“Rice is great if you’re really hungry and want to eat two thousand of something”
American comedian Mitch Hedberg's quip above is a good way to start a conversation about the topic of this week’s Thursday tasting as the statistics on rice are pretty amazing. As a cereal grain, it is the most widely consumed staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in Asia.
As an agricultural commodity, it has the third-highest worldwide production with over 740 million tonnes produced annually (after maize 1.0 billion tonnes and sugarcane 9 billion tonnes) providing more than one-fifth of the calories consumed worldwide by humans.
That’s a lot of rice!
Traditionally rice was not a significant part of the Irish diet, making its most well-known appearance in the form of that much loved (or not, as the case may be) rice pudding. In recent years this has changed dramatically and many of us now include rice in our weekly diet. It can be a simple side dish or a whole lot more. While often served with meat or fish in sauce, rice is also a gift to vegetable dishes and is versatile enough to be used with dried fruits, nuts, and fresh herbs.
What has also changed dramatically is the variety and availability of different types of rice. Gone thankfully are the days when the only rice available on our grocery shelves was bland, nutritionally empty, instant white rice. However, since not inherently part of our past food culture, with that wider choice can sometime come some confusion. Many of these different types of rice may be less familiar to us and it can often be difficult to know what variety suits the dish you are cooking.
Much has also been written in recent years about the value of carbohydrates (of which rice is one) in the diet so with all this in mind, this week’s Thursday Tasting at 3 will look at the many varieties and brands of rice and their nutritional values that we stock here at Ardkeen Quality Food Store.
Hopefully we can separate (no pun intended ;-)) the short from the long, the brown from the Basmati and the wild from the cultivated.
There is a lot to explore so do pop instore from 3 for a taste, a chat and a great brown rice salad recipe that I have been making and sharing for years.
Sushi Rice 500g
Rinse and simmer in two parts water to one part rice for approx 20 minutes.
Long Grain Brown Rice 500g
Rinse and simmer in 2 parts water to 1 prt rice for approx 45 minutes.
De Cecco Riso Arborio 1Kg
This is one of the most popular rice varieties in Italy, thanks to its shape and texture. The plump grain rice maintains its consistency throughout cooking. During cooking, the heat penetrates the most peripheral area of the grain, leaving the central core (rich in starch) ‘al dente’. This is what makes it suitable for all types of risottos, which can be deliciously creamy, as well as for timbales and ‘supplì’ (Rome’s mozzarella-filled rice croquettes). Arborio rice is named after the town of the same name in Vercelli where it was first selected in 1946, derived from the Vialone cultivar. Even today, these areas of the Po Valley are the largest producers of Arborio rice.
White Basmati Rice 500g
Rinse and simmer in two parts water to one part rice for approx 12 minutes.
Organic Arborio Rice 500g
Heat 2.5 parts stock. Gradually add to 1 part rice until absorbed. Simmer, stirring for approx 18 minutes.