Types of rice and how to cook them

They are many types of rice, all of which are gluten free. Knowing how to cook them can increase the range of meals you can prepare for your gluten free diet.

Rice, can be categorized as either short, medium or long grain. Normally, short grain is used for puddings and long grain for savory meals. Medium grain rice can be used for either, but is commonly used for dishes such as paella or risotto.

Let's look at each of these in more detail and then I will provide instructions for cooking rice below. 

Types of rice

Long grain white rice

This has had the husk and bran removed and it has been polished. The grains remain separate and fluffy, if cooked correctly. There are a number of varieties that are generally known as long grain, including...

  • Patna Rice - from India, a mild, neutral flavour for general purposes
  • Basmati - Himalayan rice, aromatic, often served with curries
  • Carolina - an American long grain rice, rather bland
  • Jasmine - A Thai version of Basmati, aromatic, slightly sticky
  • Easy Cook or Minute Rice - precooked, inexpensive but bland

You can use leftover long grain rice in Fried Rice recipes. 

Long grain brown rice

As with brown or wholewheat flour, brown rice contains the whole grain (apart from the very tough husk) and the bran gives it a nutty flavour. It is the most nutritious of all the rice types. 

It takes longer to cook than white rice, in fact roughly twice as long! And even when cooked correctly, it may still seem a little chewy. When cooking rice of this type, you need to know that it will absorb a lot more water than other varieties.

Medium grain rice

  • Spanish or Valencia - used in paella
  • Arborio rice - medium to short grain rice, absorbs lots of liquid

We use arborio rice in creamy gluten free risotto recipes.

Short or round grain rice

We normally use this for milky rice puddings as it is a sticky grain. We also use it for the Turkish recipe Dolmas, which uses a rice stuffing for vine leaves and we can use it in risottos, if Arborio rice is unavailable.

Glutinous rice

Despite its name, Glutinous rice does not contain gluten. They use it in Asia for Sushi and desserts. The grains stick together when cooked.

Wild rice

Wild rice is not actually a type of rice, but a grain. However, I will include it in this list as we use it for the same purpose. It is often available in a mixed bag with basmati.

Black rice

Black rice is also sometimes know as purple, as it turns that colour when cooked. It is an excellent source of iron. In China, it is used to make black rice cake or bread.

How to cook rice

How to cook white rice - long grain

I will outline two methods for cooking white long grain rice. For both you want to measure out around 2 oz or 60 grams per person, and twice that amount of water. 

Open pan method

  1. Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a rolling boil, then tip in the measured rice. 
  2. Stir once, then turn down the heat to a simmer. Continue cooking, without covering the pan, until tender. This will take about 10 minutes.
  3. Drain the rice in a colander or sieve. Pour boiling water over it to wash off the extra starch. This will help to keep the grains separate.
  4. Cover the colander with a cloth or towel for a few minutes while it drains. The rice should dry, nice and fluffy. 
  5. Serve. 

ONLY STIR ONCE: If you continue to stir, you will break the grains and release the starch, resulting in sticky rice rather than it being fluffy.

Absorption method

  1. Measure carefully for this method! Pour the rice into a jug and note the volume. Tip it into your empty saucepan along with exactly twice the volume of cold water, and a teaspoon of salt. 
  2. Bring to the boil, then cover tightly and lower the heat. Keep on a low simmer for 15-20 minutes for normal long grain or 10 minutes for basmati. 
  3. Remove from the heat and leave the lid on the pan for another 10 minutes. 
  4. Fluff up gently with a fork. Serve. 

Cooking brown rice

Ensure you wash brown rice carefully before cooking to remove the debris. Your water will probably end up cloudy after the first wash, so continue until it runs clear.

  1. Measure the required amount of rice, remembering that it will double in volume when cooked.
  2. Tip into your pan with twice the amount of water as per the instructions for the absorption method above. 
  3. Place a lid on the pan and bring it to the boil. 
  4. Turn down the heat to a slow simmer and leaving the lid on the pan and cook for a further 45 minutes. 
  5. Test by taking off the lid to check if any water remains. If all the water has been absorbed, the rice should be ready to serve. 

Whichever way you cook it, rice makes a useful addition to a gluten free diet and can stand in for carbs that are off the menu, such as pasta, couscous or bulgar wheat. 

It can also be ground into rice flour and used for baking. 

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