Introduction to Rice
Rice is the most important staple crops which feed about half of the world population today. Rice is gluten-free, and it rich on slow-burning carbohydrate. After eating rice, it takes longer before you get hungry again in contrast with other energy source (bread, potato, energy bars, etc.). Due to the nature of steady release of energy, it also gives you longer-lasting stamina in sports. It is full of nutrients and highly beneficial vitamins including Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, and Folic Acid.
Rice belongs to genus Oryza which consists of two cultivated species and 22 wild species. They are separated into two subspecies: indica and japonica, which are identified by shapes and textures (long grain vs. short grain). The rice species in Thailand are mostly Oryza Sativa L. sub-specie indica (long grain). Variation of Long-grain Jasmine rice, which you find at most Asian restaurants, belong to this group as well. Do all O. Sativa L. Jasmine rice have the same taste, texture, and fragrance? Not exactly so. There are varieties of jasmine rice; some have fragrance, and some don’t. Some have rougher texture, some are softer. Some jasmine rice are annual, and some are perennial. Out of all jasmine rice you see in the market, “Thai Hom Mali rice” is considered to be the best of all jasmine rice.
For Thai Hom Mali Rice, the story began in 1954 when 199 samples, various jasmine rice among them, were collected from numerous locations, and they were later sent to an experimental station in Lopburi province in Thailand for pure line selection. It was selection #105 (out of 199 total) that impressed those who were involved. It was named Khao Dawk Mali 105, and it was the ancestor of all of Khao Hom Mali rice as we know it today. Thai Hom Mali rice is strictly regulated by the Thai government.
Basic characteristics of Khao Hom Mali Rice:
- Grown and harvested only once per year – around the end of November
- Average dimension (milled, unpolished rice) 7.5 x 2.1 x 1.8 mm
- Amylose level is around 12% – 17%
- Once it is properly cooked, it is soft, and it has a nice calming smell of pandan
- So far, commercially, it can only be grown and harvested within a limited area in Thailand
Another type of rice, which is believed to be the rice that Thai people had mainly consumed for thousands of years, is Thai Glutinous Rice. At the present, it is generally grown in the northern part of Thailand. It is much stickier than Hom Mali Jasmine Rice due to lower level of amylose and high level of amylopectin which makes such rice gelatinous. It is still widely eaten by northern and northeastern part of Thailand.
Basic characteristics of Thai Glutinous Rice:
- Once it is properly cooked, it is sticky and has subtle sweet taste
- Low amylose / high amylopectin
- Comes in various colors (white, red, black) and bear many unofficial names
- Tastes great with Thai papaya salad, BBQ chicken, and larb
Stay tuned for additional information of Thai rice and more variety of rice from around the world. Our goal is to bring you all types of rice that are available in this beautiful world and let you be the judge on which rice suites you best. See you next time.