Rice Varieties

I used to have a cooking advice column and one of the questions I received was about rice varieties and how best to use them.  I thought I’d bring it over here for kicks.  Cooking rice is pretty easy, usually 1 rice to 2 water (or broth) ratio, but check variety to be sure, bring to boil, stir quickly, reduce heat to low, cover until all water is absorbed.  Most rices take 20 minutes, brown rice takes 40-45 minutes.  More on brown rice here.

Dear TaMara,

I’d like to try different types of rice, but I am unsure which rice compliments which foods. Can you tell me the differences between rice styles and how best to serve them? – Pat K.

Dear Pat,

Great question. I did a bit of research and this is the consensus. Which rice for which dish? Jasmine works best for Asian dishes. Arborio for Mediterranean, especially risotto, it absorbs lots of flavor. Basmati for Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. Though there are no hard and fast rules. Experiment with the flavors and see which you like when.

This is how each rice breaks down in flavor & texture:

Jasmine—A long grain white rice, delicately fragrant, soft, moist and slightly sticky, compliments any Asian dish.

Arborio -A medium grain white rice, with a chalky white appearance. It is this chalky area that makes this grain unique, allowing the grains to absorb unusually large amounts of liquid and hence flavor during cooking. This is also what makes it especially suited to risottos, paellas, dolmades and other Mediterranean dishes.

Basmati— An aromatic long grain rice that has the unusual characteristic of doubling in length but not width during cooking. This dry, separating grain is especially suited to Indian and Middle Eastern dishes, such as curries, pilafs.

Thanks for the question, I learned something new today myself.

TaMara