Types of Rice

It is another #Tuesdaytips and this week we are covering rice. Rice is a staple in many Asian and African dishes. In Arab cuisine, rice is an ingredient of many soups and dishes with fish, poultry, and other types of meat. It is used to stuff vegetables or is wrapped in grape leaves (dolma). When combined with milk, sugar, and honey, it is used to make desserts. In some regions, such as Tabaristan, bread is made using rice flour. Rice may be made into congee(also called rice porridge or rice gruel) by adding more water than usual, so that the cooked rice is saturated with water, usually to the point that it disintegrates. Rice porridge is commonly eaten as a breakfast food, and is a traditional food for the sick.

Parts of a Rice Grain

The following anatomy terms may be used throughout this guide when discussing the differences in types of rice. 

Rice Anatomy

Hull

– Each grain of rice is enclosed in a tough outer hull, or husk, that needs to be removed before it can be consumed. This layer is removed in all rice types. 

Bran

– Under the hull, the bran layer is not removed in all rice types. This nutritious whole grain section is usually tan-colored, but it may be reddish or black depending on the pigmentation in the bran layers. The bran layer may be consumed, but it is often removed when further processing rice.

White Rice

– Once the bran and germ layers are removed, white rice remains. Known as the endosperm, this is the part of the rice that is most commonly consumed. 

Germ

– Found under the hull, the germ, or rice kernel, is nutrient-dense. Full of B vitamins, minerals, and proteins, it helps give rice its color and added nutritional benefits. 

Types of Rice

Length and Shape

Rice is often characterized as one of three varieties – long grain, medium grain, or short grain rice. These varieties refer to the length and shape of the grain. Simply speaking, long grain rice will have a longer cylindrical shape, whereas short grain rice will be shorter and wider.

Clear bowl full of long grain white rice on a gray surface

Long Grain Rice

This rice has milled grains that are at least three to four times as long as they are wide. Due to its starch composition, it is separate, light and fluffy when cooked. 

Brown wooden bowl full of medium grain white rice on a white surface

Medium Grain Rice

When compared to long grain rice, medium grain rice has a shorter, wider kernel. Since the cooked grains are more moist and tender than long grain rice, the rice has a greater tendency to stick together.

Clear bowl full of short grain brown rice on a gray surface

Short Grain Rice

Featuring grains that are less than twice as long as they are wide, this rice is short and best for sushi. It has a sticky texture when cooked.

Texture

When cooking rice dishes, you’ll want to think about the desired texture of the rice. The starch content varies from rice type to rice type. It will affect whether rice is sticky or light and fluffy.

Brown wooden bowl full of white sticky rice

Sticky Rice

Also known as sweet rice, sticky rice is grown mainly in Southeast and East Asia and is used in many traditional Asian dishes, desserts, and sweets. When cooked, sticky rice is especially sticky and is often ground into rice flour.

White bowl full of white parboiled rice on a gray surface

Parboiled Rice

This “rough” rice has gone through a steam-pressure process before milling that gelatinizes the starch in the grain. This process produces a more separate grain that is light and fluffy when cooked. Converted rice is a type of parboiled rice that has been further pre-cooked, which ultimately allows you to whip up dishes of rice even faster.

Color

Rice is naturally brown after harvesting, but once the nutrient-rich outer layer of bran is removed, it is white in color. Red rice, black rice, and purple rice all feature unique pigmentation in the bran. For these colorful rice varieties, the bran layer usually remains for added visual appeal and added nutritional value.

Pile of white polished rice grains

Polished Rice

The term “polished” simply refers to white rice that has had its outer brown layer of bran and germ removed. Rice that has shed its bran layers can also be referred to as “milled rice.”

Pile of brown rice grains

Brown Rice

This healthful rice sheds its outer husk and retains its bran and germ layers that give it a characteristic tan color. Though brown rice takes a little longer to cook than white rice, the nutrient-dense layers are rich in vitamins and minerals.

Pile of black and purple rice grains

Forbidden Black Rice

High in nutritional value, this rice is also known as black rice and has a mild nutty flavor. Slightly sticky when cooked, it is used in a variety of Chinese or Thai dishes, including Chinese black rice cake and mango sticky rice. Mix it with white rice, and it also adds color to any rice pilaf or rice bowl. 

Pile of black and green wild rice grains

Wild Rice

Wild rice grains are harvested from the genus Zizania of grasses. High in protein, wild rice adds a colorful, exotic flair to any rice dish. Serve it with stir frys, mushroom soups, or casseroles for something new.

Aroma

Aroma is another factor to consider when cooking with rice. Certain rice varieties give off pleasing fragrances while being cooked. Add a sensory element to your guests’ dining experience with these rice types.

Clear bowl full of brown basmati rice on a gray surface

Basmati Rice

Basmati rice is a type of long-grain rice that is popular among Indian cuisine and other ethnic dishes. Cooked basmati rice imparts a subtle nutty or popcorn-like flavor and aroma.

Pile of white jasmine rice on a gray surface

Jasmine Rice

Jasmine rice, sometimes known as Thai fragrant rice, is a type of long grain rice with a long kernel and slightly sticky texture when cooked. Use it to infuse a subtle jasmine flavor and aroma into your dishes.