Although rice is the most basic food we prepare, there are still ongoing debates regarding its history. What is the origin of rice and when was it discovered are few of the most asked questions. Let’s go back in time and discover!
Where was Rice first Discovered?
Rice was found in Asia but as to where exactly, no one knows yet. Most records point to China, where it was first cultivated but few claims were made that it came from India.
But genetic evidence trace both the Indica and Japonica subspecies to have come from single domestication in the Yangtze River Valley in China.
Today, 92% of the world’s total rice population comes from Asia particularly in China, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Philippines, and Japan.
What is Rice Really?
Rice is actually a seed of the grass Oryza which has two subspecies, Sativa (Asian rice) and Glaberrima (African rice). Its cultivation is labour-intensive and requires a lot of rainfall and water supply.
Its varieties range from long, medium, and short-grained rice. The long grain rice is rich in amylose, so the grains remain intact after cooking. Long grain rice is best for rice dishes like fried rice, paella, and more.
The medium grain is rich in amylopectin, which makes it little mushy and sticky after cooking. Medium and short-grained rice are typically used for desserts like rice pudding, sticky rice, and comfort food, risotto.
Types of Rice
When you are a rice lover, I bet you are well-familiar with the different types of rice and the perfect ways to cook each kind. Here are a few popular types!
- Black Rice
- Wild Rice
- Brown Rice
- Red Rice
- And Glutinous or Sticky Rice
How to Cook Rice
It may sound a little weird because rice cooking is one of the basic kitchen tasks yet many people still failed to perfect the routine. Even before, Asians have a unique way of preparing and cooking rice, mind you, every country in Asia has its own version!
Here are the common rice preparations we need to know:
Among the rice cooking differences across Asia, rinsing the rice is perhaps a standard even before.
The main reason why rice is rinsed is to remove dust, dirt, and possible small elements that may harm the body, most especially the arsenic content.
Although our ancestors never heard about arsenic yet nor they knew its harmful effects, they were already washing and rinsing rice until the entire water is clear.
Rice to Water Ratio
The next important thing to remember when cooking rice is the correct water level. Every classification of rice and each type has its own water requirement.
Even though we have the unwritten rule of 1:1 water ratio, for best results, you should read the instructions on the rice brand label.
Up until today, some of us still use the traditional ways of cooking rice. If ever you get the chance to travel around Asia, you can still see some people using wood, stones, and other traditional materials in making a fire.
Cooking rice depends on where you are comfortable and what is convenient for you. Some people may find using stove top method easier in cooking rice. Here’s how they do it: (we’ll be using white rice as an example)
- Measure the exact cup of rice you want
- Place inside the pot and rinse until the water is clear
- If you used 1 cup of rice, then measure 1 cup of water
- Put the pot on top of the stove and cook in medium high heat until it starts to boil
- When the water is almost gone, adjust the heat to the lowest and let it simmer for 15 minutes
- Turn off the heat, fluff the rice with a fork and let it sit for 5 minutes more
- Serve warm!
Rice cooking has also evolved throughout the years and this is where rice cookers became one of the top kitchen appliances. If we look back, Toshiba was the first company to design the very first electric rice cooker in 1956.
Since then, the evolution and innovation just keep getting better. Today, we are enjoying the advantages of modern rice cookers where these devices can cook various rice types and cooking settings.
Each rice cooker has its own technology too. Let’s just take for example a standard electric rice cooker:
- Measure the desired amount of rice
- Wash, rinse, and drain. Place rice inside the rice cooker inner pot
- Measure the exact amount of water
- Place the inner pot into the rice cooker and cover the lid
- Turn on the rice cooker and wait until it automatically switches to keep warm mode
- Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes then turn off the rice cooker and fluff with a spatula
If we take a closer look, rice can either be good or bad, depending on its varieties. If we read more about rice, we begin to get confused as to which type is healthy or not.
Most articles point white rice as the bad one and brown rice as the good rice.
However, if I am going to judge rice based on my personal experience, it all depends on each person’s consumption. I think most coloured rice has great benefits even white rice too as long as you consult your doctor and dietitian.
Rice is not that bad at all. 😛 You can read more about what is the healthiest form of rice and discover which one may work for you.
We have finally understood what is the origin of rice, although, still debatable, what matters is, we all have a clear idea of how rice benefits our bodies. This grain is not just for boiling and steaming, instead, it has overwhelming uses and advantages too.
The next time you will cook rice, you will never see it as an ordinary grain again but a special grain that has crossed many cultures just to get into your plate. 🙂
What’s your favourite rice recipe? Share it with us in the comments below.