Hello everyone, I hope you have had a good week so far. In this post, I discuss the types and categories of rice and pasta, storage tips for each and the most commonly used rice and pasta in my kitchen.
Rice is an ancient grain that has been cultivated for centuries and is a fundamental food in many cultural cuisines around the world. All varieties of rice are available throughout the year and is considered the most widely staple food consumed by humans, especially in Asia. Rice is ideal food for those who are gluten-intolerant and is one of the most easily digested grains.
Rice is classified according to size: long-grain, medium-grain, and short. But what’s the difference between these three types of rice? And what are they used for?
Long-grain rice is a slim type of rice and is available in white and brown varieties, and when cooked it gets fluffy and doesn’t clump together. Use this rice when you’re making a simple pilaf, or alongside your curry or stew dishes. Two specific varieties are Basmati and Jasmine.
Short-grain rice also called Pearl rice is oval or round in shape and have a higher starch content. When cooked, the grains clump together which makes the rice gets sticky. It is ideal for dishes like sushi and puddings.
Medium-grain rice is somewhere between long-grain and short-grain and cooks up moister and is more tender than long-grain. So when you really want to make a true risotto or paella, you need medium-grain rice such as Arborio, Valencia and Bomba.
Rice naturally have a brown color after harvesting, but after the outer layer of bran is removed, it is white in color. Red rice, black rice and purple rice, all feature unique coloration in the bran, which is preserved by not removing the bran layer from these types of rice for the purpose of adding visual appeal and also maintaining the nutritional value.
Brown rice is the entire grain with only the inedible outer husk removed. Making this rice, chewier, nuttier and richer in nutrients. Brown rice takes slightly longer to cook.
White rice or Polished rice has the husk, bran and germ removed which makes the rice more tender and delicate . It also takes less time to cook. White rice is primarily starch. Due to processing, it falls short on some essential nutrients such as B vitamins and thiamine.
Black rice or Forbidden rice is high in nutritional value, and has a mild nutty flavor. Slightly sticky when cooked, it is used in a variety of Chinese or Thai dishes, including Chinese black rice cake and mango sticky rice. Mix it with white rice for variations, use it in rice pilaf or rice bowl to add color to the dish.
Wild rice is really an annual aquatic seed Zizania aquatica found mostly in the upper freshwater lakes of Canada. High in protein, wild rice adds a colorful, exotic flair to any rice dish. It’s ideal for stir-fries, soups, salads or casseroles.
Here are the most commonly used types of rice in my kitchen:
Jasmine, Basmati white, Basmati brown, Arborio, black and wild rice.
Storage tips for uncooked rice
Always store the rice in a cool dry area away from any sort of heat. After opening the package, place the uncooked rice in a sealed airtight container. Alternatively, you may store the rice in a fridge or freezer.
Tips for cooking rice
- Always rinse your rice before cooking it to wash off any dusty starch from the rice or any stray particles.
- Measure the rice and water by using a 1:2 ratio of one cup of rice to two cups of water. This is applicable to most of the rice types however always check the package for cooking instructions.
- Always use a large pan of salted boiling water when cooking your rice. The rice expands as it cooks so your pan should be large enough to accommodate the amount of rice you are cooking.
- Always check the cooking instruction on the package which indicated the time of the cooking for each type of rice.
- Always add your rice to boiling water, stir and bring back to a gentle simmer. Then lower the heat and cover the pot fully with a lid. Don’t remove the lid while the rice is cooking. Otherwise you will let the steam out which will affect the cooking time.
- When your rice is cooked, remove from the heat and let it stand for couple of minutes with the lid on.
- Remove the lid and using a fork, fluff the rice and let it sit for few minutes so the steam can scape and the moisture in the rice can dry out.
- You can refrigerate the leftover of the rice for for 4 or 5 days or freeze it to 4 months in the freezer.
Pasta is generally a simple dish, but comes in many varieties due to its versatility. Pasta typically is made from durum wheat semolina, which is mixed with water and sometimes eggs and made into shapes, and then dried. Afterwards cooked by boiling or baking. Pastas may be divided into two broad categories, dried and fresh.
Most dried pasta is commercially produced. Fresh pasta was traditionally prepared by hand, sometimes with the help of simple machines, but nowadays, varieties of commercially made fresh pasta are available in supermarkets.
Both dried and fresh pasta come in a number of shapes and varieties such as Penne, Spaghetti, Fettuccine, Lasagna, Linguini, Ravioli, Rigatoni, Macaroni, Gnocchi, Cannelloni, Rotini, Farfalle, Tortellini, Fusilli, Vermicelli, Soba, Udon, Manicotti, Spirali, Corzetti, Ziti and Angel hair.
There is a general rule regarding compatibility when choosing which type of pasta and sauce to serve together. Thinner sauces like pesto are ideal for long and skinny pastas such as spaghetti, Linguine and Fusilli, while thick and robust sauces such as tomato sauce combines well with thicker pastas such as Tagliatelle, Fettuccine, Penne and rigatoni.
Here are the most commonly used pastas and noodles in my kitchen:
Penne, Spaghetti, Fettuccine, Lasagna, Linguini, Ravioli, Rigatoni, Macaroni, Vermicelli, Cannelloni, Soba and Udon.
Storage tips for uncooked dried and fresh Pasta
Dried Pasta: Dried Pasta can be stored in a cool dry area away from any sort of heat, After opening the package, place the dried pasta in a sealed airtight container.
Fresh and Homemade Pasta: Fresh pasta can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days. If you are not planning to use the pasta within that timeframe, you can freeze the pasta in the freezer for up to 2 to 3 months. You can also dry the homemade pasta and then place it in a plastic bag or airtight container. The length of time it will take to dry the pasta will vary depending on the type of pasta, size, shape and thickness. Only after the pasta is completely dried, then you can store the pasta in a cool dry place for a couple of months. If you are going use the fresh pasta the same day as it is made, you can still allow the pasta to dry on a clean towel for a couple of hours before you cook it. However if it is a stuffed pasta such as ravioli, then you should cook the pasta within half an hour to avoid discoloration.
Tips for cooking Pasta
- Always cook your sauce before you cook your pasta. The cooking of your pasta should be the last step in making your dish.
- Always use a large pan of salted boiling water when cooking your pasta. Your water should be boiling before you add the pasta. There is no need to add olive oil to the pasta when cooking. Your pot should be big enough so the pasta can move easily inside the pan otherwise it will stick together.
- Always check the package for cooking time. Every variety and brand of pasta has a different cooking time which is indicated on the package.
- Don’t overcook your pasta, when the pasta still has a little bite, add to the sauce and continue cooking so the pasta will absorb the sauce while cooking.
- Always save some cooking water when draining your pasta so you can then add to the sauce or to your pasta if it dries up. The starch in the pasta water also helps the sauce to cling to the pasta better.
- Cooked pasta (without the sauce) should be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for 3 or 4 days. The sauce should be refrigerated separate from the pasta and can be stored for 6 or 7 days.