Everything I Know About Rice

May 31, 2019 | Cooking Tips


Rice is a staple food for billions of people around the world. In terms of actual human consumption, it is the largest food crop on the planet. But, what do we actually know about it?

In North America, we are generally only exposed to a handful of rice varieties and so in the interest of actually getting this post done today, I am going to mostly stick within the confines of what we actually use. Let’s get to it.

This is…

Everything I Know About Rice


Types Of Rice

Rice is generally broken down into three categories: Long grain, medium grain, and short grain.

Long Grain Rice


Long grain is the most common category of rice in North America. It includes basmati, jasmine, and many others. It is generally agreed that long grain rice is four times as long as it is wide. So, if you have some rice and aren’t sure if it is long grain or not bust out that ruler and check.

Cooking Long Grain Rice

I suggest that whenever you buy rice you read the cooking instructions on the bag or box that it came in. Different brands suggest different cooking procedures even for the same type of rice.

Long grain rice is generally cooked with either a 2:1 ratio or a 1.5:1 ratio of liquid to rice. Typically, the liquid is brought to a boil over high heat. The rice is added, the temperature is turned down and a lid is put on the pot. This is left to cook for 15-20 minutes depending on the rice. After the initial time has passed the rice is removed from the heat and left to rest with the lid on for another 5-10 minutes.

Another less common technique for cooking long grain rice is the pasta method. This is where rice is added to a large pot of boiling water and boiled like pasta. Once the rice is cooked the water is drained. The problem with this method is that it is very easy to overcook the rice. Another problem is that a lot of nutrients are being dumped out with the water. This makes this method less than ideal.

Soaking or Rinsing Long Grain

Rinsing or soaking long grain rice is a practice that is much more common in Asia than it is in North America. I don’t even usually do it.

Soaking the rice will reduce the cooking time but it can also complicate the ratio of water to rice. As the rice soaks it is absorbing liquid, so the amount of liquid it is being cooked in has to be reduced. However, it can be difficult to gauge just how much water should be removed from the recipe.

Rinsing removes excess starch from the rice. This makes the finished rice less sticky yielding a fluffier texture. To rinse the rice place it in a sieve and run it under cold water until the water runs clear. Let it drain for about 20 minutes before cooking it.

Medium and Short Grain Rice


I am grouping medium and short grain rice together because they are commonly mixed up anyway. It isn’t really easy to tell the difference between the two. Depending on the source of the information arborio rice, commonly used for risotto may be classified as a medium or short grain variety. The same is true of bomba rice used to make paella. This lack of distinction can make buying rice confusing so we’re just going to put them together.

Short and medium grain rice has a higher starch content than long grain rice. This can make it sticky like sushi rice, or creamy like risotto. Short grain rice is typically used in sweet applications like in rice pudding or sweet coconut rice.

Medium grained rices are typically consumed in South East Asia.

Cooking Short and Medium Grain

It is next to impossible for me to give you exact cooking instructions of all medium and short grain rice because there are just too many. But, I will talk about two specifically, arborio or risotto rice, and sticky or sushi rice.

Sushi rice is typically cooked in a similar fashion to long grain rice. The only difference is time. Rather than 15-20 minutes, sushi rice is generally only simmered for 12 minutes and then left to sit for 5 minutes. When making sushi a mixture of seasoned rice vinegar and sugar is added to the rice after it is cooked to sour it slightly.

When making risotto with arborio rice it is cooked slowly with the liquid being added and absorbed in stages. The rice is also being stirred to draw starch out of the grains and make the risotto creamy.

Par-boiled

Par-boiled rice is rice that has been soaked, steamed, and dehydrated. This speeds up the cooking time but destroys the quality of the rice. I generally recommend staying away from this stuff. Rice doesn’t really that long to cook. The benefits of par-boiled rice do not outweigh the costs.

Conclusion

There is so much more to know about rice that is actually kind of crazy. If you want to learn more I suggest check out the great resources I listed below.

Also, remember to check out last week’s “Everything I know about…” post if you missed it. And, subscribe to the blog in the sidebar so you never miss a post again.

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