interior, resulting in its unique texture. Commonly found in the upper Great Lakes region of the U.S., wild rice is not commonly found in Asian cooking.

Texmati rice combines the qualities of Basmati and Long-Grain rice. It is said to have a nutty flavor and a popcorn aroma. I was hoping that it would be a replacement to my favorite type of rice, Louisiana Popcorn rice. It did not have as much of the flavor and aroma that I was hoping for. I guess I will continue to bring Popcorn rice back from New Orleans.

How about a recipe? I love to make enchiladas at home, but they need a side dish. I found a recipe that I adjusted to my liking. I have been told by my wife that she likes it better than the rice she gets in restaurants locally. However, I think she is a little biased.

Mexican Rice

3 tablespoons Canola Oil

1 cup uncooked Long-Grain Rice

1 teaspoon Granulated Garlic

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1/2 teaspoon ground Cumin

1/4 cup Onion, chopped

1/2 cup Tomato Sauce

2 cups Chicken Stock

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add rice. Cook, stirring constantly, until puffed and golden. While rice is cooking sprinkle with garlic, salt and cumin. When puffed, stir in onions and cook until tender. Stir in tomato sauce and chicken stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.

Of course, there are plenty of rice found here in Arkansas. You will never go wrong with any of the locally grown rices.

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