Tuesday, 6 May 2008

It's estimated that more than half the world's population subsists wholly or partially on rice. We find out more about this dietary staple.

The Basics

  • Rice is the seed that comes from cereal grass. Depending on how it’s processed, you get brown rice (only the husk is removed), converted rice (parboiled and then milled) or white rice (milled and then polished).

  • Regardless of processing, rice comes in three different grain types:

    • Long-grain rice is the most commonly used. It’s usually 4-5 times longer than wide, and when cooked properly, it’s fluffy and dry, with grains that don’t clump.

    • Medium-grain rice is about 2 times longer than wide, is moister than long-grain when cooked, and so is a bit stickier. It’s popular in Mexican and Caribbean cooking.

    • Short-grain rice is almost oval in shape and has the highest starch content of the three. Its sticky texture makes it clump together when cooked. It’s popular in Asian cooking.

  • Converted rice has been soaked and steamed under pressure to force nutrients lost during processing back into the grain. It can take a little longer to cook, but the grains tend to be very fluffy and separate easily.

  • A healthier choice is brown rice instead of white. Brown has undergone less processing, while white rice is stripped of its outer husk which has nutritional qualities. Brown does take a bit longer to cook, however.

  • Some white rices now have nutrients added. Look for a brand with added vitamins and minerals such as thiamine  niacin and iron.

Some Varieties of rice include:

  • Basmati has an aromatic, nutty fragrance and buttery flavour, popular in Indian cooking. White basmati rice is also natural, so hasn’t undergone as much processing as other white rices.

  • Jasmine is a popular long-grain rice use in Thai cooking for its soft texture and similar flavour to Basmati.
  • Arborio, a small, starchy round grain, used in Greek and Italian cooking

    • Buy arborio rice in the packaged grain section of your health food or grocery store.

    • It is also sold in bulk at many health food stores.

    • When buying bulk arborio rice, look for intact kernels that aren’t broken, scratched, or damaged.&

    • Store uncooked rice in a cool, dry area in a sealed glass or plastic container, away from the open air and moisture.

    • White arborio rice is the most common type available. It comes in brown too, but the texture is not as creamy.

    • Don’t rinse Arborio rice as this will wash off the starch that gives it a creamy consistency.


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