Rice is the third most produced grain in the world and the number one grain consumed by humans. Almost all rice comes from Asia. This gluten-free seed can be ground into flour and made into drinks or noodles. About a third of American consumption is used to make beer. Because rice is an incomplete protein, you must combine it with beans, nuts, other seeds, or meat.
The length of a grain of rice is important because it often determines its stickiness and therefore its use in particular dishes. Longer beans are less sticky and great in curries. Medium and short grains are stickier, are used to bind sushi, and are good in pilaf, paella, and casserole dishes. Short grain rice is used for puddings and cereals.
Soaking and rinsing rice before cooking is generally not recommended. Soaking makes it a more complete protein and reduces its stickiness, but at a cost. It makes the starch release faster and the rice does not thicken. The exception is brown rice. You can soak it overnight and reduce the cooking time by ten minutes. For rinsing, the exception is with the basmati or sushi rice varieties. When in doubt, read the instructions.
When selecting rice, more color generally means more nutrients. So brown rice, red or black rice, and Minnesota wild rice (related to, but different from Asian rice) are better for you than plain white rice. You can store brown rice in the refrigerator for about 6 months.
If you can’t find anything but white rice, which is mostly starch, look for the word “parboiled” on the package for the most nutrients. The second option would be “converted” rice, which has been precooked. Many of the nutrients have been removed from the “polished” rice. Although instant rice is quick and easy to fry, it dissolves and won’t hold up in a crock pot, soup, or casserole. White rice will last one to three years and does not need refrigeration.
Long grain rice includes jasmine from Thailand and Vietnam, basmati from India, texmati from Texas, wild walnut rice from Louisiana, wehani from California (developed from basmati and similar in taste), and the expensive Patna from India. Medium grain rice includes sona masuri rice from India, carnaroli rice used in slow cooker Italian dishes such as risotto, red rice from Bhutan, sticky rice from Thailand, wild rice from Minnesota, and black rice from China. , which is purple in color with a nutty flavor. Short grain rice includes Calrose rice and sushi (a semi-polished white rice) and Valencia (bomba) rice or paella, which absorbs a lot of moisture without breaking and is often used as a substitute for medium Arborio rice. Sweet or glutinous rice is used for desserts. In this case glutinous means “sticky like glue”. Rice is gluten free.
Read the package directions for cooking. If buying from a bulk container, use 1 cup of rice in 2 cups of water plus ¼ teaspoon of salt. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for an hour or until water is absorbed. Do not lift the lid as it may dry out and interrupt the cooking process. Remove the pan from the heat and let it rest, still covered, for another ten minutes before serving.
Bring out more flavors and shorten the cook time by 10 minutes by dry roasting the rice in a skillet over high heat (before cooking in water) until the grains are golden brown. Stir or shake the rice to prevent burning. You can also use a pressure cooker. Rice doesn’t separate as well and isn’t quite as fluffy, but it will retain nutrients, flavor, and moisture better than boiling.
For the curry rice, use 2 cups of cooked basmati rice, 2 tablespoons of butter or canola oil, a minced onion, a teaspoon of curry powder, ½ cup of raisins, and 1 cup of peas. For the Pilaf, sauté 1 cup of uncooked brown rice in a little oil, add a minced onion, a little garlic and carrots and simmer in 2½ cups of water for 45 minutes. Finish by adding some peas and parsley. For a summer salad, combine 2 cups cooked brown rice or red wehani rice with ¼ cup chopped toasted walnuts or walnuts, 2 tablespoons canola oil and white vinegar, ½ cup chopped chives, 1 yellow or orange bell pepper. chopped for color and ¼ teaspoon salt. Add cilantro for more color and flavor.
Add toasted sesame seeds to any rice dish. Wild rice is often used for stuffing, but it makes a great garnish and holds up well in a crock pot. Season wild rice with cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and raisins. Its earthy flavor also goes well with mushrooms. Add some heat to any rice dish by grinding up some Sichuan peppers. Any sweet veggie will go well with rice, especially carrots, corn, peas, and tomatoes. Black beans and lentils are a good choice with rice for hardy winter casseroles.