With as many rice recipes as there are out there, it is no surprise that rice is one of the most consumed grains on the planet. Rice originated in Asia and Africa thousands of years ago, but today it is cultivated on every continent except Antarctica, with 90 percent of the world's crop currently produced in Asia. With its high nutritional value, more than two-thirds of the world's population relies on rice as a dietary staple.Though many people see rice as a rather bland side dish, it is actually a healthy grain and a valuable part of a balanced diet. With approximately 100 calories per half-cup serving, it is free of fat, cholesterol, and sodium. Rice is easily digestible, making it suitable for all ages and individuals with sensitive digestive systems and its naturally mild flavor is a suitable complement to many dishes.
Types of Rice
There are several different types you can use in your rice recipes. While they can generally be used interchangeably, it should be noted that cooking times and techniques may vary, and recipes are usually composed with one type of rice in mind (as noted with the ingredients). Types of rice include:
- White Rice: The most common variety, white rice is dehulled and milled. To replace nutrients lost in processing, white rice is often artificially enriched. Sometimes referred to as instant rice, this form is typically precooked and popular in many rice recipes.
- Rough Rice: The kernels have not been processed or dehulled.
- Wild Rice: Not truly rice, these seeds grow on a coarse aquatic grass related to the rice plant. They have a rich, nutty flavor often considered a delicacy, and feature in North American and Chinese cuisine.
- Brown Rice: Brown rice has had its outer husks removed, but not the inner bran, thereby retaining many of the nutrients available in the grain. Also known as semigreggio to Italian cooks.
- Aborio Rice: This starchy, medium grained rice is best for risotto and features prominently in Italian cuisine.
- Basmati Rice: A fragrant, long-grained white rice, Basmati is common in Indian and Nepalese cuisine.
- Jasmine Rice: Long-grained and fragrant, Jasmine rice gives Thai cuisine a slightly nutty flavor.
- Sticky Rice: Also known as glutinous rice, this short grained Asian rice cooks up to be sticky with a slightly sweet flavor. It is used in many Asian cuisines.
Recipes that Use Rice
Rice recipes range from a simple side dish like rice pilaf to a spectacular main course like risotto. Rice plays a key role in cuisines around the world, including:
This versatile ingredient has found its way into virtually every meal of the day, as well as being featured prominently in every course from soup to dessert.
Rice Recipe Tips
Rice recipes will vary in how you are to prepare the rice. In some instances, rice can be boiled, soaked, or steamed via microwave, stovetop, or specialized cookers. Dry rice triples in size when cooked, so take care to choose an appropriately sized container for preparation. Rice does not need to be rinsed or washed prior to cooking - indeed, washing enriched rice may remove the added nutrients and diminish the nutritional value. To prevent steam from escaping, always cook rice while covered and fluff with a fork or slotted spoon when finished. To make less sticky rice, sauté the grains briefly in butter before adding the liquid. To reheat cooked rice, add a tablespoon or two of additional liquid.