The rice aisle at your local market can be an overwhelming place. Unlike standing in line Chipotle, white rice or brown is just the beginning of your options.
Rice is used widely in Asian and Indian cuisines, but it can be found in all kinds of dishes from around the world. Paella and curry rely on it heavily. You can’t make sushi without rice. Rice can really bring a burrito together, and jambalaya wouldn’t be the same without it.
These popular edible seeds from the plant Oryza sativa comes in several shapes, sizes, textures, and unique flavors. If you were to list the famous dishes that require rice as an ingredient, that would just be the beginning. It’s easily one of the most consumed food worldwide, so it’s no wonder there are so many different types.
This your go-to rice for making any risotto dish. It retains more starch than some other types of rice, which releases when you cook it lends itself to creating creamy, yummy risotto. But once cooked, it will still have a slightly firm texture.
This is a type of long-grain, Indian rice. You’ve probably had it in curry. It’s nutty and aromatic, sometimes compared to Jasmine rice for that reason. If you want to make your own pilaf, this is the rice you should turn to.
It’s sometimes called the forbidden rice, though it’s not so forbidden these days, widely available at stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and even Walmart. It tastes earthy and nutty. It contains antioxidants known as anthocyanins, which is what turns it a dark color (the same antioxidant that’s in blueberries and blackberries).
Jasmine rice is nutty and aromatic, a little more so than basmati rice, but it originated in Thailand. It’s a shorter grain than basmati rice, but they can be used interchangeably. I use it all the time in my Chinese fried rice, but if you’re looking for a simple side dish, try my coconut rice recipe.
Brown rice is the new white rice. It can be easily substituted into any dish in the place of white rice and it contains more nutrients such as phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium, while also offering more fiber per serving than white rice.
Red cargo rice
Red cargo rice is chewy once cooked and leeches out a red color. It has a nutty flavor, but some complain that its texture is too gummy.
Parboiled rice is processed differently than regular white and brown rice. The hull is left on as it’s soaked and steamed. It’s then dried, hulls are removed, and the resulting rice is packaged. Because the hull is left on for longer in the process, the grains absorb more nutrients like vitamin B and potassium. Once cooked, it’s dry and has a firm texture.
Sticky rice contains less amylose than other types of rice which causes the grains to stick together cooked. It’s a sweet rice used in many Asian dishes, including desserts. You can boil it or steam it, but you can also cook as you would risotto.
This is a short-grain glutinous white rice (like sticky rice or Calrose rice) that’s combined with rice vinegar and then cooled to roll in sushi. Sometimes, you can find it packaged and labeled as “sushi rice.”
Named after the region it’s commonly grown — Valencia, Spain — Valencia rice is best known for making paella. Its grains are short and round. You might also hear it referred to as bomba rice. It has a superpower in the sense that it absorbs more water, and therefore it absorbs more flavor than many other types of rice.
Long grain white rice
The classic white rice — long grain white rice is long and thin just as the name implies, which also makes it fluffy once cooked. The shorter the rice, the more likely grains are to stick together. The longer, the fluffier.
Interestingly enough, wild isn’t actually rice. It just looks, cooks, and acts like rice so it gets to borrow the name. Wild rice is actually made of seeds that come from a type of marsh grass. It has more antioxidants than actual rice and may help improve heart health and lower the risk of diabetes [source]. Like long-grain white rice, it has a fluffy texture but tastes more rustic and earthy. The photo pictured above is a mixture of wild and brown rice.
This is a shorter to medium grain rice that gets sticky once it’s cooked. It absorbs a lot of flavors and, like other types of sticky rice, it can stand its ground in soups and stews.
What’s the right ratio of water-to-rice?
Well, it depends! The ratio is typically 1-part rice to 1.5 or 2-parts water depending on the variety. I find that long-grain requires a higher amount of water (1½ to 2 parts), medium-grain needs slightly less (1½ to 1¾ parts), and short-grain requires the least but is often soaked for several hours in cold water and then steamed, not simmered in water.
The best place to check is the manufacturer’s suggestions on the back of the bag. There’s typically a recommended rice-to-liquid amount to follow. Oftentimes there is an option to add about ¼ cup more or less to yield a drier or more moist product.
How much does dry rice yield once cooked?
Dry rice can typically swell around three times its size. One cup of dried rice can yield 3 cups of cooked rice for most types. A general recommended serving size is 1 ounce dried rice, about ½ cup cooked [source]. I’ve noticed that most labels on rice products say ¼ cup of dried rice is a serving, therefore manufacturers are estimating about ¾ cup of cooked rice per person.
How long does it take to cook rice?
Timing is dependent on the shape, quantity, and type. White rice cooks quicker than brown rice because there’s no outer fibrous bran layer due to milling. This can range from 15 to 25 minutes for white rice, and 30 minutes or more for wild and black rice.
Most sticky rice requires soaking in cool water and then steaming for 30 to 45 minutes. Cooking brown rice takes almost double the time to soften the bran and to allow for water absorption into the center of the endosperm.