Lifestyle

How Well Do You Know Your Rice?

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Despite being a staple in Asian cuisine, do we really know the different types of rice in the market?

Growing up in an Asian society, one of the most comforting things we often take for granted is coming home to a steaming pot of rice after a long day. Whether it reminds us of Mother’s cooking, or simply the idea of sharing a common meal with loved ones, a humble bowl of rice means so much more than meets the eye.

As a staple source of sustenance across most Asian cultures, there’s no denying how much we love these indispensable grains – but the question is, how well do we really know our rice?

With so many different ways to enjoy it – plain, fried, boiled, rolled and the list goes on, let’s find out more about the different types of rice and their culinary uses.

Firstly, there are a ton of rice varieties out there but they are best understood in three categories – long-, medium-, and short-grain.

Long-grain Rice

The common long-grain varieties you’ll find around in Singapore are: Basmati rice and Jasmine rice.

japonica rice

A popular favourite found in Indian cuisine, the aromatic Basmati rice is what you’ll find in your delicious plate of Nasi Briyani. One thing about Basmati rice is that it has to be soaked for at least half an hour before cooking so that the grains can be cooked evenly without breaking.

japonica rice

Jasmine rice on the other hand, is shorter and thicker than Basmati rice, and produces a subtle floral aroma when cooked. Most commonly found in home-cooked meals, Jasmine rice is more or less everybody’s childhood staple. Traditionally cooked by steaming, Jasmine rice has a softer, stickier texture, and is best paired with stir-fried, grilled or braised dishes. One thing to note with these grains is that they should be washed prior to cooking so as to remove any excess dust and starch.

Medium-grain Rice

While we might be less familiar with medium-grain varieties due to their Western origins, you’ll understand their significance when you crave a hearty plate of paella or risotto. A tad shorter than long-grain rice, some common medium-grain rice you’ll find in supermarkets are the Arborio and Bomba.

japonica rice

Originating from Italy, the starchy Arborio rice is commonly found in dishes such as risotto and rice puddings. The high starch content of these Arborio grains is what gives risotto its creamy texture. Preparing these grains takes about 18 minutes and are ready to serve when the grains are tender on the outside, and firm to the bite.

japonica rice

To whip up some classic Spanish paella, you would need some Bomba rice. An interesting thing to note about Bomba grains is that they can absorb up to two to three times more liquid than long-grain rice and does not become sticky (like short-grain rice). With that in mind, be sure to use more water when cooking Bomba rice.

Short-grain Rice

japonica rice

When it comes to short-grain rice, think sushi. As the fattest, roundest variety of rice, short-grain rice are known to stick and clump together when cooked. Our favourite short-grain rice has got to be the Japonica rice (or sushi rice). Japonica rice, in particular the Urichi mai, is a staple in Japanese cuisine and is what you would find in your favourite California rolls, Donburis and Onigiris. Japonica rice is traditionally prepared by washing until the water runs clear, then drained before cooking. The sticky rice is then transformed into tasty sushi rice when you throw in some vinegar and salt.

japonica rice

With so many different varieties of rice in the market, it can be tricky to decide which type works best for you and your family. As newer brands start hitting the shelves in Singapore – one of them being the latest Fragrance 43°N japonica rice, knowing which type of rice best suits your palate is all the more necessary.

The newly available Fragrance 43°N japonica rice falls under the category of short-grain rice – catering to the increasing local demand for japonica rice. Cultivated in Jilin, Northeast China, which is known for its fertile black soil, the Fragrance 43°N japonica rice boasts a delicate fluffy texture and a sweet mild taste.

A unique feature about this rice is that it is slightly harder than the typical japonica rice grain, giving it a distinctly heartier texture. Besides being harder and less sticky than the usual grain, the Fragrance 43°N japonica rice is also a nutritious source of protein, fibre, vitamin B, calcium and iron.

Depending on your preference, the longer you soak the rice, the more starch is removed to give you a softer texture. With the option of choosing how starchy you want your rice to be, the Fragrance 43°N japonica rice offers the versatility of different preparation methods to suit various palates.

The recommended method of preparation would be to soak the japonica rice in water for half an hour, with a standard water to rice ratio of 1.2 to 1.4 cups water to 1 cup of rice. Cook the rice in a rice cooker for about 20 minutes and let it simmer for 10 minutes after the cooker turns off.

Great for making a variety of dishes including porridge, sushi, and even risotto, play around with the different preparation methods and see which one you favour most!

The Fragrance 43°N japonica rice is exclusively available in Singapore, and is retailing at all NTUC FairPrice Finest and Xtra hypermarkets at SGD 11.70 (2.5kg) and SGD 23.20 (5kg).

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