In no time, we’ll be looking for the meaning of ancient in the dictionary and there will be a Chinese flag next to it and what’s more, that won’t come as a surprise to anyone because when we hear ancient culture and we immediately go to China to wonder ourselves with facts and history.
Chinese gastronomy is a key element in the culture because it definitely is not only one of the world’s oldest but also one of the most unique cuisines. This culture in general has evolved at the same time it developed new ways, new technologies, and traditions that do not escape the gastronomy itself.
It’s true, ingredients are not so much as infinite in this world and there’s a list of ingredients that go across countries, cultures, and cuisines, rice is probably at the top of that list. We’ll find rice in many, many Chinese recipes and not only in those made for lunch or dinner, but also in those made for the afternoon or even breakfast. Versatile as it is, rice has survived the changes this particular cuisine has been through and it’s still one of the most used.
Rice Types and Best Fits
Now is every rice the same? To answer shortly, no. Even though we can generally use them interchangeably, some types of rice are a better fit for some recipes. Take Chinese congee as an example.
Congee is a porridge cooked and eaten during breakfast, it’s bland and creamy. So, going back to the question in the title, Arborio rice is a great option for this recipe as it has a great amount of starch. When you cook it, this rice releases the starch which gives a creamier and thicker texture to it, exactly what we’re looking for in a porridge.
So, in short, yes, This short-grain rice can be used when cooking Chinese congee and it’s a better fit than other types of rice.
Now What’s a Chinese Congee?
It’s a typical breakfast dish that mixes both sweet and savory flavors. Here’s a recipe for you to follow, in case you want to try it out. Take into account that you’ll need to cook the rice so it will take longer than a regular breakfast.
- 1 cup of Arborio rice.
- 8 cups of water.
- 1 tbsp of salt.
- A pinch of pepper.
- Shredded peanuts.
- Pour a cup of Arborio rice into a middle size bowl and rinse the rice at least three times or until the water comes off as transparent as it can.
- Take a big pot and pour the rinsed rice. Add eight cups of water.
- Bring the mix to a boil and stir, but not continuously. Do not cover the pot.
- Let the mix cook for twenty minutes. Once the rice is ready, turn off the heat, put on the lid, and let it steam for an extra twenty minutes.
- Open the pot and serve. Season it as you want, you may use salt and pepper.
- Top it with the peanuts.
The cooking and steaming time may vary according to your pot, your heater, and also the kind of rice you’re using. Go back to the pot and stir from time to time to check how it’s going and once the water is almost completely absorbed, you can go on with the next step. Now, consider that the more time you let it sit once cooked, the thicker the congee will get.
Now as for what you can add, people serve this meal typically during breakfast, but you can also use it for lunch. In that case, there’s no traditional recipe, people add whatever they want to it. Shredded peanuts or walnuts are very common and that’s what we use in this recipe, but you can also make it more of a lunch meal by adding chopped chicken or pork.
The final tip has to do with storage. You can store porridge in an airtight container in your refrigerator and that will last up to three days. Unlike other meals made with rice, this is not a very good idea if you’re trying to meal-prep as the essence of the congee is the rice cooking which can’t really be done in advance.
Characteristics of Arborio Rice
Arborio rice is a short-grain rice variety that is plump and round in shape. It has a high starch content, which is responsible for its signature creamy texture when cooked. The rice is also rich in amylopectin, a type of starch that is responsible for the rice’s ability to absorb liquids without breaking down or becoming too soft.
When cooked, Arborio rice has a chewy texture and a slightly nutty flavor. It is able to absorb the flavors of the ingredients it is cooked with, making it a popular choice for risotto dishes. The rice also has a high glycemic index, which means it can cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels.
Culinary Uses of Arborio Rice
Arborio rice is primarily used in risotto dishes, which are a staple of Italian cuisine. Risotto is a creamy rice dish that is made by slowly cooking the rice with stock and other ingredients until it is tender and creamy. The starch in Arborio rice is responsible for the creamy texture of risotto, as the rice absorbs the liquid and releases its starch, creating a velvety sauce.
Arborio rice is also used in rice pudding, another popular dish that is made by cooking rice with milk, sugar, and other flavorings until it becomes thick and creamy. The creamy texture of Arborio rice makes it a perfect choice for this dish, as it is able to absorb the flavors of the other ingredients while maintaining its texture.
Aside from its traditional uses in Italian cuisine, Arborio rice is also versatile enough to be used in other dishes. It can be used as a side dish for meats and vegetables, or it can be used in soups and stews to add thickness and creaminess.