Chances are at some point in your life you have eaten rice. Rice can be found all over the globe in various shapes and sizes; there are roughly 40,000 varieties that we know of currently. With so many options it is understandably overwhelming to know which kind to use in a recipe.
If you pay close attention to the rice in your dishes you will noticed that it isn’t always the same. We tend to look at rice as one of two kinds: brown or white, but really it’s much more complicated than that because they start off the same. Brown rice has its bran layer in tack; where as white rice has been polished. This gives it a beautiful pearly exterior at the expense of some nutrients (which were in the bran). Brown rice tends to be a nuttier and chewer then its white counterpart. Both types can be further broken down into categories by size:
Long Grain: This rice can be found in both brown and white styles. It is commonly used in Indian cooking, and is easily found in groceries stores. Basmati and Jasmine are part of this category. Long grain rice is a perfect accompaniment to curries and makes a great side dish or pilaf.
Medium Grain: Some people consider medium and short grain the same variety as they both cook up sticky. Medium is a bit less squat then short grain, so I have decided to separate the two. Medium grain rice is used in dishes in both Italian and Spanish cultures. If you are making risotto or paella this is the grain of choice.
Short Grain: If you have eaten sushi then you have had short grain rice. It is often used in Japanese cuisine in sushi, as a base for a grain bowl, or as a side dish. It can also be found in various sticky rice dishes in Cantonese, Thai and Filipino cultures. Some short grain varieties are known as glutinous despite rice being gluten free before processing.
Speciality: There are some varieties that are neither brown nor white. Black rice cooks up deep purple and can be found in some Asian dishes. Wehani is a reddish American rice that in be found in some rice blends. There is also wild rice, which isn’t actually rice at all, it’s a grass.
Are you wondering where converted rice is in this post? Well it isn’t actually a variety of rice at all, it’s a treatment. Converted or parboild rice has been pressure-steamed so that the grain absorbs some of the nutrients that are found in the husk. This is a good choice if you are concerned about the nutritional content of your grains but like white rice better than brown.