Short grain rice is a small plump grain of rice that is almost as wide as it is long. This rice variety is known for its starch content and the sticky finish the rice has when cooked. Popular uses for short grain varieties of rice include rice balls, sushi and risottos. In the case of risotto, a special short grain variety known as Arborio is typically used. These types of rice are grown primarily in Italy and are one of the shortest and fattest of the short grain varieties.
Due to its high starch content, some dieticians would consider short grain rice to be less healthy than other rice varieties. However, in many dishes, short grain brown rice can be used in place of traditional rice to increase both nutrient content and flavor. While rice is already a great source of B vitamins, iron and magnesium, the outer bran coating on brown rice adds a healthy dose of dietary fiber and protein to the list of benefits. While some diets may not recommend a high amount of starch intake, rice is one of the most nutritional and balanced starches available and learning how to cook rice can improve your health.
Sushi is not only one of the most popular uses for rice in many countries today, but one of the healthiest as well. The sticky, mildly sweet rice used to make sushi is comprised of short grain rice treated with a mixture of rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Preparing sushi rice is an excellent lesson in how to cook short grain rice. The first step in cooking sushi rice, as with many rice dishes, is to rinse the rice. You can do this by placing the rice in a bowl and filling the bowl with cool water until the rice is barely submerged. Using your hands, gently swirl and mix the rice. After the water has become cloudy, drain the water and refill the bowl with water. Repeat this process until the resulting water is mostly clear. At this point, place the rice into a pot with an equal amount of water. Over high heat, bring the water and rice to a boil. It is important to leave the pot uncovered at this point as this will help the water to evaporate and create the sticky consistency we are looking for without overcooking your short grain rice. When the water reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover. After 15 minutes, remove the rice from the heat. Leave it covered and let it rest for 10 minutes. This will allow the moisture to redistribute and the starches to set.
Combine two tablespoons of rice vinegar, two tablespoons of sugar and one tablespoon of salt in a small wooden or plastic bowl for every two cups of cooked rice. Heat the mixture slightly in the microwave. Add your cooked short grain rice to the warmed mixture and lightly fold it using a wooden or silicone spatula or spoon. Once it has cooled, you are ready to make rice balls, sushi or sashimi. Sushi rice also makes a great stand-alone side dish for many proteins and vegetables giving it amazing nutritional flexibility.