"If you give me rice, I'll eat today; if you teach me how to grow rice, I'll eat every day." - Gandhi
Since September is National Rice Month, it was only fitting to have our monthly blog be ALL ABOUT RICE.
A staple food for billions of people, there is no corner of the world that you’ll visit that won’t stress the importance of rice in their culture. Whether it’s a traditional Valencian Paella or a Senegalese Thieboudienne. People love rice, and for good reasons.
For centuries, rice has served as a comfort food, an essential carb, and sometimes even a means of survival. There’s no downplaying the impact that this simple grain has had on our society and our stomachs. But before we get into all of that, let’s start with the basics.
What is rice?
We eat it all the time, but do we really know what it is?
Rice is the seed of the grass species Oryza glaberrima (African Rice) or Oryza sativa (Asian Rice). As a cereal grain, it serves as the largest staple food for a significant portion of the world population, with most of its popularity stemming from Africa and Asia. Falling behind only sugarcane and maize, rice is the agricultural commodity with the third-highest worldwide production. Rice provides more than one-fifth of the calories consumed worldwide, making it the most important grain with regard to human consumption.
(Image Credit: Kelli Foster)
Types of Rice
The world of rice is a diverse and complex world with bottomless options. Options that we’re going to explore.
There’s probably a rice out there for any mood or occasion that you could possibly think of. You could be watching your weight and on the quest for the perfect brown rice, or maybe looking for the perfect option for some rice and stew *cough* Jasmine Rice *cough*. The point is there’s a rice out there for you.
Although there are over 40,000 rice varieties out there, we’re just going to talk about the most popular ones. The good thing with rice is the fact that it’s pretty straightforward. Rice is often Once you understand the grain variety and decide what would best suit your dish, picking your ideal rice is as easy as 1,2,3. These are the rice varieties that you’re most likely to run into at your local grocery store:
Long Grain Rice:
Staying true to its name, this rice is long and slim. Typically coming in at around 7-9mm long. It remains separate and fluffy when cooked and is suitable to be used in main courses, salads, and side dishes. Some popular variations of this rice include: Basmati Rice, Jasmine Rice, and American Brown Rice.
Medium Grain Rice:
This grain of rice is less common than the other options and is oftentimes utilized in very specific dishes. The rice of choice for delicious risotto or paella, medium grain rice is shorter and wider than its counterparts. The best varieties to have on hand are: Arborio, Valencia, and Bomba.
(Image Credit: SimplyRecipes)
Short Grain Rice:
Often-times compared and confused with medium grain rice, this variation of rice is the shortest and roundest of the three. This plump rice cooks sticky and tender, perfect for a nice sticky rice with mango dish or rice pudding.
(Image Credit: NomtasticFoods)