Rice is the most important food crop of the developing world and a staple food for more than half of the world’s population. It is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates to sustain good health being rich in nutrients, vitamins and minerals. There are many different types of rice with several qualities, suiting different consumer preferences. Quality factors in rice relate to length of the grain, stickiness, aroma, texture and flavor.
Although cooked in several different ways, on their own, they are extensively used in a wide variety of food. The egg whites help give volume, thicken, bind mixtures, glaze surfaces and the egg yolks help to emulsify.
Oryza Sativa (Asian rice) – contains two groups: indica (long-grain) and japonica (short-grain). Other types of Asian rice include the glutinous rice and aromatic rice.
Oryza Glaberrima (African rice) – includes short and long grain varieties.
Here are the different types of rice...
1. Long Grain Rice
- White rice
The long-grain white rice is the most familiar rice used in kitchens. It is often cooked by the absorption method.
- Basmati rice
Sometimes called “popcorn rice” is a long-grain variety that is highly regarded for its fragrance, taste and slender shape. This rice is perfect for Indian cuisine and not sticky like the other varieties of rice.
- Jasmine rice
This rice originates from Thailand and has a long and translucent grain. When cooked, it has a slightly floral aroma, soft and clingy texture.
2. Medium Grain Rice
- Japanese rice
This Japanese style sticky rice is used for sushi and could also be served plain. It is translucent when raw and is firm & sticky when cooked.
- Bomba rice
This choice of rice is used for the Spanish dish “Paella”. It absorbs twice as much liquid as compared to other medium-grain rice, but without getting sticky.
3. Short Grain Rice
- Arborio rice
It is the most widely used variety of Italian superfine rice and used to make Risotto.
- Short grain brown rice
Rice with the bran intact is chewier than the white short grain rice and like any other short-grained variety, when cooked, becomes sticky.
4. Specialty Rice
- Wild rice
The only grain native to North America and actually an aquatic grass. It is often sold mixed with long-grain rice. This rice is gluten-free and high in fiber & protein.
- Brown rice
This is the type of rice that has been hulled with the bran intact. It is higher in vitamins and minerals than white rice. The storage life of brown rice can last more than 6 months. It is great for making rice salads and healthy Asian dishes.
- Red rice
This aromatic rice with reddish-brown bran has a nutty flavor and a chewy consistency. Red rice is great with hearty ingredients like butternut squash.
This is a whole grain, reddish brown hybrid of basmati and long-grain brown rice. It is intense to chew and its deep color makes it popular for mixing with other rice in Pilaf.
- Chinese black rice
Also known as forbidden rice, it is whole grain rice that cooks up firm, is non-sticky and tender. It has a dramatic color (deep purple) when cooked and is particularly striking as a side dish.
Rice Recipe of the Day - Paella
This dish is believed to be a fusion between several cultures including Spanish, Roman and the Arabic, who introduced rice to Europe. The term ‘Paella’ actually refers to the pan in which it is cooked in and actually originates from the Arab word “baqiyah” meaning leftovers.
Many culinary experts believe that the dish was developed in the Spanish city of Valencia. Valencia is where the Romans introduced irrigation and then the Arab conquerors brought rice and perfected it. Today, many still say that the best authentic paella comes only from Valencia.
When cooking Paella there are 3 pillars to keep in mind: the rice, the pan and the soccarat.
Rice: There are several types of rice that are widely available in Spain, the best one that is often used to make Paella is the Bomba rice. However, Arborio is an acceptable substitute.
Pan: It is important that the rice be distributed over the pan in a layer no more than about 1/2 inch thick.
Soccarat: Soccarat is the caramelized crust of rice that will form between the rice and the pan. It has been called the “prize in well-made paella.” The flavor of the rice will change and improve dramatically once the soccarat has formed, as the rice should be al dente, not mushy and the texture should never be creamy.
To form the socarrat, you may need to increase the heat at the end of the cooking.
Paella are traditionally served in a family style setting in Spain, directly placed on the dinner table with the pan in the center and eaten straight from the pan, not plates.
The delicious paella, is flavored with intense saffron spice, cooked together with seafood that adds an element of flavor & texture, along with a squeeze of the lemon wedge which brings a tang with sharpness & freshness to the dish.
Recipe Card (to serve 4 pax)
|Olive oil||1 tbsp|
|Onion (finely chopped)||half a piece|
|Garlic (finely chopped)||1 clove|
|Red pepper (chopped)||½ a piece|
|Chicken stock||4 cups|
|Saffron threads||1 pinch|
|Smoked paprika||1 tsp|
|Bomba (Paella) rice||1 ½ cups|
|Parsley (leaves picked and chopped)||1 small bunch|
|Fresh or frozen peas||1 handful|
|Squid (halved)||2 small|
|Sea salt||as required|
|Freshly ground black pepper||as required|
|Tomato concasse (finely chopped)||100 ml|
|Lemon wedges||as required|
Method of Cooking:
- Rinse clams under cold water and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt, cover with cold water; soak for a bit. Rinse clams thoroughly and drain.
- Shell and devein prawns. Scrub mussels and remove beards.
- In a sauce pan, heat the chicken stock; bring to a boil then take it off heat. Divide the stock evenly into 2 bowls; in one bowl add the saffron (to make infused stock).
- Heat olive oil in a Paella pan/large skillet. Then add the onion, garlic and red pepper; sauté for a few minutes then add the tomato concasse.
- Add the smoked paprika, rice and infused stock and leave to cook on a medium heat, stirring from time to time.
- After 15 minutes the rice should be nearly cooked. At this point, pour in the rest of the stock along with the peas. Season if required.
- Add prawns, mussels and squid; let it simmer for 5 minutes more, until the stock is absorbed.
- Remove from heat and stand for 10 minutes.
- Serve with chopped parsley and wedges of lemon.