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RICE, RICE, BABY!

Nice and concise advice on rice
 

The first documented account of rice was by a Chinese emperor around 2 800 BC. This is probably why the Chinese word for rice is the same as the word for food, and instead of asking, “How are you?” they asked, “Have you had your rice today?”

But rice has made its mark all around the world. The Thai people say, “Come eat rice,” when they call their families for dinner. Rice is also the first food a new Indian bride offers her husband. She spices it up with fresh ginger and garlic amongst other flavours. In the cold lands of the north, the Finns count the number of rice grains in the bride’s hair to predict how many children they’ll have. And did you know that rice is a symbol of life and fertility, which is why, in some parts of the world, it’s thrown as confetti at weddings?

JAN | Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen | RICE, RICE, BABY!

Five fast facts about rice:

1.     There are more than 40 000 different variants of rice. Apart being used in beer, dog food, baby food, breakfast cereals, snacks, frozen foods and sauces, rice feeds two-thirds of the world’s population.

2.     Rice is a good source of carbohydrates, which provide fuel for the body and are an essential part of a balanced diet.

3.     Protein is the second largest component of rice. It has all eight of the essential amino acids, which are responsible for building muscle tissue, enzymes and antibodies.

4.     Rice is low in fat. It contains no harmful saturated fats or trans-fatty acids, and as part of a balanced diet it helps to keep cholesterol levels healthy.

5.     Rice contains negligible amounts of sodium – less than 5mg sodium per 100g serving to be exact. It is a great food for those who are watching their salt intake.

THE SPEKKO STANDARD

Growing up on a farm, many a meal was served with rice, and today I still have a soft spot for it. I love to use it many different shapes and sizes, often as the star of the dish – rice needn’t bow to any other ingredient. Spekko, the only brand in Southern Africa which is partnered, supplied and supported by the world’s top rice growers and suppliers, produces rice which is GMO and gluten free, and three of the five variants are also low GI.

Spekko Long Grain Parboiled Rice
Parboiled rice is not pre-cooked rice. Both parboiled and white rice are milled and polished. However, parboiled rice is first soaked, steamed and dried before being de-husked. This steaming process allows the rice kernels to absorb nutrients from the husk, which might be lost if the rice is just de-husked and polished as with white rice. This is your everyday rice and the best quality rice available in South Africa. It is grown in Thailand and comes from the same supplier as the world champion Royal Umbrella brand.

As a result of the production process, parboiled grains are also firmer and less sticky than normal white rice. Parboiled rice takes a little bit longer to cook than white rice, but is in general more nutritious. Spekko always cooks up loose, fluffy and delicious and proudly carries the low GI logo, which is not normally the case for parboiled rice.

See my recipes for Lamb Briyani and Spanakopita

 

Spekko’s four “speciality” Rice Brands

Not all rice is created equal. That’s why Spekko has travelled from the foothills of the Himalayas to subtropical forests of Uruguay to find the finest rice the world has to offer and bring it to South African shores. Goodness lies in the recipe. Greatness lies in the ingredients. Rice doesn’t get better than this.

Spekko Royal Umbrella Jasmine Rice

Jasmine rice, from Thailand, has long, translucent grains. When cooked, it has a seductive, slightly floral aroma and a soft, clingy texture. It is named after the pure whiteness of the jasmine flower and has a beautiful aroma, soft and clingy texture and carries the wholesome taste of goodness. This sticky rice goes well with any Thai or Oriental dishes and is great as an ingredient in desserts and bakes.

See my recipe for Rice Lace with Smoked Haddock and Tête de Moine and Jasmine Rice and Cinnamon Doughnuts

Spekko India Gate Basmati Rice

Basmati, the predominant rice in Indian and Pakistani cuisine, is marked by its extra-long grains and  subtly nutty fragrance and flavour. Spekko India Gate Basmati Rice has a strong natural aroma and exceptionally long, fine kernels which double in length when cooked – this is how one can identify a true Basmati vis a Basmati “look-alike”. It also becomes loose and fluffy when cooked. This flavourful and fragrant rice is amazing served with Middle Eastern or Indian dishes such as curries, biryanis and one-pot rice dishes. Spekko India Gate Basmati Rice is classified as Low GI, which is not normally the case for Basmati Rice.

See my recipe for Portuguese Rice and Duck and Baked Jewelled Rice Cake 

Spekko Saman White Rice

Saman White is a top rice variant in its class and is from trend-setting SAMAN – the leading rice manufacturer in Uruguay. Often described as growing the “best quality rice available in the world”, Uruguay has emerged as a major Latin American rice exporter. Spekko Saman White Rice has a snow-white colour and a soft, sticky texture when cooked. Non-parboiled, milled and polished, it is the perfect partner to hearty stews and is often used in desserts and salads.

See my recipe for Rice Cake with Muscadel-soaked Sultanas and Figs

Spekko Saman Brown Rice
Spekko Brown Rice, also from Saman, is from the cream of the crop sourced from the top 300 rice growers in the Americas.  Long-grain brown rice is the whole-grain version of  its white counterpart—that is to say, the bran and germ layers are left intact, giving the rice a nutty, grainy flavor and a chewy bite and takes slightly longer to cook than other varieties. However, the brown variety has about three times more fiber and is higher in protein. The pasta method (cooking the rice in a large pot of boiling water until tender, then draining off the excess water) is a quick way to cook brown rice evenly.

Both fiber and protein promote feelings of fullness and can help you maintain a healthy weight. One of the things that really makes Spekko Saman Brown rice stand out from the crowd is the flavour that is slightly nutty and features a mushroom-like aftertaste. This makes it the perfect accompaniment to salads and stir-fries and other dishes where the rice plays a starring role. Spekko Saman Brown Rice is classified as Low GI.

See my recipe for Rice and Salmon Fishcakes

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