Rice Is Nice In Texasby R. Stephen Thompkins
No one really knows the origins of rice. Nevertheless, billons of people consume this ancient grain. Archeological investigations show it was gathered and eaten wild in humankind's prehistory. Such investigations also show it was cultivated in Southest Asia as early as 5000 B. C. in the same region which today consists of Southern China, Thailand, Viet Nam, and Laos. Rice cultivation spread in all directions to India, the Middle East, and Africa. The Moorish invasion of Spain in the eighth century introduced rice into Europe, and it arrived in North and South America in the sixteenth century.
There is no inhabited continent which does not produce rice. Scientists have identified twenty species of rice of which only two, Asian and African, are cultivated today. The African species grows in areas of West Africa. The majority of rice grown today is Asian rice of which there are three major groups, Japonica, Indica, and Javanica.
This variety and ubiquity means that there is no cuisine on the planet that does not have rice on its menu. Naturally, one thinks of Asia where rice is the staple food at every meal. China remains the world's biggest producer with India following as a close second. Readers not from Texas may be surprised to learn that Texas is the fourth largest producer of rice in the United States, and Texas cooking reflects the wide array of rice dishes from hearty side dishes to main courses spanning many ethnic cuisines.
Cooking RiceRice is easy to cook. However, novice chefs find it intimidating. Simply use two parts of water for every cup of rice. For example, a typical rice side dish consists of adding one cup of rice to two cups of boiling water.
Reduce heat immediately to a simmer. Boiled rice loses its texture and flavor. Rice should cook from 15 to 30 minutes depending on its size and processing. White rice and short or medium grain rices take less time. The bran on brown rice takes a longer time to soften. Consequently, brown rice and long grain rices take somewhat longer. Butter and salt are not necessary for cooking rice, however, anyone can add it to taste or if part of a recipe.
Note that this is a very nutritious dish. Rice is not only rich in fiber, but also contains most of the B vitamins. Pine nuts are a rich source of zinc, selenium and other important vitamins.
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