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[The Asian Market] Asian Rices


Richard Kilgore
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Shopping at one of the many Asian markets in the area today, I stopped to jot down the rice offerings:

Asian Taste Rice

Deer Jasmine Rice

Global Elephant Rice

Sweet Rice

ITC Rice

Dragon Rice

Indian Rice - Royal Brand

Brown Rice - Nishiki Brand

Japanese Rice - Nishiki Brand

Japanese Rice - Kokuho Brand

At other markets there are other types and brands, of course. One I was in yesterday had about six to eight brands of Jasmine rice.

So please help me make sense of the various types and brands. In what way are different brands of Jasmine rice...erm, different.

For what do you use each type or subtype or brand of rice in your part of the world?

Does each type require a different approach to cooking them.

Also, how do you store 25 - 50 lb bags of rice so that tiny moths and such do not spoil it and then run amuck in your pantry?

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Let me try to take on some of these questions.

There are many, many different strains of rice grown throughout the world, and new ones being developed.

Leaving out exotic colored rices (such as black rice, purple rice, and red rice), rice can be divided into three basic types:

->long-grain rice -- including basmati and jasmine rice

->short-grain rice -- including "sushi rice" and Arborio rice

[note: medium-grain rices fall somewhere between the two, and have characteristics of either long-grain or short grain]

->glutinous rice -- also called "sweet rice" or "sticky rice."

Long-grain rice becomes a "fluffy" mass of separate grains after cooking. It is the rice typically served with Chinese foods, Indian foods, and the "regular" rice served with Southeast Asian foods.

Short-grain rice sticks together after cooking, and is the preferred rice in Japan and (from what I see of Korean food in the USA) Korea.

Glutinous rice, which also sticks together after cooking, is often served with Thai foods. It is also used in Asian desserts and ground into a flour that is used to make rice cakes (aka mochi).

Each type of rice requires a different cooking method, which also depends on the dish you are making. Typically, glutinous rice is cooked by steaming it over a pot of boiling water, rather than adding the water to the rice (or the rice to the water) in the pan.

To keep insects out of rice, I transfer my rice to airtight plastic canisters as soon as I bring it home from the market. (I keep a small amount in my cupboard for everyday use, and the rest of the sack in a larger canister that is further sealed around with clear packaging tape.) Asian markets often carry large plastic canisters specifically meant for rice storage.

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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->long-grain rice -- including basmati and jasmine rice

->short-grain rice -- including "sushi rice" and Arborio rice

[note: medium-grain rices fall somewhere between the two, and have characteristics of either long-grain or short grain]

->glutinous rice -- also called "sweet rice" or "sticky rice."

Very well put.

In practice, I use short-grain Arborio for risotto, short-grain Japanese rice (Koshihikari, etc.) for Japanese cooking and long-grain Jasmine rice for most other cuisines. Plus glutinous rice for Asian dishes that require it.

So I generally keep four varieties of rice in our cupboard at all times. In reality, though, we also buy short grain brown and haiga rice in smaller quantities and mix that with regular white rice.

I have more experience with short-grain Japanese rice, but the differences between brands can be significant. The poorer brands are actually medium-grain and cook soft. They also cook up without the bite/firmness that is the sign of a quality short-grain Japanese rice.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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I asked the Indian gentleman who supplies all my spices, beans and Indian rice about the weevil problem. "Put a clove of garlic in" he said. Each time, I put a (peeled, uncut: somehow I doubted that unpeeled would be sufficient) single clove of garlic in with 5kg of rice and haven't had a problem since. The garlic doesn't taint the rice. The clove gets shrivelled over time but still no insects. The container isn't airtight - I can't comment on airtight storage as I've never used it.

You're lucky you had only two types of Japanese rice to grapple with. In Japan, sensibly, growing location is the second biggest factor in marketing after rice variety - the better stuff typically labelled by village.

I notice a distinct difference between Indian Basmati rice and regular rice - Basmati is more delicately perfumed and flavoured, and is prized for it.

There's lots here on rice varieties round the world.

Edited by Blether (log)

QUIET!  People are trying to pontificate.

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blether said--

I asked the Indian gentleman who supplies all my spices, beans and Indian rice about the weevil problem. "Put a clove of garlic in" he said. Each time, I put a (peeled, uncut: somehow I doubted that unpeeled would be sufficient) single clove of garlic in with 5kg of rice and haven't had a problem since. The garlic doesn't taint the rice. The clove gets shrivelled over time but still no insects. The container isn't airtight - I can't comment on airtight storage as I've never used it.

this is great news! I have an old pantry and I think weevils are down inside the shelves where I can't get rid of them all--washing the shelves with bleach solution--I've tried everything--but if this works for me I'll be able to take all the flour out of my fridge ,finally, and not have to say a prayer that my rice doesn't wriggle when I scoop it out of the bag!!!

Zoe

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There is also a very extensive (7 pages and counting!) thread specifically on Japanese rice here.

Information about Japanese rice available in North America starts at the bottom of Page 3 of the above thread.

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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Suzy summed it up well, but rice is somewhat akin to flour in that the are many more details to be found if one goes looking for them.

I love rice and eat it pretty much everday, most of my experience has been with different types of long grain. To elaborate on long grain, there seem to be three different types that I know of. The regular long grain rice that cooks up fluffily and seperately is favored in India, parts of China, and Latin America. Indian seem to refer to this type as arwa chawl which is different from the basmati. The other two types are Basmati as mentioned, and Jasmine, which are a product of their unique growing region. Does anyone know of any other types of long grain that would merit their own category?

Basmati is very special rice grown in the foothills of the himalayas in northern India and Pakistan. It is a product of these unique growing conditions, and is a long slender rice with a natural nutty perfume. Basmati rice transplated from these conditions does not produce the same rice. However, there is some basmati that has been transferred to similar growing conditions in California and Texas and is somewhere inbetween himalayan basmati and regular long grain rice. When cooked properly, Basmati rice is light and fluffy with elongated and completely seperate grains; some grains reach an inch in length or so when cooked. Julie Sahni gives an excellent breakdown of basmati in her book Classic Indian cooking on page 355.

Jasmine is another very special type of rice, unique to the central plains of Thailand. As in the case of basmati, jasmine rice transplated to different growing regions simply doesn't grow the same. I am unaware of any transplated jasmine rice that paralells the basmati grown in texas or california. Good Jasmine rice should have a subtle but detectable fragance upon opening a bag and have a slight sheen to it. Cooked jasmine rice is slightly sticky, with slender grains that are typically a bit longer than regular long grain, and have a wonderful chewy texture. It also has a wonderful delicate scent that is hard to describe. According to David Thompson this scent is that of Pandanus, a fragant asian leaf; the Jasmine reference supposedly refers to the "pearl-like sheen of the grain" rather than the scent persay (171).

Glutinous or sticky rice is a type of long grain that has a higher proportion of the starch Amylopectin, which breaks down when cooked causing the rice to be sticky (Thomspon 105). Due to this it is better suited to dry-steaming than boiling, and typically is soaked for several hours or overnight before being dry steamed for 30 minutes. It is really quite different from other types of rice and a great pleasure to eat; the rice sticks to itself but not to fingers and I think is best enjoyed with ones hands. Kasma's site also contains a lot of great information on sticky rice.

I have found most of the brands of Basmati available to me in the U.S. and Canada have been fairly similar. Some have been crap that stick together terribly, but beyond a certain minimum of quality I haven't noticed any strong differences. A good brand I have found is Red-Rose which comes in brown burlap sacks and usually costs about 10$ for a 10 pound bag; price can be roughly correlated with quality.If anyone has a brand they have had outstanding results with, I would love to hear about it. I have read that in India there hundreds of varieties, with many different grades and standards in a system somewhat akin to wine here in the west. There are many ways to prepare basmati rice, if you'd like I'd be happy to share my favorite simple way to prepare it.

My favorite brand of Jasmine rice is Golden Phoenix, which I discovered through this website. She gives a great breakdown of Jasmine rice and why it is so special, and also provides a fantastic method for cooking it, my favorite thus far. I think it is worth the extra search; all the other types of Jasmine Rice I have tried have been good but not remarkable, and all more or less the same.

Thinking about rice has me wondering. The picture in my mind is roughly long grain in Persia, China, India, Latin America and Southeast Asia; sticky or glutinous in certain parts of asia; short grain in Japan; and starchy short/medium grain in Spain and Italy. Are there any other basic types to be found? Can anyone describe the rice types and rice-eating habits of Africa or elsewhere I have missed?

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Basmati is very special rice grown in the foothills of the himalayas in northern India and Pakistan. It is a product of these unique growing conditions, and is a long slender rice with a natural nutty perfume. Basmati rice transplated from these conditions does not produce the same rice. However, there is some basmati that has been transferred to similar growing conditions in California and Texas and is somewhere inbetween himalayan basmati and regular long grain rice.

My local natural foods co-op sometimes has a rice labeled as Texmati (sold in bulk). It's a long grain rice and pretty good. I don't know if it's the transplanted to TX/CA basmati you describe above or something else. I'd thought I'd read somewhere Texmati was a cross between a rice grown in TX and Basmati but can't remember where I read it.

azurite

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Glutinous or sticky rice is a type of long grain

Just for clarification, glutinous rice is not necessarily synonymous with long grain rice. There are varieties of short grain glutinous rice such as mochi rice used in Japanese cooking.

Here's an image of mochi rice (glutinous short grain rice):

http://www.zojirushi.co.jp/usual/ricedict/img/mochi_rice.jpg

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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Thinking about rice has me wondering. The picture in my mind is roughly long grain in Persia, China, India, Latin America and Southeast Asia; sticky or glutinous in certain parts of asia; short grain in Japan; and starchy short/medium grain in Spain and Italy. Are there any other basic types to be found? Can anyone describe the rice  types and rice-eating habits of Africa or elsewhere I have missed?

Um, I'm reasonably sure that there are no significant populations for whom glutinous rice is the staple food.

As far as I know, glutinous rice in the Chinese diet is typically used for festive dishes. Nowadays, it's mostly foods that are not made at home; rather, they are bought outside. This includes dumplings and desserts.

May

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Um, I'm reasonably sure that there are no significant populations for whom glutinous rice is the staple food.

I don't know how you define "significant population", but sticky or glutinous rice is the staple grain of Laos, northern Thailand, and to some extent northeastern Thailand. See Mcgee page 473.

Just for clarification, glutinous rice is not necessarily synonymous with long grain rice. There are varieties of short grain glutinous rice such as mochi rice used in Japanese cooking.

You are of course correct, but I have found most people classify glutinous rice as a seperate category and the chinese/japanese sticky rices as a type of short grain rice. I call it a long grain rice because the grains are fairly long.

My local natural foods co-op sometimes has a rice labeled as Texmati (sold in bulk). It's a long grain rice and pretty good. I don't know if it's the transplanted to TX/CA basmati you describe above or something else. I'd thought I'd read somewhere Texmati was a cross between a rice grown in TX and Basmati but can't remember where I read it.

I learned about this from Julie Sahni in her book Classic Indian Vegetarian Cooking; reviewing what she said you are correct, as Texmati is a cross of basmati rice and Carolina long grain. She describes it as closer to basmati than regular long grain but with grains that don't expand as much lengthwise, and little to none of basmati's famous aroma. (Sahni 59)

Also of interest is the Calmati, basmati rice grown in California produced from the original basmati plants of the Punjab region of India. There it is cultivated under "ideal (Indian-like) climactic conditions and earthy red soil". Apparently it is sold unmilled as brown basmati and thus resembles normal milled basmati little, but is special in its own right. (Sahni 59)

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In Indian cooking, long grain vs. medium grain or other depends

on the use. There are dozens of varieties of rice in India depending

on traditional cultivars, new hybrids, now GMO's etc....

Agricultural scientists talk about length of time taken to

grow the crop, disease resistance, yields, etc. but don't

readily tell you whether it's short or long grain.

Cooks care about length of grain, fragrance, sticky or not, etc.

From the Indian cook's perspective, here's some

partial information:

Long grain rice is generally more prized, expensive, and used for

"fancier" cooking, baasmati is the best of these.

There's also cheaper long grains (e.g. Sona Masoori) that

are good for everyday cooking or spicy rice dishes where the delicate

baasmati perfume would be lost (e.g. vangi bhaat).

There are also the parboiled rices used to grind, and make

batter that ferments for idlis, dosais, aapams, etc.

Here, the rice is steamed before being husked.....

I think medium or short grain varieties are used for idli grinding.

Then there are short grain rices like Bhutan red rice,

and some Kerala and Andhra varieties. Used by different

peoples, with different recipes.

There are dozens of brand names for each of these varieties.

Moral: not all Indian rice is Baasmati, or even long grain.

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  • 1 year later...

My local natural foods co-op sometimes has a rice labeled as Texmati (sold in bulk).  It's a long grain rice and pretty good.  I don't know if it's the transplanted to TX/CA basmati you describe above or something else.  I'd thought I'd read somewhere Texmati was a cross between a rice grown in TX and Basmati but can't remember where I read it. 

I learned about this from Julie Sahni in her book Classic Indian Vegetarian Cooking; reviewing what she said you are correct, as Texmati is a cross of basmati rice and Carolina long grain. She describes it as closer to basmati than regular long grain but with grains that don't expand as much lengthwise, and little to none of basmati's famous aroma. (Sahni 59)

Also of interest is the Calmati, basmati rice grown in California produced from the original basmati plants of the Punjab region of India. There it is cultivated under "ideal (Indian-like) climactic conditions and earthy red soil". Apparently it is sold unmilled as brown basmati and thus resembles normal milled basmati little, but is special in its own right. (Sahni 59)

Bumping up this topic to ask a question about basmati rice & cooking technique.

I just finished a 10# bag of basmati rice that I bought in an Indian grocery store - Himalayan brand, I think. Then, this morning I opened a new bag of Goya brand, also labeled Basmati. Neither of them cooked up looking anything like the basmati rice I get in Indian restaurant - with the long grains and that great flavor & texture. Am I being ripped off, or does it take a special cooking technique to achieve that texture as well?

BTW, I usually cook it using the boil and drain method, although I have also used the absorption method quite often as well.

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I've experienced similar problems Liz, and my guess is that the culprit is your rice. Personally I've found it pretty difficult to replicate perfect restaurant rice consistently, but you should be able to get good results even if your technique isn't spot on. Since basmati has come into fashion, there are a lot of brands out there that aren't worthwhile. I would recommend buying small bags of different brands and testing, or searching here and elsewhere for reputable brands. Off the top of my head, Super Sadhu, Rose Brand, and Zebra are quite good (super sadhu is amazing if you can find it).

Bumping up this topic to ask a question about basmati rice & cooking technique. 

I just finished a 10# bag of basmati rice that I bought in an Indian grocery store - Himalayan brand, I think.  Then, this morning I opened a new bag of Goya brand, also labeled Basmati.  Neither of them cooked up looking anything like the basmati rice I get in Indian restaurant - with the long grains and that great flavor & texture.  Am I being ripped off, or does it take a special cooking technique to achieve that texture as well?

BTW, I usually cook it using the boil and drain method, although I have also used the absorption method quite often as well.

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The only thing I want to comment on is that African nations also eat rice but I believe in some areas the main source of carbs are some kind of tubar that is pounded into a sticky paste like thing. This is eaten with watery stews that may or may not be spicy. I think they take a lot of influence from India, Southern Europe, and the Middle East depending on what part of Africa you are in. I think the bushman rarely eat carbs most of their food source is protein based. See Anthony Bourdain's Namibia and Ghana trip (shudders at the shit poop eating part yuck no thanks but I would have done the same and then thrown up discreetly and gotten a ton of shots and antibiotics when I got back to the US. I think he did actually have to do that after that shoot.)

Oh and something I learned from Amy of the Japan board. I now add barley (hulled and cleaned and white whatevered) to my Japanese short grain Nishiki rice. I LOVE sticky rice and also buy Jasmine by the 10 lb bag. I usually get the one with the nang angel on the front? Don't know name sorry. I transfer my rice to large tupperware when I get home. I will have to try the garlic trick. Thanks a bunch for that one!

:)

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I buy rice in 25 pound bags. I love rice and eat it almost daily. What I cannot seem to find, and what a friend of mine's mother likes is Korean green rice. She called it that and said it was the best rice in the world. I have never tried it, cannot find any in stores at all. If anyone knows anything that would be great.

I quit trying to make rice on stove tops after I bought a rice cooker. The trick is the ratio of rice to water, about 1 c. rice for 1 1/2 c. water for jasmine rice. It comes out perfect everytime.

"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

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"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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I buy rice in 25 pound bags. I love rice and eat it almost daily. What I cannot seem to find, and what a friend of mine's mother likes is Korean green rice. She called it that and said it was the best rice in the world. I have never tried it, cannot find any in stores at all. If anyone knows anything that would be great.

I quit trying to make rice on stove tops after I bought a rice cooker. The trick is the ratio of rice to water, about 1 c. rice for 1 1/2 c. water for jasmine rice. It comes out perfect everytime.

I just bought a 20 pound bag of the green rice, per the suggestion of the friendly cashier at my nearest Korean market. I'm not sure what is different about it compared to regular medium-grain rice, but it cooks up soft and fluffy and I really like it.

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  • 1 month later...
Am I being ripped off, or does it take a special cooking technique to achieve that texture as well?

BTW, I usually cook it using the boil and drain method, although I have also used the absorption method quite often as well.

I cook basmati rice similar to rice pilaf. Basamati rice is sauteed in ghee and your preferred aromatics. The ghee helps keeps the grains separate. Add your stock or water, use 2:1 ratio of stock or water to rice. Bring it to a boil on the stove, cover and then bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes...

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