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Rice Basics

Here's how to pick the right rice for your needs.

When cooking white rice for recipes, you can choose from three types:

Be sure to choose the right kind of rice for the dinner you're serving.
  • Short-grain rice is high in starch, making it stickier than other rices. It is most often used in Asian cooking, Spanish paella, and risotto. One prized short-grain rice is Arborio rice -- a mainstay in risotto.
  • Medium-grain rice is slightly sticky. It cooks up tender and plump with a mild flavor and can be used in a variety of dishes.
  • Long-grain white rice is the most common rice used in America. It has a neutral taste and firm texture, and remains separate and fluffy when cooked. Long-grain rices such as jasmine and basmati are aromatic rices known for their fragrances. Both are good paired with stir-fry dishes and other Asian- and Indian-style foods or used in pilafs.
Get creative with your meals by changing the rice you use.
  • Brown rice only has the hull removed. The bran layers left on the grain give it a tan color and a nutty flavor with a slightly chewy texture.
  • White or polished rice is milled to remove both the hull and the bran layers. It's milky, delicately flavored, and comes in several varieties.
  • Precooked (quick-cooking) rice is available in both white and brown.
  • Parboiled (sometimes called converted) rice is treated by a steam-pressure process before milling to make the white cooked grain extra fluffy.
  • Wild rice is used like rice but isn't rice at all; it's the long, dark brown or black, nutty-flavored seed of a marsh grass. There are many varieties and it cooks in just a few minutes.
  • In addition, there are a host of colored rices. These include Himalayan Red, Chinese Black, Colusari Red, Black Japonica, and Purple Thai, now available for cooks who want to go beyond basic white or brown.
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