"For each of us there is some mission in life if we but find it. All have some definite thing to do, something for which they have been created; and only the doing of this thing will justify their existence here on earth. If we come into the world and occupy space and time without giving back for this privilege, we have not justified ourselves, and our lives in the end are barren." ~ Hay

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rice 101

Have you ever looked at all the different packages or bins of rice and wondered which one to buy?  It gets confusing.  What’s the difference between short, medium and long grain rice?  Should I choose brown over white rice?  What is brown basmati rice, jasmine rice, golden rose rice, sweet brown rice, wild rice and arborio rice?  Recently, while shopping in the bulk aisle of Wild By Nature in East Setauket, I picked up some wehani rice.  What is that?? Hmmmm…..This might be harder than I thought.  Maybe  I should change the title to Rice 301…..

White Rice - White rice is created by removing the brain and germ portions of brown rice.  Therefore, it loses most of its natural vitamins and minerals.  Manufacturers add synthetic vitamins back to the rice and call it "fortified white rice."  The dietary fiber in white rice is 1/4 of that found in brown rice.  This is not a whole food.  White rice is a simple carbohydrate (just like sugar!), the worst kind of carb you can eat.


Brown rice is a nutritious whole grain providing carbohydrates, fiber, protein, B vitamins and several minerals such as manganese and selenium.  A whole grain of rice has several layers.  Only the outermost layer, the hull, is removed to produce brown rice. Thus, it retains much of its nutrients.  There are no significant nutritional differences between short, medium and long grain brown rice.

Short Grain Brown Rice - Because short grain rice is smaller than its medium and long grain counterparts, it tends to be more starchy.  Therefore, when this rice cooks, it will be more sticky.  This is better suited for recipes where a creamy texture is desired such as puddings, paella and risotto.

Medium Grain Brown Rice - Medium grain brown rice yields a lighter, fluffier, dish than short grain rice.  Its soft texture is great in soups, stuffing's and dishes such as fried rice.

Long Grain Brown Rice - This rice has a chewier texture and contains lots of vitamins and fiber.  This rice is great all by itself or cooked in broth.

Arborio Rice -  This rice was named after a tiny town in North-West Italy.  It is a short grain starchy rice which absorbs and binds the liquids it cooks in.  Arborio is more like a white than a brown rice, but is almost always unpolished, which means it retains much of the nutrients in the husk.  Since the rice is creamy in texture, it is a must for making risotto.
Brown Basmati RiceThis long grain brown rice has a mild nutty flavor to it.  It works well as a side dish and also well in gratin, salads and stir fries.  The American variety (texmati) and the variety grown in India are more nutritious than its cousin, white basmati.
Golden Rose RiceThe Lundberg family grows this organic rice.   It has a chewy texture and a sweet flavor.  This rice is kosher and gluten-free.  Great as a side dish.
Jasmine Rice – This aromatic long grain rice comes in a brown and white rice variety.  Great in side dishes, pilafs or desserts.
Sweet Brown Rice - Sweet brown rice is very popular among certain ethnic groups.  It has a waxy texture and is very glutinous.  It is primarily used for sticky sweets, snacks and desserts.  It can also be found in Japanese sushi.
 Wehani RiceThis brown rice is very nutritious and has a chewy texture when cooked.  This dark long grain rice is grown in Northern California.  This can be used in stuffing’s, salads and pilaf. **(See recipe below)
Wild Rice – Is a combination of different rice’s usually containing brown rice, sweet brown rice, wehani and other select rice’s.  It is great in stuffing’s and pilaf.  It pairs nice with seafood.

*Helpful Tips:
·    It’s better to rinse your rice before  cooking it (especially if you buy it in the bulk bin).  You never know if the rice is dirty or what might be clinging to it.
·    Most rice cooks well on a 2 to 1 ratio (2 cups liquid to 1 cup rice).  I usually add some type of broth instead of water for the liquid.  
·    Brown rice takes about 50 minutes to 1 hour to cook.  It’s always best to follow package instructions or do the taste test.
·    Brown rice should be stored in an air-tight container and will keep for about six months. If a good container is not available it should be stored in the fridge.
  • ***Research recently published by Andrew Mehanrg and colleagues from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland (see footnote) suggests that some non-organic  U.S. long grain rice may have 1.4 to 5 times more arsenic than rice from Europe, India or Bangladesh. For this reason, select organically grown rice whenever possible.  For any crop to be labeled as organic, including rice, stringent testing of soils for contaminants, including arsenic, must be passed.
All this talk of rice made me want to experiment with the Wehani rice I purchased.   The recipe below came out really good.  I found the texture of this rice to be sticky, not what I expected:

    Wehani Rice with Spinach
    1 Cup Wehani rice
    2 Cups broth (chicken, vegetable or water)
    ¼ Cup toasted sesame seeds
    1 Small onion, finely chopped
    2 Cups spinach, washed and chopped
    ½ Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
    ½ tsp. tamari
    2 tsp. butter
    1 tsp. honey
    Sea salt and pepper to taste

    In saucepan, boil 2 cups of liquid.  When mixture comes to a boil, add rice.  Cover and cook until done, approximately  45 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350.  Toast sesame seeds for 5 minutes.  In saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.  Add onion and sauté until translucent.  Add spinach and sauté until wilted.  When rice is cooked, add spinach mixture and sesame seeds to rice.  Stir.  Mix additional ingredients in a small bowl.  Add to rice. Toss to combine….Serve

    ·         Williams PN, Price AH, Raab A, Hossain A, Feldmann J, Meharg AA. Variation in arsenic speciation and concentration in paddy rice related to dietary exposure. Environ. Sci. Technol., 2005 July;39 (15):5531-5540. 2005. PMID:16124284.


    Jennifer said...

    This was very helpful, thank you.

    Anonymous said...

    Good Morning Christine, I just wanted to tell you that I loved your blog about rice. Im going shopping for brown rice today !! HaHa. But the story that you wrote about the Kristen statue and being born lucky got to me more then I expected,Its so true. It brought tears to my eyes and goosebumps to my arms. (I swear)...You did a great job. Thanks ♥ Kathy

    Anonymous said...

    Thanks for the info re: rice. Steve wants to know what you think of Rice-a-Roni? I know what you are going to say.