There’s a lot more to rice than meets the eye! Did you know that there are thousands of varieties grown around the world? And that on average, Canadians eat about seven kilograms of rice per person every year? To keep things easy for you, we feature only the best varieties, each one grown in and imported directly from the more bountiful regions of the world. The number one question we are asked at trade shows is, “What’s the difference?” Below we have provided a brief overview of the main types of rice and what distinguishes them from each other. This should help to give you a better understanding of which kind will fit in best with you and your family.
Brown rice has the outer hull removed — they simply polish the rice in water mist tumblers to remove the bran and reveal the white grain inside. but it still retains the bran layers which are what give it its tan colour, chewy texture, and nut-like flavour. Retaining the nutrient-dense bran layer makes brown rice 100% whole grain, and rich in minerals and vitamins, especially the B-complex group. Regular brown rice cooks in 40 to 45 minutes — but the added nutrients and fibre in brown rice makes it well worth the wait!
For more information about the health benefits of brown rice please click here.
Due to its starch composition, it is light and fluffy and falls off your fork. Its kernel is long and slender and is three to four times longer than its width. Long grain rice has no aromatic or floral notes. Harvested once per year in the fall, usually in October, it is are best for side dishes, pilaffs, and salads, and very popular in Mexican dishes.
Medium grain rice is two to three times longer than its width, producing a shorter, wider kernel than long grain rice. Cooked medium grain rice is more moist and tender than long grain, and the grains have a greater tendency to cling together, hence the reason it is referred to as sticky rice. It is well suited for paella, desserts, and sushi. Medium grain rice is harvested once per year in the fall, usually in October.
Classified as medium grain rice, this is a large, bold rice with a characteristic white dot at the centre of the grain. Arborio rice is primarily used in risotto because it absorbs flavours particularly well and develops a creamy texture around a chewy centre. Other risotto varieties include Carnaroli, Vialone Nano, Roma, and Baldo. Risotto rice varieties are available in different grades. The highest grade and most popular is superfino. After superfino, the grades decrease from fino, semifino, to commune.
Short grain rice has a short, plump, almost round kernel. Cooked grains are soft and cling together, yet remain separate and are somewhat chewy, with a slight springiness to the bite. Harvested once per year in the fall, usually in October, it is a great choice for sushi or rice pudding.
Sweet Rice (also known as sticky or glutinous rice)
This is fat and very sticky short rice that has a chalky white, opaque kernel. It makes great sushi and is used in dim sum dishes, such as Lo Mai Gai, and other various Asian desserts. When cooked, sweet rice loses its shape and becomes very sticky and glutinous. This rice is also harvested once per year in the fall, usually in October.
Jasmin rice is also known as Thai fragrant rice, a name that refers to the beautiful jasmin fragrance. This long grain rice has a light, floral flavour. Cooked grains are soft, moist, and cling together. Jasmin rice is used many Thai dishes, accepting sauces well, and can be substituted in recipes calling for long grain rice with superior results. The pleasant jasmin scent will emanate from your kitchen and anyone who walks into your kitchen and is familiar with jasmin rice will know exactly what’s cooking. Jasmin is harvested three times a year.
Basmati is an aromatic long grain rice that needs to soak for 20 minutes before cooking. While it is great in Indian dishes, it is suitable for virtually any dish. Its distinct aroma and flavour is similar to that of popcorn or roasted nuts — a pleasant fragrance that will emanate from your kitchen. When cooked, it swells only lengthwise, resulting in long slender grains that are dry, separate, and fluffy. Basmati rice is aged so that each grain loses the appropriate moisture content. This further helps the rice become light and fluffy with that classic fall-off-your-fork characteristic. Harvested just once per year in the fall, Basmati ranks the lowest of all rice on the glycemic index, making it more suitable for diabetics.
Aromatic Thai Red Rice
Thai red rice is a medium grain variety of rice that is cultivated primarily in Thailand, hence the name. This aromatic red variety has a savoury, nutty flavour and adds colour to dishes. Interestingly, the red colour is caused from clay in the soil that stains its husk red. Like brown rice, it takes longer to cook and is slightly chewier than white rice.
Black Japonica Rice
Black Japonica is a combination of Asian black short grain rice and medium grain mahogany rice that are grown together in the same field. It has a dark black bran and its dark colour turns the cooking water purple. When cooked it is slightly chewy and provides a nutty mushroom flavour coupled with a subtle, sweet spiciness. Excellent in stuffing, casseroles, and side dishes, black japonica rice is full of natural vitamins, minerals, and fibre.
Wild rice is actually not rice at all! Rather, it’s a type of grass that grows a long stalk and thrives in deep water. This is the only “rice” that grows in Canada, the best coming from Saskatchewan. All wild rice is sold with the bran on the kernel (like brown rice) and this gives it its black appearance. It has a rich, nutty flavour and a delightfully chewy texture.
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