Rice has been cultivated in southern Asia for over ten thousand years. Since rice is requires a wet and warm climate for its cultivation, some 90 percent of the world production of rice is grown and consumed in the monsoon regions of Asia. A small amount of rice is cultivated on dry land in northern China but because of the cold climate only one crop can be grown each year, whereas two crops per annum is the norm in the temperate south.
Long Grain Rice
Long grain white rice has had its husk, bran and germ removed, taking most of the nutrients with them and leaving bland-flavoured rice that is light and fluffy when cooked. Long grain brown rice has had only its outer husk removed, leaving bran and germ intact, which gives it a chewy, nutty flavour. It takes longer to cook than white rice but contains more fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Basmati rice is a slender long grain rice grown in northern India; including the Punjab, parts of Pakistan and the foothills of the Himalaya. After harvesting it is aged for a year which gives it a characteristic flavour and a light, fluffy testure. The grains are long and slender, and become even longer during cooking.
Fragrant Jasmine Rice
Jasmine rice is grown primarily in Thailand, Combodia, Laos, and southern Vietnam. It is moist and soft in texture when cooked and has a slightly sweet flavor. It also has a delicate but distinctive scent of jasmine. The grains cling and are somewhat sticky when cooked, though less sticky than glutinous rice.
Japonica rices are less fragrant but tends to taste slightly sweeter. When cooked it has a sticky texture such that it can easily be picked up and eaten with chopsticks which also makes them ideal for Japanese sushi or Korean gimbap.
Also known as sweet or waxy rice and it even more sticky than short grain rice. This endears it to south-east Asian cooks, as the cooked rice can be shaped or rolled, and is very easy to pick up with chopsticks. White glutinous rice with its fat opaque grains is the most common type but there is also black glutinous rice, which retains the husk and has a nutty flavour. Glutinous rice has a high sugar content, and is used for making dessert, rice crackers, rice cakes as well as rice wine.
The most popular thickening agents in Asian cooking are cornflour, tapioca flour and potato flour. Mung bean flour, waterchestnut flour, lotus root and arrowroot are favoured for clear sauces. Chickpea flour is used to make batters. Rice flour is used a thickener, and for rice papers, dumplings and cakes.
This fine white powder, made from corn (maize) is a useful thickening agent for sauces, soup and casseroles.
More fine milled than ground rice, this is also known as rice powder. The texture is similar to that of cornflour. Rice flour is used for thickening sauces, and to make rice papers and the dough for dumplings. It is often used to make sticky Asian cakes and sweets but because rice flour does not contain gluten, the cakes made with it are rather flat. Rice flour can be combined with wheat flour to make bread but this produces a crumbly loaf.
This very fine gluten-free flour is also called gram flour or besan. Mainly used in India where it originated, it also plays a role in Malaysian cooking. It is also often used to make pancakes, batter for deep frying and cakes.
Ground from the whole grain, this may be wholemeal or white. Hard or strong wheat flour is high in gluten which make it ideal for making bread.
This is a finely ground, high protein flour made from the soya bean. It is used as a thickener in a wide range of sauces and soups and is often mixed with other flours such as wheat flour to make bread and pastries. It adds a pleasant nutty flavour.
More ingredients coming soon.....
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