Different Types Of Rice
In the world of grains, rice is possibly the most well-known of all. Consumed across the globe, rice comes in many different variations, textures, colors, and flavors. In fact, 50 million tons of rice have been consumed around the world in the last 5 years alone.
But what type of rice should you use for your recipes? Most recipes call for long-grain rice but you could substitute the medium-grain without any problems. Just try to stick to the rice type the recipe calls for or you may not be pleased with how it turns out.
Let’s take a look at the amazing array of different types of rice that makes up the daily diet of over 580 million people and try to make clear the differences between each strain.
First Let’s Take a Look at Long-Grain, Medium-Grain and Short-Grain Rice. Long, short and medium-grain rice isn’t a specific rice. It’s is a group of rice that share similar characteristics.
Long-Grain Rice is the most consumed variety throughout Europe and North America. Long-Grain Rice is as the name suggests, long and slim. The grains tend to remain firm and dry when cooked and does not stick together unless overly boiled.
Long-grain rice is ideal for south-east Asian-inspired cooking and is freely available in most major supermarkets around the world. Long -grain rice comes in either brown, white, Jasmine or Basmati and Texmati. Long-grain rice makes an excellent rice pilaf dish. Long-grain is one of the easiest rice varieties to cook with. Turns out a fluffier rice with very little clumping.
Medium grain rice is just a little shorter and a little wider than the long-grain rice. This rice is your typical American white rice and eaten as a side dish at many meals. Our favorite brand of white rice is the “River” brand of medium-grain rice. This is going to be slightly stickier than the long-grain rice.
Short-grain rice is about as wide as it is long. When cooked, this rice is a creamy and delicious rice. Think of Arborio rice, a short-grain white rice used in risottos. But, keep in mind, the shorter the grain, the stickier the rice. That’s why we recommend long-grain or medium-grain for most of our rice dishes.
Whole-Grain or Brown Rice
Brown rice is whole-grain rice, with the inedible outer hull removed. Still has the bran layer intact and takes twice and long to cook but is considered to be a much healthier rice. Has more fiber than white rice.
White rice is milled which means it has the hull, bran layer and cereal germ removed. Then the rice goes through another process called polishing. This is what gives the rice its bright white color but it also removes many of the nutrients found in rice. In the USA, all polished rice is required to have nutrients added back to the rice. You will see the rice labeled as “enriched” white rice. White rice comes in long, medium, and short grain.
Rice that has been steamed and pressure cooked before packaging.
Glutinous Rice (Sticky Rice)
Glutinous rice is popular in south-east Asia and is a staple for many in Thailand. The name itself is misleading as glutinous rice actually contains no gluten at all. The rice tends to be slightly rounded and has a chalky coating on it which help the rice stick together when steamed. Used for both sweet and savory dishes, sticky rice provides optimal levels of fiber and carbohydrates to help provide a nutritionally dense food. Sticky rice is never boiled and goes through a lengthy soaking process before being steamed in a bamboo steamer if sticky rice is boiled it will absorb too much water and turn into a mass much like mashed potato.
Basmati Rice (Indian Rice)
Basmati rice is the most commonly used rice throughout the Indian continent and is similar in texture and look to long grain rice. Basmati rice is commonly boiled in water with turmeric to give it a distinctive yellow color, this is also the same process used with long grain rice to give it a mildly spiced flavor for Indian cuisine. Grown in Northern India, no other rice can be labeled as basmati. This rice also ranks low on the GI Chart (Glucose Index) as it is digested and absorbed slowly compared to many other kinds of rice. This makes it a healthy alternative to standard long grain rice and helps keep blood sugar levels stable.
Often also called Brown rice, or wild rice, Red rice has a red outer husk and a brown or off-white grain. This variety of rice offers the highest levels of fiber and also provides many cholesterol and blood sugar level controlling nutrients. When cooked red rice offers up a nutty flavor and plentiful fiber. This rice has the most nutrients of all the polished rices.
Black Rice – or “Forbidden Rice”
Black rice is popular in Asia and other parts of the world, but has just recently started to gain in popularity throughout the US and Europe due to stores like “Whole Foods”and other health food stores that have worked hard to increase awareness of the many nutrient-dense foods the world has to offer.
When it comes to nutrition, black rice contains the highest amount of anthocyanin and antioxidants of any of the rice types. This rice was considered so healthy, according to legend, it was reserved to be eaten by only the Emperors of China and forbidden to anyone else.
RiceBerry Rice (Thailand)
RiceBerry Rice is officially the newest variety of rice that has been specially crossbred in Thailand to produce a naturally purple variety. The rice is crossbred between a wild long grain variety and a strain of purple glutinous rice making it soft and with a desirable aftertaste. RiceBerry offers the highest levels of antioxidants of all rice strains and has been studied as a way to control blood sugar levels in diabetics. It is also useful in the fight against cholesterol and high blood pressure and is high in vitamin E.
Risotto Rice. (Italian Rice)
Risotto rice is most commonly associated with Rissoto and paella and is widely used throughout the Mediterranean in local cuisines. Risotto rice is round and when cooked absorbs the water while retaining its shape while creating a creamy sauce. The small starch granules contained in the rice absorb water when heated and act as a thickening agent.
Arboria is possibly the most well known of the risotto varieties and can be found in grocery stores around the world. Risotto rice also tend to be at the lower end of the price range when it comes to rice, making it a delicious and economical choice for meals.
Sushi Rice (Japanese rice)
Sushi rice is similar in look texture and appearance to risotto rice but with glutinous rice properties. Used in the preparation of Japanese sushi this rice proved ample stickiness while remaining firm and slightly soft. Unlike risotto rice, Japanese Sushi rice needs to be soaked in cool water to first absorb and hydrate before being cooked. Being a short-grain rice makes Sushi rice ideal for rolling and holding its shape when finished. The rice contains little fiber and is high in carbohydrates making it a filling and nutritional meal, but places it towards the top of the GI list.
No matter the type of rice you choose, it will always prove to be an economical choice providing many delicious meals throughout the year. As rice swells when hydrated it provides a large quantity of food for a small amount of grain.
A half cup of uncooked rice can provide up to 3 cups of grain when properly cooked and also helps provide water content to the body due to the large amounts that it absorbs during the cooking process.
For even more nutrients, consider always adding adding something to your plain rice.
See our delicious Yellow Rice for an example. Or add vegetables to your rice while cooking. Onions, garlic, spices, vegetables – these all make great and healthy additions to rice.