Rice is known to have been cultivated in China as long ago as 5,000 BC and has been and still is a staple food in various countries. Though there are many different types, the rice we buy is mainly of two kinds: long grain (most brown and white rice) and short grain (risotto and pudding rice). When cooling or reheating rice it's very important not to let it stay warm, spores of a bacteria bacillus ceres are often found in rice and can be harmful if the rice is cooled slowly or not reheated thoroughly. It's best to cool cooked rice for a cold dish by rinsing it with cold water and placing it straight in the fridge in a covered container. When reheating rice it should be piping hot all the way through.
This is the whole unpolished rice grain, with only the husk removed. It has a nutty, stronger flavour than white or polished rice. It has longer, thinner grains than Italian brown rice but can be used in place of it. American brown rice takes longer to cook than Italian brown.
Uses: Serve as an accompaniment with strong flavoured meat or vegetable dishes such as casseroles or stews. Brown rice makes a tasty rice salad, but it must be cooled quickly after cooking and served straight from the fridge.
To store: Keep in a cool, dry cupboard for up to 1 year.
To cook: Allow approximately 50g rice per person, place the rice in a large pan of boiling water, add salt to taste and boil for 30-35 minutes. Drain thoroughly before serving.
A quick-cooking long grain white rice. Easy cook rice is treated to prevent the rice going soggy or sticky during cooking.
Uses: To make pilafs, rice salads, paella or to serve as an accompaniment to stews and casseroles, especially good with chicken or fish dishes.
To cook: Allow approximately 50g of rice per person. Place the rice in a large pan of boiling water. Add salt if required. Boil for 10-12 minutes and drain thoroughly before serving.
Most long grain rice comes from America. The individual grains are not sticky and will separate when cooked, the grains are three to four times longer than they are wide.
Uses: Serve with stews and casseroles or use for salads or stuffings.
To cook: Allow approximately 50g of rice per person. Place the rice in a large pan of boiling water, add salt to taste if required. Boil for 10-12 minutes and drain thoroughly before serving.
With a distinctive red colour and a nutty flavour this type of rice is quite similar to brown rice. It is a semi-wild rice and is grown in the Carmargue region of southern France.
Uses: Serve as an accompaniment to meat, fish or poultry dishes or use to make an impressive-looking rice salad.
To cook: Allow 50g per person. Place the rice in a large pan, cover with freshly boiled water and simmer for 30-35 minutes or until tender (the water will go red during cooking). Drain thoroughly before serving.
One of the most popular risotto rices in Italy, this grain produces a creamy, velvety risotto yet still retaining some bite.
Uses: The classic rice for risotto - made with stock and seasonings and often flavoured with Parmesan cheese and chopped vegetables.
To cook: To make a basic risotto for 4, fry a chopped onion in a little melted butter in a large pan and sauté until soft. Add 320g rice and stir well, meanwhile heat 1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock in a separate saucepan. Add 1 glass of dry white wine to the rice and stir until it has been absorbed. Add a ladleful of hot stock and stir until absorbed. Continue adding the hot stock for about 18 minutes or until the rice is soft, tender and creamy but the grains are still firm in the centre. Stir in grated Parmesan cheese if using, season and add any other chopped cooked meat, fish or vegetables if required.
This is rice that has been ground to a coarse powder, it has a similar consistency to ground almonds and is a creamy white colour.
Uses: Ground rice is used in baking to enrich pastry, cakes and biscuits and is used in a similar way to flour. It is often mixed with flour or ground almonds in recipes.
This is a long grain rice traditionally from the Punjabi region of India. It is often considered to be the best type of white rice and it has a wonderfully aromatic flavour. It has a light, fluffy consistency and the grains separate easily when cooked.
Uses: Best served with curries and spicy Indian dishes.
To cook: For best results rinse the rice thoroughly before cooking. For 4 people place 225g rinsed rice in a pan with 600ml water and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain thoroughly before serving.
This rice has thick, short, stubby grains and a hard central core. It absorbs at least twice its volume of liquid and becomes creamy and tender during long, slow cooking (25-30 minutes), although still retaining a little 'bite'.
Uses: Most famously used for risottos with a variety of flavourings from dried mushrooms or other vegetables to meat and fish, there are hundreds of different recipes for this Italian favourite.
To cook: To make a basic risotto for 2-3, in a large saucepan fry a chopped onion and crushed garlic clove in olive oil for 5 minutes. Meanwhile heat 1 litre of stock in a separate pan until just simmering. Add 225g arborio rice to the onion and stir well for 2 minutes. Add a ladleful of hot stock to the rice and bring to a gentle boil, cook, stirring until the liquid has been absorbed. Repeat this process, adding enough stock until the rice is creamy and tender but with a little bite. Season to taste, add 25g butter and serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese to taste.
This is the whole unpolished rice grain, with only the husk removed. It has a nutty, stronger flavour than white or polished rice. It has slightly rounder grains than American brown rice and takes less time to cook but the two are interchangeable.
Uses: Serve as an accompaniment to strong flavoured dishes such as steaks, stews, game or roast duck. It can also be used in stuffings.
To cook: Allow 50g of rice per person. Place the rice in a large saucepan of boiling water. Add salt if required. Boil for 20-25 minutes, the rice should be slightly chewy, not soft, when cooked. Drain thoroughly before serving. Brown rice can also be cooked in a microwave oven, according to packet instructions.
This short grained variety (the grains are almost as broad as they are long) produces a sticky result when cooked. The grains are very absorbent and so a small amount of rice in proportion to liquid is used during cooking. Flaked rice can be used in place of short grain pudding rice.
Uses: In sweet rice puddings - for a variation to the plain pudding recipe below, add chopped dried fruit - apricots, peaches or pears or raisins, sultanas or currants 30 minutes before the end of cooking time. Or stir grated chocolate or jam into the pudding, once cooked. For an extra creamy taste use full fat milk and stir in double cream just before serving.
To cook: To make a rice pudding for 4, place 50g short grain pudding rice, 25g sugar and 600ml milk in a buttered ovenproof dish, sprinkle with grated nutmeg if required. Bake at 150°C, gas mark 2 for 2 hours (stirring once after 30 minutes).
Sushi rice is white short grain rice. It is similar in appearance to Italian risotto rice and is a sticky rice but not as starchy as risotto rice.
Uses: As its name suggests, sushi rice is the main ingredient in the traditional Japanese dish sushi.
The rice is cooked and then flavoured with rice wine and vinegar and topped or rolled with raw fish or vegetables.
To cook: Wash the rice thoroughly and drain. Cook according to the packet instructions (different varieties have differing cooking times).
Also known as jasmine rice, this variety of long grain white rice is similar to Indian basmati, but it is slightly sticker.
Uses: Serve as an accompaniment to any Thai-style curries or spicy dishes that have lots of sauce to soak up the rice.
To cook: For best result rinse the rice thoroughly before cooking. For 4 people, place 225g of rinsed rice in a pan with 600ml water and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain thoroughly before serving.
Strictly speaking this isn't actually a rice at all but the dark brown-black seed of an acquatic grass. It has a nutty flavour and firm texture and is often mixed with white rice to give an attractive contrast in colour.
Uses: Serve as an accompaniment to stews or casseroles, use as a stuffing or for an attractive-looking rice salad.
To cook: Cook according to the packet instructions (different varieties have differing cooking times).