In Latin America we eat a lot of rice. Instead of using “meat & potatoes” we do meat & rice, or chicken & rice, or beans & rice, or pretty much anything & rice 🙂 Growing up we probably ate rice daily. In Venezuela it is very common to accompany every meal with white rice. Rice is used in savory dishes but it also makes its way to the table in sweet dishes like Arroz con Coco(Coconut Rice) or Arroz con Leche (Rice pudding). It’s not a surprise that my kids love rice!
Here are six different types of rice that have become a staple in my pantry so I can always mix it up and never be boring:
This kind of rice is one that I use more often to make plain white rice, even though it is not completely white due to the steaming process that is done before milling the grain. I can easily find it at the grocery store or any Latin store in town. I use parboiled rice as a side to any beef or chicken dish. The grain is a medium size and when cooked is fluffy and loose which is how my mom makes the rice. The usual ratio is 2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice. I’ll include the basic recipe at the bottom. Cooks in about 18 to 20 minutes.
This is a short grain rice, a little bit fat in the middle, mostly used for Risotto. The name Arborio comes from the region where the rice is typically grown in Italy. It is similar to Calasparra rice which is the Spanish version of the short grain used for preparing Paella and also derives its name after the region in Spain where it’s grown. The short grain rice is very starchy therefore is used to make creamy rice recipes. Arborio rice is easy to find at regular supermarkets or any Italian store like Gino’s, unlike Calasparra rice which I usually have to order online. It takes about 3 cups of liquid per cup of rice, or more if you are making creamy rice like Risotto. Cooks in about 20 to 25 minutes.
A long grain rice originally cultivated in India, also known as fragrant rice. Easy to find in the foreign food aisle at the store or at the Indian store. A less starchy type of rice is perfect to cook with chicken broth instead of water for extra flavor. I also use this rice for aromatic rice recipes like Cumin or Mustard Rice, adding the seeds to oil before cooking it. Also perfect for Coconut Rice. The water to rice ratio is 2 to 1 and it cooks in about 18 to 20 minutes. One of my favorites.
This is a long and very special kind of grain that grows in lake water and is native to North America. When cooked it has a chewy bite but it’s tender in the inside. It is also high in protein. I only use wild rice when making special dinners, it adds some sort of fancy factor since it is a more expensive rice and it takes a longer time to cook. I usually serve it with beef stew and I use it for salads too. The water to rice ratio is normally 3 to 1, it cooks in about 45 to 50 minutes. I like to add more liquid and when is tender to the bite I drain it, almost like you would with pasta. After is cooked I mix it in with other type of rice, like basmati or parboiled, but always cook them separately because of the amount of time it takes to cook.
Considered a whole grain, this type of rice is said to be the healthier version of white rice but I must confess: brown rice is my least favorite! There I said it!! It is not because of its texture or flavor, I actually do like the fact that it has a crunch to the bite and it has a nutty flavor. But for a rice that I should be eating more often it takes a long time to cook and I find it hard to cook to the right consistency. The ratio is 2 1/2 cup of liquid to 1 cup of rice. It cooks in about 45 minutes but I get better results when I soak it overnight. I use it to substitute white rice in any given meal and it’s also great for cold salads, like tuna salad.
This is my latest find in rice. I first had it when dining at Red Sushi Grill and the server called it forbidden rice because according to ancient Chinese legend it was so rare that only Emperors were allowed to eat it. I fell in love at the first bite and went on a hunt for it. You can find it in the healthy aisle at the grocery store. This type of rice is not only high in protein but also rich in antioxidants. It is chewy to the bite, slightly sweet with a nutty taste. Water to rice ratio is 2 to 1 and it cooks in about 35 minutes. Because of its color and sweetens it goes perfect with butternut squash or sweet potatoes. I can’t have enough of it!!!
White Rice Recipe
Here is the white rice recipe I make most often to feed my family of 4:
1 1/2 cup of parboiled rice
3 cups of water
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
Rinse the rice under running water. In a medium pan bring the water to a boil. Add salt, garlic and vinegar, add the rice and stir (this is the only time you will stir the rice). Cook on medium-high heat until the water is almost absorbed and you can see holes forming in the rice, about 12 minutes. Lower the heat and cover the pan, cook until the water is completely evaporated, about 6 minutes. Turn the heat off and let it sit covered for a couple of minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve. Enjoy!