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Rice (Oryza sativa) is a species of grass in the genus Oryza, native to tropical and subtropical southeastern Asia, where it grows in wetlands. It is an annual plant, growing to 1-1.8 m tall, occasionally more, with long slender leaves 50-100 cm long and 2-2.5 cm broad. The small wind-pollinated flowers are produced in a branched arching to pendulous inflorescence 30-50 cm long. The seed is a grain (caryopsis) 5-12 mm long and 2-3 mm thick.
The seeds of the rice plant are first milled to remove the outer husks of the grain; this creates brown rice. This process may be continued, removing the germ and the rest of the husk, called bran at this point, creating white rice. The white rice may then be buffed with glucose or talc powder (often called polished rice), parboiled, or processed into flour. The white rice may also be enriched to add nutrients, especially those lost during the milling process. While the cheapest method of enriching involves adding a powdered blend of nutrients that will easily wash off (in the United States, rice which has been so treated requires a label warning against rinsing), more sophisticated methods which apply nutrients directly to the grain and then coat the grain with a water insoluble substance are resistant to washing.
While washing is counterproductive for the powder enriched rice, it is absolutely necessary to create a better tasting and better consistency of rice when polished rice (illegal in some countries including the United States) is used.
Rice bran, called nuka in Japan, is a valuable commodity in Asia and is used for many daily needs. It is a moist inner oily layer that is heated to produce a very healthy oil. Another use is to make a kind of pickled vegetable.
The raw rice may be ground into flour for many uses as well, including making many kinds of beverages such as amazake, horchata, rice milk, and sake. Rice flour is generally safe for people on a gluten-free diet.
The processed rice seeds are usually boiled or steamed to make them edible, after which they may be fried in oil, or butter, or beaten in a tub to make mochi.
Rice, like other cereal grains, can be puffed (or popped). This process takes advantage of the grains' moisture content and typically involves heating grain pellets in a special chamber. Further puffing is sometimes accomplished by processing pre-puffed pellets in a low-pressure chamber. By the ideal gas law, one can see that both lowering the local pressure or raising the moisture temperature would result in an increase in volume prior to moisture evaporation, thus resulting in a puffy texture.
Like beans, rice should be soaked prior to cooking. Not only will the rice cook faster, but it will also have an improved texture. When preparing brown rice, a nutritionally superior method of preparation known as GABA Rice may be used. By this method, a result of the United Nations Year of Rice, it is possible to obtain a complete amino acid profile, including GABA. This is accomplished by stimulating germination, which activates various enzymes. GABA rice is prepared in the following manner: Soak washed brown rice for 8 to 12 hours in warm water (100or 38Cook and use as normal.
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