Thursday, August 21, 2014


How popular is rice? It's simply the most consumed food in the world. Asian dishes may come first when you think of rice, but don't forget Italian risotto, Spanish paella, and the rice and bean dishes popular throughout Mexico and Central and Southern America.

The Long and Short of It

How rice is classified, as well as how it's best cooked, depends mainly on the length of the grain.

Long-grain rice

Long and slender with a length that's four to five times its width. Because its grains stay separate, light and fluffy, it's perfect as a side dish.

Short-grain rice

Short and plump; only slightly longer than it is wide. Its moist grains stick together when cooked and stay tender even at room temperature — think sushi.

Medium-grain rice

Falls somewhere between long and short, with grains about twice as long as they are wide. Risotto is made with medium-grain rice, as is paella.
Most varieties are sold as either brown or white rice, depending upon how they are milled.
Brown rice is unmilled and retains the bran and germ that surrounds the kernel, giving it a chewy texture and a flavor often described as nutty. It takes longer to cook brown rice and it's more nutritious. Because of the oil in the bran and germ, it spoils more easily and so it should be kept refrigerated.
White rice has had its bran and germ milled away. It cooks up tender and delicate, but it is somewhat less nutritious than brown, which is why it is sometimes fortified.

Cooking Rice

Different varieties of rice are best when cooked using a particular method. Be sure to follow recipe instructions to get the best flavor and texture from your rice.

Absorption Method

This is the most popular method, using a set amount of rice and a set amount of water, for a set amount of time. By the time the water is absorbed, the rice should be tender.

Steaming Method

This is usually the preferred method for cooking sticky and clinging rices. Rice is soaked, drained and put in a steaming basket set over a pot or wok of boiling water and cooked by steam alone, without the rice ever touching the boiling liquid.

Boiling Method

In this method, the rice is cooked much like pasta. Though this may sound appealingly easy and foolproof, it actually requires almost as much attention as does the absorption method. The rice is sprinkled into a large pot of boiling salted water, then stirred often to prevent sticking. When tender, it is thoroughly drained, then rinsed quickly to halt cooking. Sticky and clinging rices do not do well with this method, but many other varieties do fine.
Basic directions for absorption


This step removes surface starch and should only be done when you want the grains to remain quite separate, as in Indian basmati rice. For most rice preparations, do not rinse.


The general ratio is 1 cup rice to 1-1/2 or 2 cups water, plus 1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Place rice, salt and water in a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid.


Bring water and salt to a boil in a heavy pan with a tight-fitting lid. Add rice, bring back to a boil, stir once, cover and simmer over low heat until the grains are tender.

Cooking and Serving Rice

Cooking Tips

  • Use a sturdy pot with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Add salt for flavor.
  • Substitute liquids for water for more flavorful rice: try half broth, some orange juice or a little wine.
  • Don't peek! Lifting the lid will interrupt cooking.
  • For rice at its best, let it rest. After cooking time is up, let the rice stand off the heat for at least 5 minutes before serving.
  • Use a fork or a chopstick to fluff rice. Gentle handling will keep grains separate, not mushy.
  • If you cook a lot of rice, consider an electric rice cooker.

Rice: Cooking Tips and Serving Suggestions

Grain to Liquid
Basic Cooking Method
Arborio Rice (white)
Soft and creamy. Best used in risotto recipes. 1 cup to 3/4 cups After an initial toasting of the grains in butter or oil, liquid (usually broth) is added gradually as rice is stirred to create a rich almost saucelike result.
Basmati (white imported and brown)
A long-grain, highly aromatic, hulled rice from India. Usually aged for a year to develop its full flavor. White: 1 cup to 1-1/2 cups
Brown: 1 cup to 2 cups
Soak and rinse rice for 30 minutes. Simmer white basmati 15 minutes. Simmer brown 45 minutes.
Brown Rice (long grain)
Tends to remain separate and fluffy when cooked. Great for pilafs, rice salads and paella. 1 cup to 2 cups Simmer 45 minutes.
Brown Rice (medium grain)
Similar to long grain, but stickier. Great with stir-fries and curries. 1 cup to 2 cups Simmer 45 minutes.
Brown Rice (short grain)
A sticky, chewy rice; very good in sushi and puddings. 1 cup to 2-1/4 cups Simmer 45 minutes.
Brown Rice (sweet)
Very sticky. It is what mochi and amasake are made from. 1 cup to 2 cups Simmer 50 minutes.
Forbidden Rice
A nutty-tasting black rice, imported from China. Soft textured; purple when cooked. 1 cup to 2 cups Simmer 30 minutes.
Jasmine Rice (white or brown)
An aromatic, long-grain rice similar to basmati. The perfect accompaniment to Thai curries. White: 1 cup to 1-3/4 cups
Brown: 1 cup to 2 cups
Simmer white rice for 15 minutes.
Simmer brown rice for 45 minutes.
Kalijira Rice (white)
A long-grain rice but on a miniature scale. Sometimes called baby basmati, these tiny grains are nutty and aromatic and cook up quickly. 1 cup to 1-1/2 cups Rinse well. Simmer 10-15 minutes.
Lundberg Countrywild
Long-grain brown rice, blended with Wehani and Black Japonica rices; delicious as a side dish. 1 cup to 2 cups Rinse rice and simmer 45 minutes.
Purple Sticky Rice
Used as a sweet dessert rice. 1 cup to 2 cups Rinse well. Bring to a boil (no salt), cover and simmer for 40 minutes.
Red Rice
Imported from Bhutan; has a nutty taste and pink color when cooked. 1 cup to 1/2 cups Bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes.
Sushi Rice (white)
Medium grain, chewy and sticky 1 cup to 1 cup Rinse and drain several times until water runs clear. Bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Rest for 10 minutes.
Texmati Rice (brown)
A cross between basmati and long-grain American rice. Delightfully nutty, fragrant rice. Great plain, with curried vegetables or seafood, or use in stuffings. 1 cup to 2 cups Simmer 15-20 minutes.
Texmati Rice (white)
A cross between basmati and long-grain American rice. Fluffier and milder in flavor and aroma than imported basmati. 1 cup to 1-3/4 cups Simmer 15-18 minutes.
Wehani Rice (red rice)
A long-grain rice, but on a miniature scale. Sometimes called baby basmati, these tiny grains are nutty and aromatic and cook up quickly. 1 cup to 2 cups Simmer 45 minutes.
Wild Rice
Technically an aquatic grass seed, but cooked and enjoyed as a rice. Delightfully chewy and full-flavored, it can be a little too intense on its own, so it's popular in grain mixes, soups and salads. 1 cup to 3 cups Rinse well. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer strongly for 45 minutes.
Wild and Brown Rice
20% lake-harvested wild rice and 80% long-grain brown rice. A milder alternative to wild rice and a great side dish. 1 cup to 3 cups Simmer 45 minutes.
Wild Rice Blend
Made from long-grain brown rice, sweet brown rice, Wehani, Japonica and wild rice. A beautiful blend for sides or soups 1 cup to 3 cups Simmer 45 minutes.

End of the line: GMO production in China halted

Reuters / Stringer

 In a surprise U-turn, China’s Ministry of Agriculture has decided not to continue with a program which developed genetically-modified rice and corn. Some environmentalists say public concerns about GM crops played a key role in the decision.
On August 17, when these permits were up for renewal, the Ministry of Agriculture decided not to extend them. In 2009, the ministry's Biosafety Committee issued approval certificates to develop the two crops, rice and corn.

Developed by the Huazhong Agricultural University, near Wuhan, it was hoped that the GMO strains would help to reduce pesticide use by 80 percent, while raising yields by as much as 8 percent, said Huang Jikun, the chief scientist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Reuters in 2009. It is illegal to sell genetically-modified rice on the open market in China.

However in July, GM rice was found on sale in a large supermarket in Wuhan, which is just across the Yangtze River from the Huazhong Agricultural University, where the product was developed, which caused a public outcry.
"We believe that loopholes in assessing and monitoring [GMO] research, as well as the public concern around safety issues are the most important reasons that the certifications have not been renewed," Wang Jing, a Greenpeace official based in Beijing, wrote in an email to ScienceInsider.

According to the South China Morning Post, state television commissioned tests on five packets of rice, which were picked at random, and found three contained genetically-modified rice. It is illegal to sell or commercially grow GM rice in mainland China. The safety certificates issued in 2009 only allowed the rice to be planted for research purposes, but never for sale on the open market.

The strain, which was found, was one of two developed by Dr. Zhang Oifa, who is a professor at the Huazhong Agricultural University. He said, "it was not impossible" for the seeds to be put on to the open market.

"You can't say [the seeds] were leaked on purpose. It's possible the seed companies have taken away the seeds and reproduced them illegally," he said, as reported by the South China Morning Post.

However, Huang Jikun also believes that public opinion was not the only reason why the project was shelved. He stated that China is reaching self-sufficiency in terms of rice production, so therefore there was no point in producing genetically modified versions. China exports very little rice as almost all of it is consumed within its domestic market. Huang also admitted, "rising public concerns [about the] safety of GM rice" likely also played a role.

Cong Cao, who is an associate professor at the University of Nottingham in the UK, was scathing of the decision. Writing in ‘The Conversation’ journal, he said the move “signals a major blow to the fight to establish GM food in China.”

Cao believes there is no logic behind the judgment adding that “Anti-Western sentiment has been judged more convincing than a raft of studies endorsing the merits of agro-biotechnology. Government support for GM food is dwindling fast, and it seems safe to say that the opportunity to commercialize GM rice – and with it the chance to help address some of China’s most urgent problems – is all but gone.”

The production of GM corn has not received as much skepticism, as it is mainly fed to livestock, according to Huang Jikun. Nevertheless, like rice, it has also not had its license renewed.