Maybe you remember rice showering down on you at your wedding or the first time you tried to cook it on your own and the big gooey mess that followed. Whether the memory leaves you with a smile or a scowl, the rice you pictured in your mind is probably basic white rice — the carb we all know and love.
But rice is a worldwide grain and showcases worldly flavours depending on the type. Here are 10 varieties of rice and how to use them.
Jasmine White Rice
Originating in Thailand, this long grain rice is known for its delicate floral scent and soft, sticky texture. It is perfect for southeast Asian cooking and rice-based desserts. Cook 1 cup rice in 1½ cups of water, or for softer rice add a little more water and cook longer.
This nutty, fragrant, long grain rice comes from the foothills of the Himalayas in Pakistan and India. Its name has both Hindi and Sanskrit roots, meaning full of aroma. Both white and brown varieties are available; the brown providing whole-grain nutritional benefits. Rinse the rice before cooking to remove excess starch and help maintain a light, fluffy texture once cooked.
If you love risotto, then you love arborio rice because it’s the essential component of the classic Italian dish. This short-grain rice is fat and round, and has a pearl exterior. Arborio is used in risotto because it cooks to a smooth, creamy consistency. In contrast to other types, Arborio Rice is cooked al-dente – slightly firm.
Thai Red Rice
Next time you spice up your rice game try Thai Red Rice, a whole-grain known for its reddish-brown exterior and white interior. This unpolished rice has a nutty flavour and chewy consistency. Cook like traditional rice: 1 part rice to 1½ parts water. To ensure it is cooked to a soft texture, see if the red kernel has burst open. It can be used in place of brown rice in any recipe.
The shorter the rice, the stickier it will be. This Japanese super short-grain variety cooks to a gooey, chewy, sticky texture that holds its shape. Rinse before cooking until the water runs clear then add rice and water in a 1:1 ratio into a pot. What really sets sushi rice apart is that it is seasoned after cooking using a mixture of rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt.
Long Grain Brown Rice
Long grain brown rice makes a light, fluffy final product. Cook 1 cup of rice in 1¾ – 2 cups of water for 40-45 minutes. For even tastier brown rice, try toasting it before cooking in a teaspoon of oil. Brown rice goes rancid faster than white rice, so store it in airtight container and buy fresh every six months.
Your ticket to Canadian “rice”. Wild rice isn’t a grain but the seed of a semi-aquatic grass found near the Upper Great Lakes of the U.S. and Canada. It’s gluten-free and known for its high protein, fibre content, and amino acids. It cooks longer than rice but can be cooked like pasta, draining the water afterwards.
Thai Black Rice
Also known as Purple Sticky Rice or Black Sticky Rice, Thai Black Rice is a glutinous rice often used in desserts or sweet snacks. The grains, when cooked, turn burgundy, taste nutty and are sticky. Uncooked, it resembles wild rice’s varied colours. In Thailand you’ll find it in kao neow dahm — a warm coconut rice pudding (Kao – rice, neow – sticky, dahm – black).
Forbidden Black Rice
This exotic-named rice adds a sense of intrigue to any dish. Centuries ago only Chinese royalty ate it, and it’s also called Chinese Black Rice. It’s an heirloom rice that until recently hasn’t been grown on a large scale as it’s hard to grow. It is high in antioxidants, fibre, iron and protein, and similar to brown rice in taste and texture. It is the super food of rice varieties.
Golden Rose Brown Rice
If you’re transitioning from white rice in your everyday cooking to long grain brown rice, this might be a good in-between stage. As whole-grain, it’s high in nutrients, antioxidants, and fibre, and can help stabilize blood sugar levels. Like other brown rice varieties, it takes up to 50 minutes to cook.