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Rice is a staple across much of the world, especially in Asian countries like China, Japan, India, the Philippines and Korea, where most people don’t go a day without eating rice during one of their meals. But how much do we really know about the many different types of rice? It can be confusing to figure out what to pick at the grocery store, which is why we have put together this handy guide below!
All rice varieties come in a brown rice variety. This is because brown rice is basically any type of rice that has not been polished. Brown rice is the unprocessed, whole grain variety of white rice. Brown rice is also known as hulled rice or unmilled rice. Brown rice varieties are chewier and rougher than polished rice varieties though it is far richer in nutrients than polished rice. In most health food cafes, the brown rice served in long grain brown rice.
Arborio rice is a type of Italian short grain rice from the northern Italian region of Piedmont that is very high in starch compared to other rice types. This short, round pearly rice is extremely absorbent, which is why it is perfect for the dish is it most famous for, risotto, which requires a great deal of stock and wine to plump up the grains into the almost porridge-like consistency that foodies loves. Arborio rice is available in white and brown varieties though brown arborio is rare, and difficult to find. Arborio is a type of Japonica rice (the rice used in most Japanese food- see below).
Jasmine Rice/Thai Fragrant Rice
Jasmine rice, also know as Thai fragrant rice, is long-grain rice with a nutty, sweet flavour and jasmine-like fragrance originally from Thailand. It is the most common type of rice found in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, used for all their respective cuisines in dishes. Jasmine rice is great for fried rice dishes as it retains its shape during cooking. While it is not at all glutinous, Jasmine rice does exhibit some stickiness, working well in a dish like congee. Brown varieties are available.
Red Cargo Rice
Red Cargo rice is a non-glutinous, long-grain rice with a red or purple bran from Thailand. It is unpolished (the bran is left on, though the husk is removed) and fairly unprocessed, making it a rich sources of nutrients like thiamin, riboflavin, iron and calcium. Red Cargo rice has a sweet and nutty flavour. It is mostly consumed in Thailand and Vietnam. Red Cargo Rice is unpolished so there are no brow varieties per se.
Red Rice/ Rose Matta Rice/Kerala Matta Rice
Indian red rice is an unpolished rice with a red color originally from South India. Rose Matta is the polished version of Red rice. Both are widely consumed in India’s Keralan station and in Sri Lanka. Rose Matta Rice is a polished rice with a pink hue, a coarse texture and a nutty, earthy flavor. It is often chosen to accompany gamey meat dishes like goat or lamb.
You might be familiar with the long-grain, thin rice you eat covered in an Indian curry: this is Basmati Rice, the most common type of rice in India, Pakistan and the Middle Eastern. It is a dry type of rice without any stickiness at all, which is why it goes perfectly with curry gravies. Compared to other types of rice, Basmati Rice has a relatively low natural sugar content so it is an ideal choice for those who are insulin sensitive. It is available in brown varieties.
Black Rice/Purple Rice
Black rice, also known as purple rice, is a type of glutinous rice which is particularly sticky in texture when cooked. It originated in China and is still popular there. It an also be found in China and Thailand, where it is a main ingredient of desserts. Black rice is unpolished so there are no brown varieties. per se.
Japanese Rice/Korean Rice/Short Grain Rice/Sushi Rice/Uruchimai
Japanese rice, also know as Korean rice, short grain rice and most famously as sushi rice, is a round, short-grain rice with a sticky consistency and translucent color used in most dishes of Japanese and Korean cuisine. It is a type of Japonica rice and it originally came from China. It is available in brown varieties.
Glutinous Rice/Mochigome/Sticky Rice
Glutinous rice, sometimes called sticky rice or sweet rice, is also a type of Japonica short-grain rice originally from China. It is used widely across Asia in glutinous dessert recipes such as mochi in Japan or sticky rice in pandan leaves in the Philippines. Brown varieties are available.
Wild rice is actually not a rice at all! It is a type of grass, found mostly in the Northern US and Canada. Loved by the health-conscious all over for its high fibre, low starch makeup, it is very expensive because it grows in the wild and must be collected by hand.