Rice, a staple food in many parts of the world, makes a versatile starch to serve with lunch or dinner. The grain also works well as a dessert, serving as the base for treats such as rice pudding and Thai sticky rice with mango. It does, however, require precise cooking times, since neither underdone or overdone rice is particularly pleasant to eat.
What some people might call "normal" or "standard" rice is the seed of a grass-type plant grown in warm, swampy regions such as Southeast Asia, India and Africa. Rice also is grown in the United States, in warm states such as South Carolina and Texas. Among normal rice varieties, the types that take the longest time to cook are those that still have the hull, or skin, such as brown and red rice. Such rice takes about 40 to 45 minutes to cook, according to "Fine Cooking" magazine.
Wild rice, a seed of a semi-aquatic grass similar to standard rice varieties, is native to North America, but unlike standard rice varieties, this one grows well in the chilly waters of the northern United States and Canada. It's black in color, extra chewy and often is blended with white or brown rice for texture and taste. Wild rice takes about 50 minutes to 1 hour to cook.
Basic Cooking Instructions
To cook rice that still has its hull, add two-and-a-half parts water to one part rice. Set the sauce pan over a medium high-heat burner and bring it to a boil. Turn the burner down to medium heat and monitor the rice as the water evaporates. Once most of the water evaporates off the rice -- you can tell most of the water has evaporated when you see bubble gum-looking bubbles forming on the surface -- place a lid on the pot, turn the burner down to low heat and let the rice steam in the remaining liquid. Avoid stirring the rice during this process, because stirring makes it mushy and unappetizing. You cook wild rice the same way, but add three parts water to one part rice. You also can stir wild rice if you wish, because it doesn't have the same starchy quality that makes normal rice mushy when disturbed.
Rice still in its hull and wild rice are healthy whole grains. So, if you run out of cereal, cook a pot of brown or red rice in the evening and serve it chilled with milk and sweetener for breakfast. You also can cook a pot of wild rice and use it as a healthy, textured topping for salads in place of croutons. As an alternative casserole topping, blend brown or red rice and wild rice together, mix in your favorite seasonings and spices, and add egg white to hold it together.
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Maya Black has been covering business, food, travel, cultural topics and decorating since 1992. She has bachelor's degree in art and a master's degree in cultural studies from University of Texas, a culinary arts certificate and a real estate license. Her articles appear in magazines such as Virginia Living and Albemarle.