It is not always easy to explain how a certain food item becomes a staple in a culture. In the case of Asia, rice is much more than that. Asian rice is a staple food for half of the world population. When a meal has been consumed by people’s ancestors on a daily basis, sometimes even multiple times per day, it means that a tradition was born. Like most whole grain rice, brown jasmine rice is rich in nutrients, including vitamin B1, vitamin B6, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, and manganese. But there were many available options, so why Asian rice?
Asian Rice: Little Protein and Very Little Fat
Warm and wet
Weather definitely played a role here since crops need a humid environment and warm temperatures to thrive. The conditions were actually so good that more than 40,000 varieties of rice grew. Then, it was just a matter of time, each regional cuisine created recipes in which rice was the star. Of all the different varieties, Jasmine and Basmati are nowadays the most consumed rice types in Asia. Many people face a conundrum when trying to differentiate between them. If you are one of them, we got you covered! Keep reading, you’re about to become a rice connoisseur.
Jasmine or Basmati, that is the question
Long time controversy: Jasmine vs Basmati rice. If it were a fight, who would win? Fortunately, this is not a competition so you don’t have to choose! Now, confusion is well-founded: both are aromatic and long-grain varieties. Where do the differences lie then? Actually, when you know where to look, you’ll see that they are not that similar.
First of all, you must see the grain appearance. When uncooked, Jasmine rice grains have rounded ends, while those of the Basmati variety tend to be sharper. After cooking it is much easier to tell the difference between them. The first thing to mention is aromas: Jasmine has a much stronger floral aroma than Basmati, which many people find very similar to nuts. But truly the biggest difference is in the texture since Jasmine rice grains clump together whereas Basmati does not. This is because cooking methods differ, with Jasmine you can apply the steaming method but Basmati needs to be soaked in water at least for half an hour before cooking.
Regarding nutritional value, Jasmine variety is much higher in calories than Basmati so if you are on a diet, this is an aspect that you should take into account.
All things considered, if you are wondering if these varieties are interchangeable, the answer is yes. Of course, you need to bear in mind that for some recipes like risotto a softer texture is required, in that case you have to resort to Jasmine rice.
Other preparations, such as Indian style dishes, will be much better with Basmati since it has a drier character. On this occasion, we brought you an Asian-inspired recipe that goes perfectly well with either of them so you don’t have to choose. Enjoy!
Ingredients (2 servings):
- ½ pound chicken breast, in cubes.
- 1 tbsp sesame oil.
- 1 cup Jasmine or Basmati rice, uncooked.
- 2 cups of water.
- 3 tbsp dark soy sauce.
- 1 tbsp cane sugar.
- 1 tsp white vinegar.
- 2 garlic cloves, minced.
- 1 tsp ginger.
- 1 tsp cayenne.
- Salt and pepper.
- Sesame seeds, optional.
- Bring the 2 cups of water to a boil and cook the rice you have chosen. It will take 8-9 minutes for Jasmine and 10-12 for Basmati. Remember that if you are going to use Basmati, you should soak it in water for 30 minutes before starting with the preparation. When ready, reserve.
- In a bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, white vinegar, cane sugar, garlic cloves, ginger and cayenne. Add chicken and give it a mix, until it is well coated. Cook the chicken in a skillet with sesame oil over medium-heat. It will take 10-12 minutes on each side.
- Incorporate the rice and a tablespoon of dark soy sauce. Season, give it a stir and cook for 2-3 minutes. Serve with sesame seeds on top.
There won’t probably be any leftovers but if there are, wait for the preparation to be at room temperature and put it into an airtight container. When properly stored in the fridge, it will last up to 3-4 days.
Sesame seeds are not your cup of tea? This dish pairs perfectly with some cilantro too. If you prefer a spicier twist, try some red pepper flakes but be careful, just a sprinkle will do.
by Andrew Ellis
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