Thursday, November 30, 2023

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    Learning to differentiate rice types

    There are more than 40,000 varieties of rice. Are you a bit surprised? Every time you go to the supermarket, you may see at least five different types.

    Even with this small selection, you always choose the same white rice, on a few occasions brown rice for health reasons. When you feel bold, you take any package for making an international dish. That is the far you have gone.

    You can go even further if you differentiate rice types and know how to use them correctly to prepare countless delightful dishes. Besides, you will find out the nutritional value each rice can provide to your body.

    A large amount of varieties

    You won’t find the 40,000 varieties of rice at the local grocery store. This classification references all the types discovered until now.

    Generally, rice is grouped according to its species, shape, texture, genetics, color, aroma, method of growing, and size.

    The typical classification you need to manage is rice size: short-grain, medium-grain, and long-grain rice.

    • Short-grain rice: It is shorter and wider with a round shape and is chubby.
    • Medium-grain rice: It is confused with the short-grain type, but is longer than wider. The best description of its size is between long-grain and short-grain.
    • Long-grain rice: It is the biggest of three types. It is longer with a length that is three times its width.

    Each type is for a specific application

    These three main types of rice are used for specific dishes. Their size is not only about the length or width they have. It also implies the amount of starch contained.

    The starch defines the final texture of rice, which gives a distinctive texture to several typical preparations worldwide. Starch is composed of two types of molecules: amylopectin and amylose. They act differently when being in contact with water when cooking.

    The amylopectin is known as sticky starch and dissolves in water to form a viscous solution. This gives the rice a glutinous texture. The amylose is called dry starch. When it is introduced to water do not form a gelatinous liquid. Instead, it makes rice stay firmer.

    For this reason, knowing when and how to use each type of rice is essential. You can benefit from rice features to create successful international dishes at home.

    Following this knowledge, short grain has more amylopectin, the sticky starch. When cooked, rice tends to be sticker and softer. This type is for cooking: sushi, poke bowls, rice balls, rice puddings, paella, and risotto.

    Medium-grain rice has more sticky starch than dry. It can be used the same way as short-grain rice. It is for making risotto, paella, rice pudding, and soups.

    Long grain has more dry starch. When cooked, rice grains remain firm and separate. It has a light and fluffy texture. It is ideal for making pilafs, fried rice, casseroles, curry, and biryani.

    The wonders of Arborio rice

    The white rice you buy at your local grocery store is long-grain type. You may use it interchangeably in any rice preparations. Now you know the reasons why some dishes don’t end up as you imagine. You have been using the wrong type of rice.

    To practice everything you have learned here, give a chance to a different type of rice for preparing an international dish.

    One good option for starting is Arborio risotto rice. It is a short-grain starchy rice type. It absorbs perfectly the liquid in which it is cooked, giving rice its distinctive gluey texture.

    In addition, Arborio has plenty of nutritional benefits. It has a high content of protein, vitamins and minerals for the essential functions of your body. It is very easy to digest and it is gluten-free.

    So, wait no more and, in your shopping list, including a package of Arborio rice. Prepare a delicious risotto or a creamy rice pudding.

    Here is a recipe for properly making a traditional risotto with the right type of rice.

    Risotto alla Milanese

    Ingredients (4 servings):

    • 2 cups of Arborio rice.
    • 5 cups of chicken stock.
    • 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil.
    • 1 finely chopped onion.
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine.
    • Kosher salt to taste.
    • Ground black pepper
    • Pinch of saffron threads.
    • 1/2 cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
    • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
    • Chopped parsley for garnish.


    1. In a medium saucepan, pour chicken stock. Cook until it gets warmer. Set aside.
    2. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil at medium temperature.
    3. Incorporate the onion and cook for 5 minutes or until the onion is fragrant.
    4. Add rice, salt, and pepper to taste. Sauté for 2 minutes. Try rice to be fully covered with oil.
    5. Crush saffron threads and mix with the dry white wine. Pour it into the saucepan.
    6. Stir constantly and cook until the wine is absorbed.
    7. Add 1 cup of the warm chicken stock and low heat.
    8. Continue stirring until the stock is almost absorbed. Then, add ½ more cup of this liquid.
    9. Keep adding stock until you complete the 5 cups. Don’t forget to stir constantly.
    10. Cook for 20 minutes.
    11. When rice is nearly cooked, add more salt, pepper, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and unsalted butter.
    12. Let it rest for 5 minutes, sprinkle some parsley on top and serve.
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