Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cooking with rice

Rice is the most important food crop in Asia and is particularly associated with Asian cuisine. Rice is a complex carbohydrate, which means that it contains starch and fiber, which digested slowly, allows the body to utilize the energy released over a longer period.

Rice is an extremely healthy food for a number of reasons. It has low sodium content and contains useful quantities of potassium, the B vitamins, thiamin and niacin, only a trace of fat and no cholesterol. Rice is also gluten free, so is suitable for coeliacs. It is a wonderful food for the very young and elderly as it is easy to digest.

Rice is a crucial cereal grass in the genus Oryza. There are three parts to a grain of rice, starting with the outer layer, known as the bran, which is higher in fiber and has a high concentration of nutrients as well. Inside the bran, the germ and the endosperm make up the body of the grain. The germ packed with nutrients, is a small nubbin on the grain, since it feeds the grain as it develops. The endosperm makes up the bulk of the volume of the grain.

Brown rice

Description: warm, sweet and pungent; affects the stomach and large intestines.

Brown rice is milled rice that only has the outer grain husks removed. In its natural state, compared to unfortified white rice, brown rice is a better source of several nutrients such as riboflavin, folate, manganese, zinc, iron and magnesium. It has three times the fiber of white rice. Brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice, since water must penetrate the bran, which is to protect the grain inside. Soaking brown rice for several hours can reduce the cooking time. Brown rice is also more prone to going rancid since it is high in natural fats and oils, therefore it should be refrigerated and used within six months of purchase.

The latest trend is to eat brown rice during the first 14 days of confinement as it is more nutritious and apparently will help with milk production.

White rice

Description: neutral, sweet; affects the stomach and spleen

White rice is milled rice, which has had its husk, bran, and germ removed. This is largely to prevent spoilage and to extend the storage life of the grain. After milling, the rice is polished usually using glucose or talc, resulting in a seed with a bright, white, shiny appearance. However, during the process of manufacturing white rice some important nutrients were removed therefore many companies choose to put back what they took out by adding synthetic vitamins and iron - this is called fortified white rice. Grown primarily in Thailand, Jasmine white rice has a subtle, nutty flavor and rich aroma that is very pleasing to the palate. It must used within six months of purchase for optimal flavor and freshness. Old rice tends to get dusty and woody in flavor.

Glutinous rice

Description: warm, sweet; affects the spleen, stomach and lungs.

Glutinous rice is a rice cultivar that is particularly sticky and dense. It is cultivated in Thailand, Laos, and China. Although the name implies that the rice contains gluten, it is actually gluten free, with “glutinous” referring to the sense of “sticky” in this instance. Several styles of glutinous rice are available. All are generally short to medium grain.

Black glutinous rice is one of the varieties of unhulled glutinous rice that ranges in color from rusty brown to a deep purple-black. Black glutinous rice is very popular for desserts.

White glutinous rice is hulled and may be polished to remove the germ or left plain. Many Asian desserts use glutinous rice as a base for cakes, sushi, and rice balls. It is also the ingredient for making rice wine and vinegar.

Rice is suitable for vegetarians and vegans, with brown rice in particular complementing vegetarian and vegan dishes. It can be cooked whole and served with stir-fries, sauces, and curries, or made into flour, wine, cakes, vinegar, milk, flakes, noodles, paper and tea.

Varieties of rice noodles

Mee Hoon must be soaked until soft before cooking. Used for frying or in soup.

Mee Suah often called ‘long life noodles’ is a must during birthdays and Chinese New year. It is very popular for confinement or convalescing.

Tung Hoon must be soaked until soft before cooking. Used for frying or in soup and fried mixed vegetables.

Kueh teow comes in two types. One is for frying and the other is for soup dishes so it is important to ask for the right variety.

No comments: