Getting Real on Ingredients: Choosing the Right Rice for Your Meal

Found yourself with a little extra time, want to try your hand at the art of cooking and need a winning side dish? Or, maybe you’re wondering how the RealEats chefs decided to pair a specific rice with one of our tasty entrees? Rice makes a fantastic side dish, as it can be healthy, is filling, and has a variety of taste profiles to complement your meal. 

How do you choose what type of rice to use? Check out our rice guide below; we’ll make it real easy for you! Not quite as easy as warming up one of our premade meals, but you get the idea. 

In Short: Best Rice to Use For Your Entrée

  • Brown Rice – Grilled chicken, in stuffed peppers and rice bowls 
  • White Rice – Chicken or fish, casseroles, Mexican dishes  
  • Jasmine – Thai curry and stir fry
  • Basmati – Indian curry and rice pilaf
  • Japanese Rice – Sushi


Different Types of Rice

It’s true, grocery shopping can be an overwhelming experience of aisle after aisle packed with options that you don’t know how to differentiate. What if we told you that there are over 40,000 varieties of rice in the world? Imagine walking down a grocery aisle with that many options. Cool, but no thanks. 

We’re going to outline the more common types of rice and suggest pairings to complement the flavors of your meal. You can look at different rice types in terms of length, texture, color and aroma. These categories signify overall taste, nutritional value and consistency. 

Rice falls into three overarching categories: long grain, medium grain and short grain, referring to the actual length of each grain. Long grain is separate and fluffy when cooked and is the most widely used type of rice. Medium grain rice is more moist and tends to stick together a little. Short grain is practically round and very moist and sticky when cooked. 

Common Long Grain Rice

Brown Rice – Typically long grain, nutty in flavor with a chewy texture. A healthier option than white rice. Pairs well with grilled chicken, in stuffed peppers and rice bowls. 

White Rice – Typically long grain, mild flavor with a slightly sticky texture. The most popular rice in US dishes, and also used in Asian and Mexican recipes. 

Jasmine – An aromatic, long grain, white rice that is moist and soft when cooked. Used in Thai and other Asian dishes like curry and stir fry. 

Basmati – An aromatic, long grain, white sticky rice that is dry and separate when cooked. Used in Indian and Asian dishes like curry and rice pilaf. 

Parboiled Rice – Many long grain rices come in a parboiled, “easy cook” option. This means that the rice is steamed under pressure before milling to help avoid over cooking and to retain nutritional value. 

Common Medium Grain Rice

Arborio – A medium grain rice that is high in starch, giving it a somewhat sticky, creamy texture when cooked. Great for thickening soups and stews.

Common Short Grain Rice

Japanese Rice – A short grain, white sticky rice. It has a stickier texture than Basmati, and is often labeled as sushi rice in the US. Used in Japanese style dishes and for making sushi rolls. 

How to Cook Rice

Cooking rice can vary slightly depending on the type of rice that you’re dealing with. When in doubt, just read the package and follow the directions there! We will say that cooking rice is a bit like baking — there’s a science to it. You’re going to want to use a timer and follow the guidelines to avoid over or under cooking your rice. 

General tips for cooking rice: 

  • Use a timer
  • Rinse your rice before adding to your boiling water
  • Stir once after pouring the rice in, gently to separate any clumps
  • Add a bit of salt
  • Make sure your lid fits well
  • Do not open lid to check rice while it’s cooking 

Once you have the perfect rice prepared, you can add to it as your dish calls for! Enjoy!

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