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The Five Fundamental Varieties Of Rice

Rice comes in plenty of varieties — and one of the coolest things about rice is the unique taste and flavor that each variety of rice brings to the table. Some are chewy, some are nutty, some smell delicious, and all of them are special in their own way. Just as importantly, they possess subtly different applications in cooking. Some people assume that there are only a couple kinds of rice, but the variety is remarkable! If you know the differences in texture and flavor, it’ll skyrocket your skill in the kitchen. There are over 40,000 varieties of rice in the world, but it would be impossible to point all of them out in one article. Here are five varieties that every food lover should know about.

1. Milled (White) Rice

This is the most basic American rice. Plenty of people don’t think about how their rice gets from the ground to their plate. When it’s harvested, it has an inedible husk, along with two outer layers, the bran and germ. White rice goes through a process called milling that strips all that excess stuff and leaves the inner layer intact. This stuff is awesome in the same way that tofu is — it soaks up the flavors next to it and goes wonderfully with virtually any dish. There are some who are concerned about the nutrition content of white rice – but the “enriched” variety has all the vitamin content of brown with the same classic white taste.

2. Brown Rice

Brown rice contains the entire grain, minus the husk of course. It’s got the entire outer bran and germ, which gives it a bit of a richer texture. Brown rice has more vitamins than white, but it also has more natural oils. That makes it easier for it to collect impurities and go bad over time, so you’ve got to take care to store it in a cool place and rinse it before you cook it.

3. Parboiled Rice

Parboiled rice is a bit of a cross between white and brown rice. It’s steam-cooked before the milling process in an effort to bake in some of the nutrition. It’s usually a little darker than white and is a perfect fit if you want something that’s both fluffy and firm enough to stay separate when cooking. This kind of rice is also called converted sometimes, depending on where you live.

4. Aromatic Rice

They’ve all got a great smell that’s like roasted peanuts and a soft, chewy texture. Jasmine rice is a long grain rice, usually originating in Thailand. Calrose is a rice developed in California to compete with Japan’s traditional sushi rice. Basmati rice is an aged rice grown in India and Pakistan that doesn’t absorb moisture as quickly as the traditional American makes.

5. Wild Rice

Technically, this stuff is a type of grass and a distant relative of the rice we know and love. They’re more of a grass, but they’re very tasty with a woody texture. This stuff makes a good substitute for rice or potatoes when you’re cooking.

There are many other types of rice out there, not to mention broken rice and rice flour, both of which can be very useful under the right circumstances. But hopefully, this article will serve as a perfect primer as you learn more about cooking flawless rice.