Rice is an essential ingredient in many dishes and mixed salads. It is also very popular as part of the gluten-free diet. However, we are not always aware of all its subtleties.

How, to, choose, the, right, rice?

Rice is a basic ingredient in our diet: it provides us with energy, fiber, vitamins and minerals. There are a dozen different kinds of rice around the world. How are they different? How to choose them well? How to cook them? To get a clearer picture, follow the advice of Anthony Boucher, chef de cuisine, Laurianne Ferté d'Houard, co-founder of the Rice Trotters restaurants and Véronique Liesse, dietician-nutritionist.

Which one to choose for rice that doesn't stick?

Prefer rice with long, firm grains, such as Thai or basmati rice (semi-complete or whole grain versions are usually less sticky) or white parboiled rice, steamed very hot to pre-cook it and make it sticky.

White rice with short, round grains is reserved for certain preparations where a creamier texture is desired. 

Thai rice, basmati rice, flavoured rice: what are the differences?

Basmati rice, with the most tapered grains, is normally grown in India in the Punjab region (sometimes also in Pakistan) and Thai rice in Thailand. Their tastes are also different: rather hazelnut aromas for basmati (ideal in sauce dishes) and jasmine for Thai (interesting in exotic dishes or for Cantonese rice).

As for the "flavoured" rice, it doesn't mean much, it is sometimes a mixture of several varieties. 

What is the benefit of whole or semi-complete rice?

It is a rice from which the inedible husk has been removed but from which the second husk, the pericarp, has been kept. It contains more fibre, vitamins and minerals than white rice: 2 to 3 times more vitamin B, zinc and iron, 6 to 8 times more magnesium.

It also has a lower glycemic index (GI) than white rice. But brown rice is also firmer, takes longer to cook (up to 40 minutes) and has a stronger taste. Semi-complete rice is therefore a good compromise, quicker to cook and more digestible for sensitive intestines. 

Red rice, black rice, brown rice... what are the differences?

Red, brown or black rice are categories of whole grain rice, whose colored husk is due to the presence of anthocyanins (pigments): we therefore have rice that is richer in antioxidants. 

The black rice of Camargue is the only one with a PGI (protected geographical indication), therefore a strict specification and often a superior quality. The purple rice is rather semicomplete.

As for the wild rice, it is not a rice strictly speaking, but a plant growing naturally in the marshes (or swampy areas). Its taste is of little interest but it brings its color and crunchiness in rice mixtures, and also some nutrients: provitamin A, vitamins B5 and B9, zinc, potassium, magnesium ... 

Which rice for which preparation?

    Risotto : arborio or carnaroli rice
    Paella : bomba rice
    Sushi, maki : Japanese round rice (it sometimes comes from the Camargue) which makes it possible to obtain sticky rice.
    Rice pudding, rice cakes: risotto rice or baldo rice 

What are "quick cooking" rice and pan-fried rice worth?

Fast cooking rice is not recommended, as it is pre-cooked rice with a very high glycemic index.  

Pre-cooked and seasoned, to be heated in the microwave, they may contain additives such as artificial flavors. There is also a risk of glycation and Maillard reaction: rice that caramelizes can release harmful compounds. To spice up the dish, it is better to add your own tomato coulis, small vegetables, onions, spices... 

Is it better to use organic rice, in bulk or in bags?

Is organic rice better for your health? Absolutely. Especially if it is semi-complete, wholemeal or parboiled rice, as it may contain a higher amount of pesticides.

It is not advisable to reheat food in plastic because of the risk of migration from the container to the contents. However, rice sold in cardboard boxes may also be contaminated with certain inks. Ideally, rice should be purchased in bulk and stored in a glass box.

What is the right portion of rice to respect?

It depends on your size and your physical activity. Count 50 g of raw rice per person (about 120 g when cooked). Rice should make up a quarter of the plate, with half of the vegetables and a quarter of the protein. For a mixed salad, count 20/25 g of raw rice per person.  

The health tip

Cooling the rice in the fridge to make a rice salad or reheating it the next day is a good idea, as it will be richer in resistant starch and therefore have a lower glycemic index. In addition, resistant starch has a prebiotic action and nourishes our microbiota.

What is the ideal cooking method for rice?

In order not to make it too doughy, it should be cooked not too long and with not too much water. So it is better to cook it by absorption rather than with Creole (in a large pot of water).

1. Rinse the rice before, until the water is clear, to remove the starch so that it does not stick (this also reduces the cooking time a little).

2. When cold, put the right amount of cold water in the pan for the amount of rice. It depends on the rice chosen, but it is indicated on the package. On average, it takes about 1 part of water for 1 part of white rice and 2 parts of water for one part of whole grain rice (measure with a glass). 

 3. Bring to a boil and cook with the lid on until the water is absorbed. The ideal is to invest in a rice cooker, which automatically stops and keeps the rice warm when all the water is absorbed. It can also be used to cook other cereals such as quinoa, wheat...