A Word Or Two About Rice

Remember when rice came in just two flavors?  Brown or white?  And brown rice wasn’t an option in my house.  What I remember is brown rice just took too long and had no flavor at all.  Oh, the variety of options today and the many different ways to cook rice

Wikipedia states “…rice is the most important staple food for a large part of the world’s human population…..it is the second highest worldwide production…providing more than one fifth of the calories consumed worldwide by the human species.  In early 2008, some governments and retailers began rationing supplies of the grain due to fears of a global rice shortage.”  Do you remember that?  We now know there are more varities of this grain available to us than just from the “Uncle”.  The increase in selections of rice opens us up to a larger variety of dishes and international cooking.   Each rice has a different cooking time, so be sure to read your directions.  You can also rinse to remove any starch or excess residue that can cause the rice to turn out sticky.  Cook with a heavy bottom pot to give the rice a thinner crust.  Do not add salt or butter as it will kill its natural sweet flavor.  Rice kept for too long in the cupboard may require more water and longer cooking time because of losing some of its moisture.  Soaking the rice in cold water will give it a softer, fluffier texture.  Saving any leftover rice is great for making fried rice.  However, try to avoid using instant or precooked rice.

Let’s start with an explanation of types of rice:

Arborio:  An Italian short-grain rice that is used for risotto because of its high starch content.  This makes it creamy and thick when it is cooked.  This rice can be used for crispy Italian rice balls.  I used to love it when my Mom cooked Risotto.  I knew it was a special night because that yellow powder was so expensive.  There’s a great Mushroom Risotto recipe here: http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/mushroom_risotto/

Basmati:  This fragrant, fluffy and light rice is grown in the Himalayan foothills and is a standard in Indian cooking.  Jasmine and basmati rice can be used in sweet desserts and also fried rice.  Soaking this rice helps the rice expand to maximum length.  Drain thoroughly.

Bhutanese Red:  Similar to brown rice, this chewy short-grain rice is reddish in color and can be used in any recipe that calls for brown rice.

Brown:  White rice is polished to remove the bran coating, but brown rice has a nutty flavor that is a whole grain and high in fiber.  It can be sticky when cooked.  Read your directions.  Most brown rices should be soaked overnight.  Can be used in pudding, risottto, burgers and desserts.  It is high in fiber and B-group vitamins.

Jasmine:  This long-grain rice has a light and slightly floral flavor and aroma with a nutty flavor.  Perfect for Asian dishes with curry and seafood. 

Short-Grain White Rice:  Very flavorful.  Especially good when a creamy texture or stickiness is desired.  You can soak this grain for 20 minutes to relax it.  Use one part rice to one and 1/8 part water. 

Sushi:  This sweet, sticky short-grain rice is used in desserts and in risottos.

Texmati:  This rice is American grown cross between basmati and long-grain white rice and is light and fluffy.  It has a more neutral flavor than basmati rice.

Wehani:  This California created cousin of basmati, splits when cooked and makes a luscious choice for soups and casseroles.

 Now on to a recipe for Jasmine Rice Pudding….

1 14-oz can of low-fat sweetened condensed milk

4 Tblspns. toasted cocoa nibs

3 Large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup cooked jasmine rice

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Bring your condensed milk and 1 cup water to simmer.  Add cocoa and remove from the heat.  Let stand for 20 minutes.  Strain the mixture into a bowl and save the nibs for later. Whisk the eggs and vanilla into the milk and cocoa.  Stir in the rice and divide into 8 1/2 cup ramekins.  Put your ramekins in a roasting pan and fill with hot water up to halfway up the side of the dishes. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the hot ramekins  and cool. Sprinkle with the nibs.

There you go.  A great start to something new tonight for dinner.  Enjoy the day!

 

 

 

 

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    Good overview on the flavors of rice. I think so many people tend to think of this as a bland food, that it’s nice to know some real variety does exist.