Rice is usually grown as an annual crop and the soil is prepared, fertilised,
smoothed over and flooded before seedlings, which were started off in beds, are
planted, traditionally by hand. During the growing season,
irrigation is maintained by various methods then the fields are then drained before
At the point of harvesting, the rice is known as "paddy". It first has to
be slowly air-dried to reduce moisture after which it is screened to remove
stones and dust
particles. Next the outer husk is removed and the rice is then cleaned
again and graded before being sold as brown rice. It can be further
processed into white rice by milling when it subjected to an abrasive action which removes the bran layers
which surrounds the white
Types of rice
In general rice varieties can be divided into two basic groups - long grain
and short grain
Long grain rice
Long grain rice is a slim grain which is 4-5 times as long as it is wide.
Sometimes called "all purpose" rice, it can be used in many recipes and cooked
in a variety of ways. It is one of the most popular types of rice for
everyday cooking in many cultures.
Types of Long grain rice
Brown Long Grain Rice (Wholegrain Rice).
This rice has a nutty flavour and is nutritionally the most complete rice
available as it
retains more vitamin , mineral and fibre content. Brown rice takes longer to
cook than white rice and the cooked grains have a chewy texture.
White Long Grain Rice. This is a more refined rice which is white in
colour and which cooks much more quickly than brown rice. It is one of the
easiest rices to cook as the grains remain separated. A good choice to accompany
spicy or very flavoursome dishes.
A very long, slender grained rice which has a fragrant flavour and aroma. It can
be white or brown and is the rice and is the preferred rice used in Indian
cuisine. Although he
grains separate when cooked they are more fluffy than ordinary white rice.
Jasmine Rice (Thai Fragrant Rice) Originating in Thailand this is an aromatic rice, although less
basmati. It has a soft and slightly sticky texture when cooked and is often used
in Thai and Chinese cuisine.
Wild Rice. Technically wild rice is not actually rice but an aquatic grass.
North America, it was traditionally grown wild in lakes and prefers to grow in
deep water. It takes a lot longer to cook than ordinary rice, around 45 minutes boiling, but
is prized for its a nutty flavour, texture and colour. It is often sold in
Short/Medium Grain Rice
As the name implies, short grain rices are much shorter in length than long
grain varieties - often having an almost round appearance. They tend to contain
more starch which has the effect of making the finished cooked rice softer and
more sticky or creamy depending on the recipe.
Types of short grain rice
Arborio Rice. Arborio Rice is an Italian variety of rice which is used to
make risotto. It has a distinctly chalky centre however when properly cooked,
it develops a unique texture with a starchy creamy surface and a firm
bite in the centre.
Japonica Rice. This can be short or medium grain. It comes in a variety of
colours including red, brown and black which adds added interest to rice recipes.
It has a moist but firm nature when cooked.
Camargue Red Rice. This rice is a relatively new variety cultivated in the wetlands
of the Camargue region of southern France. It is a short-grained, un-milled rice
with a brownish-red colour and is quite sticky once cooked. colour.
Pudding Rice. This is usually sold as a white rice and is most often used
for desserts such as rice pudding where it's starchy qualities make for a smooth
and creamy finish. It can also be used for recipes such as paella and risotto.
Glutinous Rice. Is also usually sold as a white rice and is prized
for its high starch content which, when cooked properly, makes the rice very
sticky and the grains hold together. It is used in various Asian cultures.
Preparing rice for cooking
Rice can contain little stones or chaff, particularly the cheaper brands, so it
is advisable to pick through the rice and remove any foreign bodies.
Some rices such as basmati and Thai fragrant benefit from being rinsed before
being cooked as this removes any loose surface starch which will help keep the
cooked rice from sticking. Place in a sieve and rinse under cold running water.
Other long-grain and brown rices don't need rinsing.
Never wash pudding or risotto rices.
How much rice per portion
In general, if serving as a side dish you should allow about 100g/4oz of long
grain rice per person. Risottos need about 75g/3oz per portion
depending on the recipe and other ingredients being used. When using short grain rice
for puddings, it depends on the individual recipe, however in general allow
35g/1˝oz per portion.
How to cook Rice
When you cook any rice, the starches gelatinise and it becomes tender. However
starch levels vary according to which variety of rice is being used, and the
amount of starch in different types affects how it turns out once cooked. For
this reason there are different preferred methods for cooking for the different
How to cook Long Grain Rices
There are two main methods for cooking plain long grained rice.
Adding salt and/or other seasonings to plain rice before cooking
gives the rice a better flavour, as does cooking in stock,
particularly when using white rice which can be very bland.
The absorption method. This
involves cooking rice in just enough water which will all be
absorbed by the time the rice is tender creating a dryer fluffier
finish. Use twice the amount of water to rice by volume,
i.e. cups or fl.oz . Place in a saucepan, bring to the boil, then
reduce the heat, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes (depending on the
rice used) until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is
just tender. Best for cooking white ling grain rice.
Boiling. This method uses a
larger quantity of water which will need to be drained off once the
rice is tender. Boiling is considered the easiest method
provided you don't over-cook it however it can result in a slightly
watery rice. Place the rice in a large saucepan cover with plenty of
cold water, bring to the boil then cook for 10-15 minutes or until
the rice is just tender. Drain very well then return to the
saucepan, cover and leave for a few minutes before serving.
How to cook Short
When it comes to short grain rices , the cooking method is very different
due to the nature of these rices. Short grained rices are generally
used for their starchy quality and agitating the grains whilst they
are cooking releases more of the starch.
Arborio and Pudding rice. When cooking risottos
and stove-top puddings, frequent stirring helps produce a creamy
texture. Both these rices dishes usually require ample
cooking liquid, and with Arborio rice the liquid is often added a little at a time to ensure the grains
take up the liquid evenly without falling apart. Coking times vary
depending on the recipe, but in general stove-top cooking requires
at least 30 minutes and oven cooked dishes upwards of 1 hour.
Glutinous Rice. When cooking glutinous rice (also known as sticky rice),
it is best to use much less liquid than for other short grain rices. Also, because
glutinous rice has a tough outer shell, it needs to be softened by soaking
in water before cooking otherwise the rice could remain hard inside.
Place the rice in a saucepan and cover with just under twice the amount of
water to rice by volume. Leave to soak for
at least 30 minutes and up to a few hours before cooking.
soaking, bring to the boil in the soaking water, then reduce the heat,
partially cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until all the liquid has
just been absorbed. Cover with a tight fitting lid, remove from the heat and
leave to stand for 10 minutes before serving. The rice can also
be cooked in the same manner using coconut milk or stock for a richer flavour.
Steaming. Many cooks prefer to steam their glutinous rice, wrapping it
in cheesecloth or the more traditional banana leaves if available. Soak the
rice as above, then drain and place in a steamer, wrapped if necessary, and steam for 30-40 minutes until
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