Rice

Rice

Rice
© Denzil Green


Rice is a grain that, just like wheat, is a member of the grass family. The stalks grow anywhere from 2 to 6 feet tall (60 to 180 cm), and bloom with flowers that produce the grain as its seed. In Europe, it is grown in Northern Italy, and in some parts of Spain. It is, of course, also grown throughout Asia.

Contrary to popular belief, Rice doesn't grow only in Rice paddies -- fields flooded with water. Some varieties of Rice also grow on hills.

For the most part, Rice is described based on the size of its grain, and the degree of processing it has had.

Whenever a recipe or someone refers to "Rice", unless they specify a type, what is meant is white Rice.

Cooking Tips

When figuring out how much Rice to cook, remember that Rice always basically triples in volume after cooking.


The first cooking tip for Rice is to get a Rice steamer, preferably a multipurpose one such as that made by Black & Decker which you can use for other foods as well. Having a Rice steamer takes all the stress out of cooking Rice.

Failing that, here are the two other methods to try.

Method 1) Per cup (11 oz / 300g) of Rice, bring to a boil in a large saucepan 2 cups (16 oz / 475 ml) of water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Slowly pour in (don't stir) the Rice; don't dump it all in at once. Now give it the most desultory of stirs, then reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Method 2) Heat 1 tablespoon oil or butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Pour in 1 cup (11 oz / 300g) of Rice, stir around to coat, and cook until Rice turns a bit transparent, about 5 minutes. (optional: you can even cook a bit longer, until the kernels just start to brown, if you want a nuttier tasting Rice.) Slowly pour in 2 cups (16 oz / 475 ml) of already boiling water from the kettle, stir in 1 teaspoon of salt, cover, and then cook for 15 minutes.

Now, here's where it all goes to hell in a handbasket for most people: for either method, if all the water has gone but the Rice is not tender, add a few tablespoons of boiling water, cover and cook a bit more. If water has remained but the Rice is cooked, remove cover and cook a minute or two until the water is gone.

Unless you are making Risotto, don't stir Rice while it is cooking, as stirring it will make it sticky. The wider the mouth on your pot, the better your Rice will cook.

To make a thicker soup, throw in a few handfuls of leftover cooked Rice towards the end.

When reheating leftover rice in a microwave, add 1 teaspoon of water per cup of cooked, leftover rice.

Substitutes

Bulgur Wheat, various Grain Berries, Couscous.

Nutrition

Wholegrain and Brown Rice are the same thing. When the Rice grain is husked, the Rice is brown in colour. This is what is known as wholegrain or Brown Rice. Further refining to make the white Rice removes the brown exterior. Brown Rices are more nutritious than white because the brown layer retains some of the nutrients found in the husk; however, in Spain and Italy they would look at you as though you were mad if you suggested making a Risotto or Paella from Brown Rice.


Rice has absolutely no gluten.

Equivalents

1 pound of Rice = 2 1/2 cups uncooked = 8 cups cooked = 1 kg / 36 oz in weight

1 kilo Rice = 2.2 pounds = 4 1/2 cups uncooked
300g rice uncooked = 1 cup / 11 oz uncooked = 425g (3 1/4 cups / 14 1/2 oz ) cooked
1 cup (11 oz / 300g) Rice uncooked = 3 1/4 cups (14 1/2 oz / 425g ) cooked
1 cup rice, cooked, lightly packed = (4 1/2 oz / 130g) in weight
2 cups (9 oz / 260g) rice, cooked = 3/4 cup (8 1/4 oz / 235g), uncooked

Storage Hints

You can freeze cooked Rice for up to a year. You'll thank yourself if you freeze it in meal size portions, rather than in one huge lump, so that you can haul it out of the freezer for adding to soups or casseroles, or even just to serve on the side.


Store any Rice in a sealed container in a dry, cool place. With the exception of Brown Rice, Rice will keep indefinitely.

History Notes

Rice is probably native to both China and India.

Literature & Lore

"Three pound of sugar, five pound of currants, rice... what will this sister of mine do with Rice?" -- Clown. The Winter's Tale, Act IV, Scene 3. Shakespeare.

Language Notes

The Spanish word for rice, "arroz", comes from the Arabic word for rice, "aruz."