The exact number of rice varieties in the world is not known, it is even believed to be 40,000, but it is certain that rice is the most widespread cereal in the world.
How to orient yourself therefore in choosing the rice you want to keep in your pantry?
The fundamental distinction between the various types of rice
is based on the size and structure of the grains.
Long grain rice: slim grain with a length that is 3/5 times his width. When cooked, the grains are dry, well separated and fluffy. Extremely versatile and used especially in Chinese cuisine. In this group we can find the aromatic Indian Basmati, perfect for pilaf or to eat with curry, and the Thai Jasmine that is slightly more sticky.
Medium grain rice: most of the rice grown in Italy belongs to this quality. Some of them, with slightly smaller and viscous grains, are the most suitable for soups, timbales and croquettes. Others, with larger grains and a medium starch content, are the best ones for risotto, such as Arborio, Carnaroli and Vialone Nano.
Short grain rice: characterized by smaller grains and with a high starch content that makes it sticky, among its varieties we can find sushi rice but also Bomba, the Spanish rice used for paella (less sticky than Japanese rice, however it has a very high liquid absorption capacity).
But what is the rice you will find in my pantry?
Many qualities of Italian rice are not easily found here in England. You can still find, especially online, Carnaroli, Ribe, sometimes Vialone Nano, or you can also find Arborio rice quite easily in the supermarket.
I consider myself lucky, because Arborio is my favourite rice for a lot of recipes!
Perfect for risotto, thanks to the release of starch during cooking which creates a perfect creamy consistency, Arborio has an excellent cooking resistance, therefore it is also excellent for rice salads or for timbales, supplí and arancini.
Next to the Arborio in my pantry you can always find a long grain, generally Basmati, which I use as an accompaniment to stewed meat, fish or even for spicy salads with vegetables and cheeses.
There is also a brown long grain, which I love to sauté with some vegetables.
Finally, Venere rice deserves a separate mention, a black rice grown in Italy and born from a cross with an Asian black rice. During cooking it releases a characteristic smell of hazelnuts or freshly baked bread. Thanks to its texture it is excellent in salads or sautéed with vegetables, or as I like it with shrimp and seafood.
You can find everywhere a lot of kind of long grain rice, white or brown, Basmati, Thai Jasmine and so on.
Arborio rice is also found quite easily in all supermarkets, generally marketed under its own brand, sometimes even in the organic line (Waitrose, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA, Morrison).
Some of them also sell Carnaroli rice, such as Waitrose and Sainsbury’s.
Lastly, you can find a good choice of Italian rice, in particular Arborio, Carnaroli and Ribe, on the websites of Italian product retailers and as always both Delicatezza and NifeIsLife proved to be precious allies.