Rice, like other grains, is the edible seed of grass. Different rice varieties are better for specific recipes than others. Each type of rice has different characteristics, texture, and taste that make it naturally creamier and compact or fluffier and separate. So, If you’re trying a new rice dish and you can’t figure out what variety of the rice should be, then you’re at the right place.
Rice Grain Length
The first thing is that the different grain lengths will determine what kind of texture. Therefore, it is crucial to understand each type of rice to choose suitable grains for the perfect rice dish. There are three main grain lengths- short, medium, and long grain.
Long Grain Rice
Due to its starch composition, it is light, fluffy, and separate when cooked. Long grains have milled grains that are at least three to four times as long as wide. You can use white rice for various dishes like casseroles, pilafs, stir-fries, and rice sides, and you will have the perfect flavor and texture.
Thai Jasmine Rice
It gets its name because it is grown in Thailand. Thai jasmine is ideal for rice salads, fried rice, stir-fries, and pilafs. In addition, these exotic and fragrant grains are perfect for pairing with different spices to create bold and delicious flavors in various rice dishes.
Whole grain brown rice has a light and fluffy grain, the added benefit of whole grains, and a nutty taste and chewy texture.
Basmati rice is an aromatic grain. This rice is perfect for dishes like rice salads, stuffing for wraps, burritos, and tacos. Also great for sweet treats like rice pudding because of its slender and separate grains when cooked.
Medium Grain Rice
Medium-grain rice has a broader and shorter kernel comparatively. Moreover, since the cooked grains are more tender and moist compared to long grain rice, the rice has a higher tendency to stick together.
Parboiled Medium Grain
Parboiled rice is partially precooked within its inedible husk. So you can spend less time and hassle cooking it and more time preparing a dish like a paella. These medium-length grains are perfect for absorbing all the bold and savory paella flavors.
Short Grain Rice
Includes grains less than twice as long as wide; this rice is short and best for sushi. In addition, it has a sticky texture when cooked.
Native to Italy, these grains are typically in Italian foods. It has high starch content that creates the creamy and smooth texture of risotto.
Sushi rice is not a type of rice but a way of preparing short-grain rice by mixing it with some vinegar and sugar for the sushi flavor. However, you will commonly see rice sold as ‘sushi rice.’ That means you are getting short-grained rice that is good for use in sushi.
Also, think about the desired texture of the dish while cooking rice dishes. The starch content varies in different rice types. It will affect whether rice is sticky, fluffy, or light.
Sticky rice is also known as sweet rice, grown mainly in Southeast and East Asia. It is in various traditional Asian dishes, sweets, and desserts.
This rice has cooked through a steam-pressure process before milling that gelatinizes the grain starch. This process produces separate grain that is fluffy and light when cooked. Then that converted rice is a type of parboiled rice that has been further precooked, which ultimately allows you to whip up rice dishes even faster.
Short grain rice tends to stick and clump together due to its sticky, glue-like properties rather than gluten content. On the other hand, medium-grain rice tends to cook up moist and tender, and long-grain rice will be the right choice when you need grains that cook up separately that are light and fluffy.
When buying rice, choose edible quality brands that contain no additives, preservatives, or unnecessary ingredients. Finally, it would be best to always opt for the product with the best flavor and texture for your recipe.