Guide to TJ's Rice
"Rice is the best, the most nutritive and unquestionably the most widespread staple in the world." — Auguste Escoffier, 19th century French chef
Rice is the best. The wholesome, cereal grain serves as a staple for two-third’s of the world’s population. (That’s a lot of people.) As such, rice is an integral ingredient in culinary traditions of many different cultures (sushi, stir fry, pudding, curry…), each with its own preferences regarding texture, taste and color. Luckily, there are some 40,000 different varieties of rice, grown throughout the world. (That’s a lot of rice).
We don’t carry 40,000, but we sure have a fine variety of rice at Trader Joe’s. From Basmati and Brown to Jasmine and Red, our rice selection offers difference in texture, taste and color. From fully-cooked and frozen, to whole grains and medleys, our selection also offers plenty of difference in preparation. To help you find the Trader Joe’s Rice that best suits your recipe(s), we’ve categorized our rice offerings and their corresponding characteristics, and followed that up with a few grains of wisdom about cooking and serving.
Trader Joe's Rice Varieties
Basmati Rice(a.k.a Indian “Fragrant” Rice – Basmati is the Sanskrit word for “fragrant”)
• Nutty aroma
• Delicate, fluffy texture
• Very dry, light and separate—non-glutinous
• Long-grain, lengthens even more once cooked
• Indian Chicken Biryani
• Persian Rice Pilaf with dried fruit, almonds and saffron
• Soaking up the sauce of a hearty Beef Stew
(a.k.a Thai Fragrant Rice, because of its origin and floral aroma)
• Delicate floral aroma
• Soft, clingy texture when cooked
• Slightly firm chew
• Served alongside Thai Green Chicken Curry
• With Black Bean & Corn Chili
• Fried Jasmine Rice with Pineapple & Shrimp
Brown Rice (Domestic)(a.k.a White rice, but with the bran & germ still intact)
• Soft, sticky, tender
• Medium-grain & Long-grain
• Rolled in homemade sushi
• Stuffed in burritos, wraps and pitas
• Topped with avocado, fried egg and hot sauce
Sprouted Rice(a.k.a GABA [gamma-aminobutyric acid – an amino acid believed to have health giving properties] Rice)
• Bran intact & sprouted
• Slightly chewy
• Earthy aroma
• Nutty & slightly sweet flavor
• Considered to have a more complete amino acid profile due to sprouting
• Try in place of barley, bulgur or couscous
• With tilapia and veggies
• In a lettuce wrap with chicken, peppers and peanuts
Wild Rice(a.k.a "Aquatic Grass" — it's not really a rice)
• Firm, deeply chewy outer sheath
• Tender on the inside with slightly vegetal taste
• When cooked, the kernels typically split open
• Vine Tomatoes Stuffed w/ Wild Rice, Mushrooms & Gruyere
• Mixed with cranberries, nuts and squash as a side salad
• Chicken, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup
Rice Blends(a.k.a Looks like you spent more time on it than you actually did...)
• Boost of flavor from seasonings
• Added nutrients, texture and color from mixture of grains
• Different grains prepared to cook evenly together
• Nutty, toasted notes
• Short-grain & Long-grain
• A unique salad base
• Add protein to make a main dish
• Sprinkle with fresh herbs
How Much To Make?
For the recommended serving size, always check the package. Otherwise, a good rule of thumb is:
Main dish – 1/2 cup uncooked rice per person
Side dish – 1/4 cup uncooked rice per person
If you make more than you need, no problem – store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge and make fried rice the next day with a smattering of soy sauce, vegetables and egg.
"Talk does not cook rice." — Chinese proverb
A trusty rice cooker is a dependable companion, but certainly not the only way to cook a perfect pot of rice. Following are a few cooking methods explained:
This is the most common way to cook rice, though by no means the most simple. Cover grains with a measured amount of liquid (roughly 2 parts water: 1 part rice, check package for specifics) bring it to a boil, cover with a tight fitting lid, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed and the grains are tender. As the water level drops, trapped steam finishes the cooking. Stand covered for 5 minutes, fluff with a fork and serve.
• Variation 1 – Steaming: This method is similar to the absorption method, but after simmering for 8-10 minutes, transfer the rice to a colander and steam over the pan of boiling water until cooked through.
• Variation 2 – Toasting: This method involves cooking dry rice grains in oil over medium heat for a few minutes, before adding liquid to the pot. This process helps bring out the grains’ natural nutty, toasty aromas. Once grains are toasted, add the measured amount of liquid. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer the grains until the liquid is absorbed and the grains are tender.
• Variation 3 – Microwaving: Use a microwave-safe container large enough to hold twice as much rice and water as you start with (or it will boil over). Cover with plastic wrap and heat on high until cooked through.
TIP 1: Forget About It! One of the most common blunders made by the home cook when preparing rice this way is to remove the lid frequently to check the progress of the water absorption. It is important to keep the moisture (in the form of steam) in the pan. While the rice is cooking, simply cover the pan and forget about it… until the cooking time is up, then check!
TIP 2: DO NOT Stir It Up! It is also important not to stir the rice during the cooking, because stirring releases starch from the rice, which will cause it to become sticky. While the rice is cooking, simply cover the pan and forget about it… until the cooking time is up, then check!
Boiling "Pasta" Method
This method involves adding grains to a large pot of salted, boiling water and cooking. Strain once the grains are tender. This avoids any need to measure the correct amount of water to absorb.
Tip 3: Don’t Stress About Cooking Time: Let your rice cook. Be confident in the knowledge that even burnt rice is considered a delicacy in some culinary traditions. Koreans eat it as a crisp snack or turn it into a tea. In Iranian cuisine, the burnt rice is often quarreled over because it so coveted. Just consider…
Tips To Get More Flavor
• Use vegetable or chicken broth instead of water for boiling the rice (for the adventurous, try unsweetened apple juice or jasmine tea)
• Sauté raw rice grains with garlic, onion and spices during the "Toasting" method
• Serve with a pat of butter or a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese
• Toss cooked rice with fresh herbs (cilantro, thyme, chives, basil or sage) and a squeeze of lime
Anatomy Of A Grain
Common Terms Explained
Al dente – Italian for "to the tooth." Al dente describes a firm, chewy texture when cooled.
Bran – The protective outer layer of a cereal grain that is responsible for the nutty flavor and brown color.
Brown Rice – Whole cereal grain with the bran and germ layers still intact. Compared to white rice, it’s more fibrous and nutrient-rich, though the cooking time tends to be longer and the shelf life much shorter.
Enriched Rice – The process in which thiamine, niacin and iron are added back to rice that has been stripped of these nutrients during the milling process.
Germ – The germ is the embryo of the rice kernel. It's nutrient dense, containing vitamins, minerals, protein and oils.
Glutinous – Refers to a sticky texture. The consistency of "sticky" rice is determined by two kinds of starch in the kernels: amylose and amylopectin. The more amylopectin, the stickier the texture. Note: “Glutinous” is not the same as “Glutenous” (containing gluten).
Long-grain – The grain length-to-height ratio is about 4-to-1. Typically dry and firm once cooked.
Medium-grain – The grain length-to-height ratio is about 3-to-1. Often grouped with Short-grain rice.
Parboiled (converted rice) – Parboiled rice has been partially boiled in the hull. The three steps of parboiling are soaking, steaming and drying. These steps make it easier to process the rice by hand, while boosting its nutritional profile and changing its texture.
Rinsing – Washing the rice with water prior to cooking to remove excess starch and improve texture and taste. This can be repeated up to 2-3 times until water becomes clear.
Short-grain – The grain length-to-height ratio is about 1-to-1. Typically sticky and soft once cooked.
Soaking – Though not required, soaking rice in water for an hour before cooking can reduce the cooking time and help with digestion by allowing more moisture to penetrate the center of the kernel.
Sprouted – Rice is soaked in warm water prior to cooking to stimulate germination, which activates enzymes to deliver a more complete amino acid profile.
Quick-Cook – The process in which raw rice is scratched, or scarified, which means the grains of rice are rubbed, or bumped, against each other, opening pathways for water to penetrate the grains while cooking. Then the rice is briefly steamed, which makes it bendable which is important for the next step, when the rice is rolled. The rolling allows for faster water absorption when cooking. These three simple processes cut the cooking time by about 65%.
White Rice – Brown rice with the bran and germ layers removed, resulting in a shorter cooking time, longer shelf life, tender texture, and sweet flavor.
Whole Grain – A cereal grain where the germ, endosperm, and bran are intact.