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Rice Around the World

There is much more to rice than the familiar bags on grocery aisles. You'll find a wide world of rice recipes that go beyond the white stuff.

If you have limited yourself to white rice from a box or a plastic bag, it's time to break out and discover some unique rice variations from around the world.

Many of these rice products are now carried at your local grocery or specialty market. If you can't find them locally, then shop the on-line stores.

Arborio and Carnaroli
You'll find two popular medium-grain Italian rice products on the market: Arborio and Carnaroli. Both are used to make risotto, but experts say that carnaroli is the preferred product. When shopping for arborio, look for the "superfino" labeling if it is imported.

Basmati is long-grain rice and staple of India. It is grown in the Himalayan foothills; the best imports are labeled Patna or Dehra Dun, although basmati is also grown in the States. When cooked, the grain only gains length and not width. Basmati rice must be rinsed many times to remove the starches, which also makes it more absorbent.

This long-grain rice is used frequently in Thai dishes. By its very name, you may have guessed that it is a fragrant rice. It is similar to Basmati rice. An Americanized version is available.

Glutinous Rice
Also known as sticky rice or sweet rice. It is popular in dishes originating in Japan, China, Thailand, and Vietnam. The grains become "sticky" when cooked; they will clump together, but not cling to hands. Sticky rice is used alongside main dishes, but you'll see it included in dessert recipes as well. Many homes have it available throughout the day for snacking. It is rolled into a ball and dipped into an accompanying sauce. Black sticky rice is heavier and the taste is different from its white counterpart. This rice, when prepared, is best for nibbling only, as it is generally indigestible. After soaking, it turns red.

Good old White and Brown Rice
Brown rice is sturdier than white rice as it goes through just enough processing to remove the outer hull. The remaining layers are the reason behind a longer cooking time and its different taste. White rice has been milled to remove all the bran layers. White rice grown in the U.S. is nutrient-enriched and shouldn't be rinsed before cooking.

Wild Rice
This is not really a rice at all, but is the "pod" from wild grasses.

This is a basic list of rice from around the world. Visit your local market to see what is available and get ready to explore some interesting recipes.

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