[FOODIES CORNER] 10 Best types of Rice, how to Cook with them

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Rice is a global staple, celebrated and savored in countless forms. The varieties of rice are nearly as diverse as the ways to prepare them. To choose the right type of rice for your dish, it’s essential to distinguish between basmati, Arborio, wild rice, and others, and to understand how to cook each unique type. Despite their differences, all rice varieties share some common characteristics.

Main Rice Types

Before we delve into specifics, let’s discuss the main rice types. In addition to being categorized by size—short-, medium-, and long-grain rice—different types of rice also have different textures and uses.

Short-Grain

Short-grain rice, which is also known as Japonica rice, is the smallest of the bunch, which means the grains are short and plump. Due to its shape, short-grain rice tends to clump together when cooked. Short-grain rice also contains more starch than long-grain varieties. Common examples of short-grain rice are sushi rice and Arborio rice. Use this type of rice to make sushi, rice pudding, and rice balls.

Medium-Grain

As its name suggests, medium-grain rice is shorter and wider than long-grain rice, but longer than short-grain rice. Common examples of medium-grain rice are bomba rice and Arborio rice. Use this type of rice to make paella and risotto.

Long-Grain

Long-grain rice is known for its long and slim shape, and is longer than it is wide. It’s beloved for being light and fluffy, and doesn’t clump together. Common examples of long-grain rice are basmati rice and jasmine rice. Use this type of rice to make rice pilaf, a rice bowl, and as the base of a stir-fry.

Varieties of Rice

Now that you know the main rice types, let’s delve into the specific varieties of rice. Note that each of the below falls into the short-grain, medium-grain, or long-grain rice category.

  1. Basmati Rice: Basmati rice can be white or brown, and each type has a slightly different cooking method. Perfectly cooked basmati rice should be fluffy, and can be served as a side dish with curries and stews, or made into a pilaf. For white basmati rice, add rinsed rice, 1 ½ cups water, and ½ teaspoon of salt to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir once, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer for 18 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep the lid on to steam for five minutes. Fluff with a fork, and serve.
  2. Brown Basmati Rice: Because brown basmati rice is a whole grain, it takes a bit longer to cook. To do so, combine 1 cup of brown basmati rice with 2 cups of water and ½ teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, stir, and cover. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 50 minutes. Remove from heat, and keep the lid on to steam for five additional minutes. Fluff with a fork, and serve.
  3. Jasmine Rice: Jasmine rice is a long-grain rice, similar to basmati, and also comes in white and brown varieties. For white jasmine rice, you’ll want a 1:1.5 rice to water ratio. Rinse one cup of rice until the water runs clear, and add it to a pot with 1.5 cups water or other liquid. Bring to a boil, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and lower the heat to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, keeping the lid on. Let the cooked rice rest for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and serve. For brown jasmine rice, use a rice to liquid ratio of 1:2 and cook for 40 minutes before resting and fluffing. Jasmine rice is commonly used in a range of recipes and cuisines, including Mexican Red Rice, Cuban Black Beans and Rice, coconut rice, and Herby Rice Salad With Chickpeas and Pistachios. It can also be added to soups, and more.
  4. Brown Rice: “A lot of people don’t realize you have to cook brown rice and white rice completely differently,” says Lundberg. “Brown rice still has that bran intact, so you need more water and more time to cook it.” For brown rice, you’ll want to combine your rinsed rice, liquid, and some butter or oil to a pot, bring it to a boil, and then cover with a tight-fitting lid to simmer for 40-45 minutes. Do not lift the lid. Then, let the rice continue to steam for 10 minutes, fluff with a fork, and serve. Generally, you’ll need about 1 ¾ cup liquid per 1 cup of brown rice, but some brown rice may require slightly more or less liquid, depending on the shape. Leftover brown rice can be used in fried rice, or to create a healthy Chicken and Avocado Rice Bowl with protein and veggies.
  5. Forbidden Rice: Forbidden rice, also called black rice or sometimes purple rice, can add a dramatic hue, texture, and some extra nutrition to any rice dish. “It’s really beautiful and naturally black, not dyed,” says Lundberg. “It’s a rich source of vitamins and fiber, plus antioxidants.” It’s also really easy to use in place of short-grain brown rice in any recipe, and should be cooked the same way as brown rice. To do so, use a ratio of 1 cup of black rice to 1 ¾ cup liquid, bring to a boil, and then cover tightly and simmer for 40-45 minutes. Allow the rice to steam for 10 minutes without lifting the lid. Fluff with a fork, and serve.
  6. Sushi Rice: Sushi rice is a short-grain rice that can be used for making sushi, nigiri, poke bowls, and so much more. Though it’s known for being sticky, it’s not the same as glutinous rice. Sushi rice is best prepared with a 1-2 minute rinse under fresh water, until the water rinsing the rice runs clear instead of cloudy. Then, soak the rice for 30 minutes in the pot you’ll use to cook the rice, with enough water to cover all the grains. Drain the rice, and return it to the pot with fresh water. A 1:1 ratio is ideal for short-grain rice, like sushi rice. Bring it to a boil and immediately lower the heat to a simmer. Cover tightly and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let it steam with the lid on for 10 more minutes. Fluff and serve.  Ever wonder how sushi rice sticks together so perfectly? Once cooked, the very starchy rice is typically combined with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. When the rice has cooled and the liquid is absorbed, it’s even easier to mold.
  7. Bomba Rice: Bomba rice, also called Valencia rice, is a short-grain rice originally from Valencia, Spain. It’s commonly featured in paella and other Spanish dishes, and can be used in any recipe calling for short-grain white rice. Because this type of rice is cultivated for paella, it excels at absorbing liquid, so you’ll want to use a 1 cup rice to 1 ¾ cup liquid ratio, and perhaps use a broth, some wine, or other flavorful liquid to make the most of this rice that captures the flavor of its cooking liquid. To make it, rinse the rice until the liquid is clear (however, some people making paella prefer to reserve the outer starch and not rinse the rice). Bring 1 ¾ cup of liquid to a boil, stir in rice, and cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Let the rice rest for five minutes and fluff.
  8. Arborio Rice: Arborio rice is an Italian short-grain white rice typically used in risotto. Similar to bomba rice, it absorbs liquid and flavor nicely, but Arborio rice is longer, while bomba rice is rounder, meaning Arborio rice lends itself to have a starchier, creamier quality. Of course, Arborio rice can be cooked by following any risotto recipe, which requires constant attention and stirring in warm liquid in small portions at a time. Or, Arborio rice can be cooked like other white rice, with a ratio of 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of water. To cook Arborio rice, bring two cups of lightly salted water to a boil. Add a pat of butter or olive oil, if desired. Stir in Arborio rice, and cover and cook on low heat for 20 minutes. Keep stirring to ensure the liquid is absorbed. Because of its stickiness and creaminess, Arborio rice also works well in rice pudding.
  9. Sticky Rice : Also called glutinous rice, sticky rice is known for being, well, sticky. It’s a southeast Asian staple, and can be eaten along with savory, spicy, and sweet dishes. Because of its stickiness, glutinous rice has a much different cooking method—you’ll steam it—than many types of Western rice. Start by soaking your sticky rice for at least six hours, or up to 24 hours. Then, pour off the excess water. Set up a steamer (bamboo or metal works best) over a shallow pot of boiling water, adding a steamer liner to prevent the rice from sticking. Add rice in a thin layer, and cover, allowing it to steam for 30 minutes. Let the rice rest and serve immediately. This steaming method can also work for other types of short-grain rice for a stickier texture.
  10. Wild Rice: “Wild rice is actually not even rice, it’s a marsh grass seed from the rivers of Canada and Minnesota, and it’s super tall,” says Lundberg. However, this wild grass seed can be used in similar ways as rice, and tastes similar and cooks similarly as well. To make wild rice, bring 2 ¼ cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan with 8 ounces of wild rice. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 45 minutes without lifting the lid. Let the rice steam for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and serve.