Can't decide which rice to use for what purpose? No wonder, considering that there are more than 40,000 varieties of rice worldwide. Here's a quick guide to commonly available rices.
Arborio: A plump-grained rice that's translucent in color with a white dot at the center of the grain. It's classified as a medium-grain rice in the United States, although elsewhere it's considered a short grain rice. Arborio is most often used in cooking risotto, as this rice develops a creamy texture and maintains a degree of chewiness.
Brown rice has a longer cooking time than white rice, is chewier and has up to three times more fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium than white rice.
Jasmine: A long-grain rice that cooks up soft and moist, its grains cling together.
Long-grain: These long, slender kernels are four to five times longer than their width. The grains cook up separate, light and fluffy, making it ideal for use in recipes that require texture. Long-grain rice is the most popular rice in the US and Canada.
Medium-grain: The length of medium-grain rice is two to three times its width, and it cooks up moist. Because it clumps more than long grain rice, it is often used in recipes that call for a creamy consistency, such as desserts and puddings.
Parboiled, or converted: The steam treatment conducted prior to milling hardens the grain so that there is less grain breakage. The process also forces some of the vitamins and minerals into the grain before the bran and germ are removed. In this way, some of the nutrients are retained. Parboiled rice cooks up extra separate and fluffy.
Polished: This is regular white rice and is the most common form of rice. In the US, it is enriched with vitamins and minerals.
Short-grain: The almost round kernels of short-grain rice cook up soft and tend to cling together. Short-grain rice is used in Japanese, Taiwanese, and some Chinese dishes. Look for it in Asian markets.
Sweet: Sweet rice has a short, plump, opaque kernel. When cooked, this rice loses its shape and becomes very sticky, hence its other names: glutinous rice, sticky rice, or waxy rice. Although it doesn't taste sweet, it's often used in Asian desserts.
Texmati: This is a hybrid of basmati rice, it's available in brown or white varieties.
Webani: This California-bred rice is similar in taste to cracked wheat when cooked.