REMIX: The long and short of white rice (recipes, stories and sources in The Perfect Pantry)
A fresh look at our favorite ingredients and recipes.
On our last trip to Hong Kong, we made a pilgrimage to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery (Man Fat Tse), in the village of Sha Tin. I call it a pilgrimage not for religious reasons, but because it's a long hike from the train station followed by a challenging uphill trek to get there. Believe me, it's worth every huff and puff.
No monks live at the monastery, but more than 10,000 statues of Buddha do.
If you find a Buddha that looks like you, it's supposed to bring good luck. While finding a short, round Buddha was easy, I didn't find a single one that looked like a grey-haired Caucasian female with glasses.
What, you're wondering, does this all have to do with rice?
Well, I have better luck finding a rice in the pantry that looks like me (short, white, fat) than I had finding a Buddha at that monastery.
I've featured long grain white rices (basmati and regular long grain rice) four times in The Perfect Pantry, and short grain rices (arborio, carnaroli, valencia and bomba) six times, and one medium-grain rice, Nishiki, that also comes in brown. You'll find dozens of recipes here from Asian, Italian, Indian, Spanish and regional American cuisine that have white rice in, alongside, or underneath them.
In America, long grain white rice is the least expensive rice -- cultivated in California, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri and Florida -- and the most often thrown at weddings to symbolize fertile crops and fertile ... well, you know.
You can learn all about long grain white rice at the International Rice Festival, held every October in Crowley, Louisiana. And, if you follow the rules, you could be crowned Chef de Riz with a winning recipe!
Long grain rice might be the one most of us (in America) grew up with, but when my cooking grew up, I discovered the glorious short grains. Arborio and, later, carnaroli, the perfect rices for creamy Italian risotto. Nishiki rice, my favorite for sushi. Valencia and its cousin, bomba, for paella.
Here in The Perfect Pantry, we've followed the rice trail all around the world, beginning with arborio, carnaroli and vialone nano, the Italian short grain rices:
- Risotto with shrimp and asparagus
- Three mushroom risotto
- Risotto with grapefruit
- Risotto alla Milanese
- Green herb risotto
- Cranberry rice pudding
We moved on to the Spanish short grain rices, valencia and bomba:
- Mushroom and asparagus paella
- Vegetable paella with garlic sauce
- Chicken paella with slow-roasted tomatoes
- Paella a la Valenciana
Then came me-oh-my-a jambalaya, our family's favorite, but that isn't the only recipe here that calls for long grain white rice or the longer-grain basmati:
- Shrimp, broccoli and scallion fried rice
- Nasi goreng (Indonesian fried rice)
- Sesame shrimp fried rice with broccoli slaw
- Avgolemono (chicken soup with rice and lemons)
- Rice pilaf
- Aromatic rice pudding
- Prawn fried rice
- Golden festival rice
Every market of any size sells long grain white rice, and now the markets in small towns like mine carry basmati, jasmine, and arborio rice (which is sold as "risotto"). I jumped for joy the day I found medium grain Nishiki rice in the Asian food aisle at my regular grocery store, so I could make these recipes:
And, plenty of recipes call for rice as a go-with, including these favorites:
- Turkey mole chili
- Slow cooker chicken vindaloo
- Red curry tofu with spinach and mushrooms
- Slow cooker Cuban-style ropa vieja
- Gumbo ya-ya
When you bring rice home from the market, transfer it from its bag to an airtight container, to prevent any little flying or crawling stowaways from moving in. Stored in this way, rice will keep for a year or more.
Use the search box on the right (up near the top of this page) to find more recipes and fun facts about white rice in The Perfect Pantry.
What do you make with white rice? What's your favorite variety?