While man cannot live on rice alone, rice is a good source of carbohydrate and provides a small amount of vegetable protein. In general, enriched rice is a good source of B vitamins, such as thiamin and niacin, and also provides some iron, phosphorus, magnesium and folate. Brown rice, which has only the outer hull removed, retains many vitamins and minerals, including niacin, vitamin B6, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and even some vitamin E. Wild rice has more protein than either brown or white rice and also supplies good amounts of potassium, zinc, folate and fiber.
Note: The vitamin and mineral enrichment for milled rice is applied as a coating. This is why it is not recommended that rice be rinsed before cooking or cooked in excessive amounts of water. Too much water will wash away the nutrients.
Rice can be classified according to size, how it's been processed or variety.
Long-grain rice are four to five times longer than they are wide. When cooked they are fluffy and dry with separate grains.
Medium-grain rice is about twice as long as it is wide and cooks up moister and more tender than long-grain. It is popular in some Asian and Latin American cultures, and is the type of rice most commonly processed to make cold cereals.
Short-grain rice is oval or round in shape. Of the three types of rice, it has the most starch that makes it sticky, or clump together, when cooked. It is ideal for dishes such as sushi.
Enriched rice: has thiamin, niacin and iron added after milling to replace some of the nutrients lost when the bran layer is removed.
Converted rice: has been soaked and steamed under pressure before milling. This forces some of the nutrients into the remaining portion of the grain so that some are retained during processing. Converted rice takes a little longer to cook than regular rice, but the grains will be very fluffy and separate easily.
Instant white rice: has been milled and polished, fully cooked and then dehydrated. It is usually enriched but does not have the superior taste and texture of regular rice.
Talc-coated or glacé rice: is white rice that has a coating of talc and glucose that acts as a preservative and gives it a glossy appearance.
Arborio: A starchy white rice, almost round in shape. Traditionally used for cooking Italian risotto. It also works well for paella and rice pudding. Arborio absorbs up to five times its weight in liquid that results in grains of a creamy consistency.
Aromatic rice: Primarily long-grain varieties that have a toasty, nutty fragrance and a flavor similar to popcorn or roasted nuts.
Basmati: The most famous aromatic rice is grown in Indian and Pakistan. Delicate and almost buttery in flavor, the grains elongate much more than they plump as they cook. Can be substituted for regular white rice in any recipe.
Brown: Rice that has only the outer hull removed. Because the bran is not milled away, brown rice contains more nutrients as well as four times the insoluble fiber found in white rice.
Camarague Red Rice: From the south of France, this rice is relatively expensive and favored for its flavor and firm texture. The grains are covered by a red husk.
Glutinous, sticky or sweet rice: Long-grain rice with a very high starch content. Suitable for Chinese dishes of shaped rice, such as rice balls or sticky rice cakes.
Jasmine, perfumed or Thai fragrant: A traditional long-grain white rice grown in Thailand. It has a soft texture and is similar in flavor to basmati rice. It is also grown in the United States where it is available in both white and brown forms.
Texmati: A type of rice that has been developed to approximate the flavor and texture of the more expensive basmati.
Wehani: An American-grown aromatic rice, it has an unusual rust-colored bran that makes it turn mahogany when cooked.
Wild pecan (popcorn rice): A basmati hybrid, this aromatic rice is tan in color with a pecan-like flavor and firm texture.
Other rice products
- Flaked rice
- Popped or expanded rice
- Puffed rice and rice cakes
- Rice drinks (i.e. Japanese sake, rice milk)
- Rice oil
- Rice semolina, ground rice and rice flour
- Rice wine and rice wine vinegar
- Rice bran
BuyingLook for packages or boxes that are clean and undamaged. Because brown rice and rice bran contain natural oils, both can turn rancid on the shelf. Check for usability/use by dates on packages. When buying in bulk, choose a store that has a high turnover.
StoringMilled rice (white, parboiled or pre-cooked) will keep almost indefinitely in a cool pantry. Once opened, rice should be stored in a tightly-closed container to keep out moisture and other contaminants. Brown rice can be kept up to 6 months in a cool place. For longer shelf life, store in the refrigerator. Cooked rice should be cooled quickly for storing. Keep for up to 7 days in a covered container in the refrigerator.
If using imported rice or rice purchased in bulk, spread it on a clean tea towel and pick it over, removing any defective grains or debris. Rinse bulk and imported rice such as basmati or jasmine, since they may be dirty or dusty. In general, they are not enriched so there is no risk of washing away extra nutrients.
Rice is cooked in a variety of ways throughout the world, but simmering or steaming is the most common method in North America. Rice can be cooked in liquids other than water such as broth, fruit juice or tomato juice. However, be aware that acid ingredients will lengthen the cooking time. When using acidic liquids, such as fruit or vegetable juice, dilute it to at least half strength with water.
For best results, always follow package directions. Below are general guidelines from the USA Rice Federation when package directions are not available.
|1 cup uncooked rice||Liquid|| Cooking Time
|Regular-milled long grain||1-3/4 cups||15 minutes||3 to 4 cups|
|Regular-milled medium grain||1-1/2 cups||15 minutes||3 cups|
|Regular-milled short grain||1-1/4 cups||15 minutes||3 cups|
|Brown||2-1/4 cups||45 to 50 minutes||3 to 4 cups|
|Parboiled||2 cups||20 to 25 minutes||3 to 4 cups|
Stovetop: Combine 1 cup rice, liquid (see chart), 1 tsp salt (optional), and 1 tbsp butter or margarine (optional) in 2- to 3- quart (8-12 cup) saucepan. Heat to boiling; stir once or twice. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for time specified. If rice is not quite tender or liquid is not absorbed, replace lid and cook 2 to 4 minutes longer. Fluff with fork.
Oven: Combine rice, liquid (use boiling) and other desired ingredients in a baking dish or pan; stir. Cover tightly and bake at 350ÃŒÅ F for 25 to 30 minutes for regular white; 30 to 40 minutes for parboiled; 1 hour for brown. Fluff with fork.
Microwave: Combine rice, liquid and other desired ingredients in 2- to 3-quart (8-12 cup) deep microwave baking dish. Cover and cook on high for 5 minutes or until boiling. Reduce to medium and cook 15 minutes for regular white; 20 minutes for parboiled; 30 minutes for brown. Fluff with fork.
Rice Cookers: For best results, carefully follow individual manufacturers' directions. In general, rice cookers use 1/4 to 1/2 cup less liquid than the stovetop method.
Tips for Perfect Rice
- Measure the amounts of rice and liquid.
- Only Basmati rice is usually soaked before cooking.
- Time cooking accurately.
- Keep lid on tightly during cooking to prevent steam from escaping.
- Rice triples in volume -- use the right size pots and pans.
- At end of cooking time, remove lid and test for doneness. If rice is not quite tender or if liquid is not absorbed, cook 2 to 4 minutes longer.
- If cooked rice is crunchy, add additional liquid, cover tightly and cook until grains are tender.
- When rice is cooked, fluff with fork or slotted spoon to allow steam to escape and to keep the grains separate.
- If more separate grains are desired, sautÃ¯Â¿Â½ rice in small amount of butter before cooking. Add liquid and cook as directed.
- If drier rice is desired, fluff it then cover the pan again and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes
Due to its mild flavor and desirable texture, rice is a very versatile food. Some classic rice dishes include: rice pilaf (rice cooked in stock with onions and other seasonings), rice pudding, risotto, paella, dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with ground lamb, rice, onion, currants, pine nuts and various seasonings) and rice croquettes (cooked rice blended with egg and cheese, coated with bread crumbs and cornmeal and deep fried).
Easy Ways to Eat More Rice Everyday:
- Leftover rice pudding and a piece of fresh fruit make an unusual but tasty start to the morning.
- Be adventurous and add some rice milk to your milkshakes and smoothies.
- Any kind of rice salad makes a healthy mid-day meal.
- Toss leftover rice into vegetable or other broth and cream based canned soups.
- Mix cooked rice with any combination of legumes and beans, then add a light vinaigrette or some light mayonnaise for instant rice salad.
- Serve chili con carne over fluffy white rice for a warm and satisfying dish.
- Use a mixture of cooked rice, spices and vegetables to stuff tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers or chicken breasts.
- Serve stir-fries over fragrant jasmine rice for a change of pace.
- Roll sticky rice into sushi.
- Try a creamy risotto featuring your favorite vegetables or fresh shellfish.
- Have rice more often as a side dish with grilled meats and fish.
- For special occasions, sample paella -- a Spanish dish of saffron-flavored rice combined with a variety of meats and shellfish, garlic, onions, peas, artichoke hearts and tomatoes.
- Instead of potatoes, use rice in baked dishes such as Chicken and Rice Casserole.
- Add puffed or crispy rice to trail or party mixes.
- Add nuts, peanut butter, raisins or other dried fruit to crispy rice treats for added nutrition.
- Top rice cakes with peanut butter or cheese.
Did you know?
- Wild rice is not really a true rice, but the seed of a grass from a completely different botanical family.
- Rice paddies are flooded with water for most of the growing season to prevent weed growth.
FYI: Rice grown in North America doesn't require rinsing before cooking. This just rinses away nutrients. However, you should rinse imported rice, such as basmati or jasmine or rice sold in bulk in open barrels or bins.
For More Information:
- California Rice Commission - www.calrice.org
- International Rice Research Institute - www.irri.org
- Rice Gourmet - www.ricegourmet.com
- Rice Web - www.riceweb.org
- USA Rice Federation - Rice Day Café - www.ricecafe.com
- On Rice by Rick Rodgers, Chronicle Books, 1997.
- Rice: The Amazing Grain by Marie Simmons, Henry Holt & Co., 1991.
- Seductions of Rice by Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid, Artisan, 1998.