When I thought of tackling a daunting question like what is the best rice so many thoughts ran through my mind:
- will you be using a rice cooker?
- what are you eating?
- how much time do you have?
- how many people are you feeding?
- what cuisine is it?
- do you like fried, white, red, Spanish, sushi ?
See what I mean? I have about a dozen questions before tackling such a daunting idea! So this guide is going to be a labor of love, or love of grains as we discuss the bountiful field of rice that exists. I know I’ll miss a few. I know I wont have acceptable answers to some. I know there’s just so many thoughts that you’ll have your own opinion. But I encourage you to comment below any thoughts you have so I can make this a comprehensive guide for years to come.
How am I going to sort through it all? I think I’m going to go cuisine.
Wash your rice? Yay or Nay?
What side of the fence are you on? Is there even a fence? A line in the sand? Or a line in the grains if you will? I remember a long time ago I took a summer Japanese class at school. (Lightbulb Mom, I just remembered that!) And part of the class was getting to learn some basic dishes, which included an egg roll and rice. Now I don’t actually think egg rolls are a Japanese cuisine, but I’m not gonna lie and tell you it wasn’t delicious regardless. It was a lumpia style and darn it still imprinted on my mind! Anyway, do you wash your rice? My teacher from that many moons ago.. she did. And she said you had to. And that’s the side of the fence for which I stand. You can check out my YT short on cooking rice below.
Japanese Sushi Rice
Ahhh, a perfect sushi rice can easily elevate any ingredient. My pick for best sushi rice is a short grain from Japan, Ubara Short Grain Rice . This is a product imported and will come at a premium price. Unlike a lot of other rices available on Amazon, this one comes from Japan and the others have “deceiving” packaging which gives you the impression its imported (or just me the impression). If you have lived in Japan, and are familiar with a good glossy grain this is the best rice available.
Other rices like Nozomi or Shirakiku, all boast a premium elegant short grain rice but are all grown in the USA. Of course, if you prefer domestic products my top choice would have to go to Shirakiku short grain rice. This US-grown grain still boasts the premium tag without the import costs. The grain type is the koshihikari which will be sticky, and require an extra bit of wash time. After filtering through reviews and questions, there was a question of old crop versus new crop a few years back but that doesn’t appear to be an issue any longer.
Long Grain Rice
You are going to laugh so hard at me. And this is how you know I’m not a robot somewhere thinking up what to lead you towards! My favorite long grain is Mahatma Long Grain. The bag is found at every grocery store I have ever walked in. I have lived in Virginia and California, Arizona, Texas and Utah. They have been in every national chain, and local grocer. It’s just affordable and consistently good. I’ve never tried their authentic Spanish grain rice so I can’t speak to that. But I can tell you, you wont go wrong making a Spanish rice and toasting those grains with this brand.
Rice for Risotto
Arborio rice is the main ingredient of risotto. It’s a short grain rice. And honestly before I started trying to master the art of the magic risotto, I had no idea it existed. From what I read, it is named after the town of Arborio, in Italy. When you cook the rice, it will leave a firm and creamy texture because of the high starch content. It holds onto flavors well, and is also good in rice pudding. I haven’t tried the latter recipe with arborio, only its complete opposite long grain rice but I now have to try.
First choice, Lundberg Family Farms Arborio Rice. Lundberg boasts its long time harvest, gluten-free, whole grain, vegan and Kosher. Enjoy the versatility of Lundberg White Arborio Rice. Risotto is an Italian technique for cooking Arborio, but this rich, creamy medium grain is versatile. It also plays well in crowd-pleasing puddings and appetizers.
Stay tuned for a magical knock your socks off risotto recipe. Be sure to join the newsletter to be updated when it comes out!
I don’t have a lot of familiarity with some rices so I’ll just briefly touch on them. It definitely has peaked my interest to try other types! Now I’ve gone down a rabbit hole looking at new recipes, new local restaurants and other cuisines to learn more.
Isn’t it cool how Jasmine rice is always fragrant? At least I can say that about Iberia Jasmine. Similar to the arborio I mentioned earlier, this brand is also vegan, gluten-free, kosher and also non-fat. It’s easy to serve this rice along vegetarian entrees, chicken, steak or beef. It is even good in a stir fry with mixed veggies.
Kitchen Gadgets to Cook
Rice Cooker to Buy When on a Budget
The cooker I use is a Zojirushi wanna-be. It doesn’t sing a harmonic tune at the end of the cook time, but it sings to my heart with its every perfect grain of cooked rice. It’s the Amazon Basics Rice Cooker, and it’s… currently unavailable. I posted the link here hoping it’ll come back soon.
Zojirushi rice cooker comparison
The Zojirushi has gathered a lot of hype over the last few years in the US for an imported top-of-the-line rice cooker. Based in Osaka, Japan, Zojirushi as a company has made a name for itself from rice cookers, and insulated cups. A lot of appliances have a cult following, and Zojirushi is one of them. According to the Zojirushi owners, the “fuzzy logic” that allows rice cookers to adjust the cooking settings produces a perfect result each time. So which one should you buy?
Top choice will be the NS-TSC10 which cooks up to 5.5 cups and auto warming function.
A second smaller choice will be the NS-LGC05XB, this one only cooks up to 3 cups so not best for a large family but for a small growing one, this is good.
Instant Pot for rice cooking
Admittedly, I will jump at the chance to do anything in the instant pot because it’s just so much faster! If you’re just getting started using an Instant Pot the only choice for me is the Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1, 6 Quart size. The instant pot as you read my recipes will come quite handy in a myriad of things from rice, to desserts, hard boiled eggs, ribs, roast and even whole chicken. Make the investment to buy an Instant Pot if you haven’t already because this little guy will change your life.
Best small microwave rice cooker
If you’re a family of one, or two, I’d recommend getting a rice cooker for the microwave until you’re ready to commit to a larger appliance. This Joseph Joseph microwave rice cooker is easy on the eyes and boasts a great rating from thousands of reviews. The pot itself is a 2 liter, with a colander, measuring cup and a rice paddle. It actually uses the rice paddle as a lock for the lid which I felt was pretty handy. With the pot only being about 6-inches tall, this is perfect for even small microwaves.