Rice Recipe & Nutrition | Precision Nutrition's Encyclopedia of Food

Rice

Rice

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At a Glance

Rice is probably the single most commonly eaten food in the world, providing more than 20% of the calories consumed worldwide. Rice is thought to have originated in China, where evidence suggests it has been cultivated for over 9000 years. Rice can be long grain, medium grain, or short grain, and it can be processed (white rice) or unprocessed (brown rice). There are over 8000 varieties of rice. Some examples include: Basmati rice, arborio rice, sticky rice, jasmine rice, red rice, and black rice. Although flavor and texture vary slightly among types, rice generally has a soft, chewy texture, and a mild, starchy taste that is sometimes nutty and sometimes sweet. Rice is a carbohydrate-rich food and is also an excellent source of manganese. Given the fact that at some point, rice has found its way on nearly every person’s plate in the world, it can be said that rice is the food that unites us all.

Overview

Rice. You’ve heard of it, right?

Of course you have.

Rice is probably the single most commonly eaten food in the world. It provides more than 20% of the calories consumed worldwide, and for half of the world’s population, rice represents as much as half of daily calories consumed. In some Asian countries, the word “to eat” literally means “to eat rice.”

There are over 8,000 varieties in the Oryza sativa family, and preferences for type, processing, and method of preparation vary regionally.

For example, in India, basmati, a long grain aromatic rice with a drier texture is preferred. In Japan, sweet rice, a sticky short grain variety is favored, particularly in iconic dishes like sushi and mochi. In North America, step into any health food restaurant and you will find a dish based around brown rice, a chewier, unprocessed variety with the bran and the germ of the grain still intact.

Rice grows well in environments with heavy rainfall, although today, modern farming machinery ensures that rice crops receive uniform flooding and proper draining, independent of what the skies above are doing. This machinery has also largely taken over the harvesting process of rice, which is otherwise a very labor-intensive job.

Rice has been cultivated for thousands of years and is thought to have originated in China, possibly as far back as 7000 BC. Through a series of travels, crusades, and conquests, rice seeds have gradually scattered across the globe:

From China, rice first spread to various parts of Asia. Arab travelers brought rice into ancient Greece, and then Alexander the Great brought it to India. The Moors brought rice to Spain during their conquests, while the Crusaders brought rice to France. Rice spread gradually throughout southern Europe towards northern Africa. In the 17th century, the Spanish brought rice to South America during their colonization of this continent. Around the same time, slaves from West Africa brought rice to North America.

Rice, it seems, is the food that connects us all.

Today, Asia still dominates global rice production, with China and India being by far the biggest contributors.

Identification

Rice is a grain that comes in many different forms. Although you will find variation among different types, rice generally has a soft, chewy texture, and a mild, starchy taste that can be nutty or sweet. Unprocessed rice will typically be beige in color, whereas processed rice will be white.

Broadly speaking, rice can first be separated into three categories: Short, medium, or long grain.

Short-grain rice has a short kernel with rounded edges, and long grain rice has a long kernel with pointed edges. Medium grain rice looks like a merging of long and short grain rice.

Medium and short grain rice tend to be starchier, stickier, and sweeter. They can hold their shape better when molded, and with prolonged cooking, will break down faster. Therefore, shorter grains tend to be better for sushi, rice balls, or puddings.

Long grain rice tends to be drier with an airier taste. Its grains remain intact and separate after cooking, so long grain rice is ideal for pilaffs or salads, where clumping is undesired.

Beyond shape are the many different varieties of rice, whether they are distinguished by processing methods or species.

Rice can be completely unprocessed, as is the case with brown rice, which still has the bran and the germ intact, or it can be processed (either a little or a lot).

Some examples of processed rice include:

  • White rice, which is processed by polishing the rice kernels until only the starchy white endosperm remains.
  • Parboiled rice, which is partially boiled while it is still in the husk, and then polished. This process not only renders the grain faster to cook but during the boiling process, many of the nutrients from the bran and the germ are driven into the endosperm, creating a more nutritious polished rice.
  • Instant rice, which has been polished, fully cooked, and then dehydrated. This process dramatically reduces the cooking time when it is finally reconstituted.

Finally, there are a variety of different types of rice with distinct flavor or color profiles. Here are a few examples:

  • Basmati: An aromatic long grain rice grown in Northern India and Pakistan. It has a nutty flavor, a delicate texture, and cooks relatively quickly.
  • Jasmine: A soft-textured long grain aromatic rice with a subtle jasmine perfume. Also known as Thai fragrant rice.
  • Arborio: A short grain rice with plump, starchy kernels that become creamy when stirred with liquid. Traditionally used to make risotto.
  • Red rice: A brick-colored unprocessed rice with a chewy texture and a nutty, earthy taste.
  • Black rice: An unprocessed short grain rice that turns blackish-purple when cooked. It has a sweet taste and a sticky texture. Also known as forbidden rice.
  • Sticky rice: A short grain white rice with very round kernels that get very sticky upon cooking. Also called Chinese rice or glutinous rice (although it contains no gluten).

Please note that wild rice, although its name would suggest otherwise, is not actually part of the Oryza family.

Nutrition Info

One cup of cooked medium-grain brown rice (about 195g) has 218 calories, 4.5g protein, 1.6g of fat, 45.8g carbohydrates, and 3.5g fiber. Brown rice is an excellent source of manganese and a good source of selenium and phosphorus.

Note that nutritional differences will exist among different types of rice, depending on the species and how they are processed. For example, unprocessed brown rice will have more fiber and more micronutrients than processed white rice.

Selection

Rice, in its many different forms, can be found in packages or in bulk. It is a ubiquitous food item and can be found at most stores that sell food around the world.

When buying rice, shop at quality stores with good product turnover, and if shopping in bulk, stores with covered bins.

Although rice has a long shelf life, it can go stale or become rancid. This is particularly true of whole grain varieties which will contain a greater proportion of naturally-occurring oils. If you have the opportunity, sniff your sample of rice before purchasing. It should smell slightly sweet and nutty. If it smells bitter or musty, it is likely past its prime.

If purchasing rice in packages, make sure the package is intact and free of signs of moisture or insect invasion. Read the ingredients label to ensure that your product only contains one ingredient: Rice.

Storage

Due to the presence of the oil-rich germ, whole grain rice varieties will have a shorter shelf life than processed white rice. Brown rice should be kept in an airtight container in a dark, dry cupboard for up to three months, or in the fridge for up to six months.

White rice is more stable and may be kept in an airtight container in a dry, dark area such as a cupboard for up to a year.

Once rice is cooked, store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days, or freeze for up to three months.

Preparation

Rice must be cooked before consuming it. Depending on the type of rice you have purchased, this may take anywhere from 2 to 50 minutes. Instant or minute rice cooks in a jiffy, whereas a whole grain brown rice requires more patience.

For information on how to cook specific varieties of rice, follow package directions or consult your friend The Internet.

Here is how to cook brown rice:

Before cooking, give the rice a quick rinse by placing the kernels in a colander and running cool water over it for a minute or so, shuffling the grains with your hands as you rinse.

After rinsing, add water or broth to a pot and bring to a boil. For brown rice, use one part rice to two parts liquid. Add the rice, stir, and bring the liquid back to a boil. Once it is boiling, turn down the heat, cover the pot with a lid, and simmer for about 40-50 minutes. Stir once or twice in the interim to ensure the rice isn’t sticking to the bottom. If the water gets too low, add a splash of liquid. If there is too much liquid, simmer with the lid off for a few minutes. The rice will be done when most of the liquid has evaporated and the kernels are chewy and delicious.

Serve rice with your favorite veggies and protein, as a base for a hearty sauce, sprinkled in a salad, or as part of a stir-fry. Rice is like a blank canvas – decorate it with any food you like.

Recipe: VEGGIE-PACKED SHRIMP FRESH ROLLS WITH SAVORY CARAMEL DIPPING SAUCE

Rice

Half recipe and half arts and crafts project, these rice paper fresh rolls are as beautiful as they are delicious. These rolls are packed with a rainbow of fresh veggies and shrimp and served with a decadent savory caramel sauce. Fun to make and fun to eat!

Ingredients

   
Rolls:
shrimp, cooked, cooled, and peeled
16
lime, juiced
1/2
sea salt
pinch of
rice paper wraps
16
fresh mint leaves, lightly packed
1 cup
green onions, butts and green tips removed, sliced in fine rounds
2 cups
red bell pepper, finely sliced
2 cups
grated carrots
2 cups
purple cabbage, finely sliced
2 cups
   
    
   
Sauce:
unsalted butter
4 tbsp
blonde or white miso paste
2 tbsp
brown rice syrup
1/2 cup

Directions

Prep Time: 50 minutes   Cook Time: 5 minutes   Yield: 2-8 servings

For the rolls:

Add shrimp to a small bowl with lime juice and sea salt. Toss to coat, and let marinate for at least 15 minutes.

Once the shrimp are finished marinating, have your fresh roll fillings prepped and easily accessible in separate bowls. Fill a large, shallow pan with warm water; this is what you will use to hydrate the rice paper wraps. (Note: If the water cools too much, the rice paper may not hydrate properly, so you may have to replace the water partway through.) You will also need two large plates: One for assembling the rolls and another for the finished rolls.

Make the fresh roll first place one rice paper wrap in the water, making sure it is completely submerged. Allow to sit for 10-20 seconds, until soft. Carefully lift the wrap out of the water, making sure to not let it fold up on itself too much and stick together. Lay wrap on a large plate; try to smooth out the wrinkles and folds as much as possible, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. Hydrate another wrap, and place it on top of the other wrap.

Next, arrange the fillings on the 2-layer wrap. Place 2 shrimp in a row near one edge of the wrap. Along the same row, arrange a few mint leaves, a sprinkle of green onions, some red pepper slices, some grated carrot, and some sliced cabbage. Be careful not to pile the fillings too much.

Now, fold the wrap. First, secure the ends by folding them over the fillings to make sure they don’t spill out as the roll is rolled lengthwise. Next, take the edge closest to the fillings and fold it lengthwise over the row of fillings. Then, simply roll the rest of the roll into a burrito-like wrapping, making sure the fillings are tucked in and tight in the wrap as you go.

Finally, place the finished roll onto a separate plate, and repeat the process for the next roll. Makes about 8 rolls.

If you have extra fillings after making 8 rolls, either make more rolls to use up the fillings or add to a salad at another meal.

Makes about 8 rolls. Serves two as a meal and up to eight as an appetizer. Eat immediately.

For the sauce:

Add butter to a small saucepan over medium heat and melt until liquid. Lower heat, add miso paste, and whisk until combined. Add brown rice syrup, whisk until smooth, and remove from heat. Serve warm. (Sauce will harden if cooled / refrigerated.)

Serve with fresh rolls, drizzling a bit of sauce over every bite.

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At a Glance

Rice is probably the single most commonly eaten food in the world, providing more than 20% of the calories consumed worldwide. Rice is thought to have originated in China, where evidence suggests it has been cultivated for over 9000 years. Rice can be long grain, medium grain, or short grain, and it can be processed (white rice) or unprocessed (brown rice). There are over 8000 varieties of rice. Some examples include: Basmati rice, arborio rice, sticky rice, jasmine rice, red rice, and black rice. Although flavor and texture vary slightly among types, rice generally has a soft, chewy texture, and a mild, starchy taste that is sometimes nutty and sometimes sweet. Rice is a carbohydrate-rich food and is also an excellent source of manganese. Given the fact that at some point, rice has found its way on nearly every person’s plate in the world, it can be said that rice is the food that unites us all.