Rice-For Lighter, Healthier Foods
Rice was first grown in the American colonies in the late seventeenth century. Today the major rice-growing states are Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Texas, and California. The United States is a major exporter of this grain.
Rice thrives in warm climates wit abundant supplies of fresh water. The type of rice grown in the United States and other parts of the world is called paddy rice. It is cultivated in fields that are surrounded by levees or dikes, which allow the fields to be flooded for most of the growing season. The fields are drained before the rice is harvested.
Rice is a good source of B Vitamins, such as thiamin, and niacin, and also provides iron, phosphorous, and magnesium. Although rice is lower in protein than other cereal grains, its protein quality is good because it contains high levels of the amino acid lysine. It is also an excellent source o complex carbohydrate, which helps to fuel the body. Rice is also healthful for what it does not contain—it has no fat, cholesterol, or sodium. Brown rice provides slightly more fiber, Vitamin E, phosphorous, and calcium than white rice.
The many types of rice are described below:
Long Grain Rice-has long slender kernels that are four times longer than they are wide. When properly cooked, they will be fluffy and dry with separate grains.
Medium Grain Rice-is about twice as long as it is wide and cooks up more moist and tender than long rain. It will also be slightly clingy.
Short Grain Rice-may be oval or round in shape. It has amylopectin, a starch that makes rice sticky or clump together when cooked. It is ideal for using chopsticks.
Aromatic Rice-are long grained varieties that have a toasty, nutty fragrance and a flavor similar to popcorn or roasted nuts. Basmati and Jasmine are some examples.
Sweet Rice-is a short grain rice which is very sticky, resilient, and turns translucent when cooked. Its cohesive quality makes it suitable for rice dumplings.
Each of the above types of rice can be purchased in different forms such as rough (kernels still within the hull), brown (kernels of rice where only the hull has been removed), parboiled (rough rice that has gone through a steam-pressure process before milling), precooked (white or brown rice that has been completely cooked and dehydrated after milling), and regular-milled (rice that has the hull and the bran layers removed).
Tips for the perfect rice include measuring carefully, cover tightly, and time accurately. Liquids other than water can be used to flavor the rice. They include chicken/beef/vegetable broths, bouillon, consommé, or fruit/vegetable juices diluted in water. To cook rice in a stock pot—heat to boiling, stir, cover and lower heat to simmer. Regular milled white rice cooks in 15 minutes, parboiled rice in 25 minutes, and brown rice in 40-45 minutes.