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Your Guide to Rice

A primer on the many varieties of rice and the best ways to use them.

By Melissa Clark
Bowl of white riceBeatriz Da Costa

Instant

Essentially long-grain white rice that has been cooked and then dehydrated. The most common way to prepare it is to pour boiling water over it, then toss. Instant rice lacks the texture and flavor of other rices, not to mention a bit of the nutritional value.
Best for: Convenience. It's a fast last-minute addition to soups, stews, or grain salads. Reach for it when speed is key. Otherwise, choose something else.
Cooking time: 5 minutes.

Long-Grain White

An all-purpose rice with a gentle flavor and a semi-firm texture. The grains remain distinct and fluffy whether served hot or dressed and chilled in a salad.
Best for: Soaking up the sauce of a stew or a stir-fry, or alongside any main dish, from fish to poultry to meat. Use leftovers for fried rice, soup, and rice pudding.
Cooking time: 15 to 20 minutes.

Short-Grain White

Slightly less common than long-grain white rice but just as easy to serve. The rice of choice in Asia (and often served in Chinese restaurants), it’s preferred for its pleasantly dense, sticky texture.
Best for: Sushi, paella, rice pudding, rice molds.
Cooking time: 15 to 20 minutes.
 
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Make this crisp salad into a hearty next-day lunch: Tuck the leftovers into a toasted baguette spread with wasabi mayonnaise, wrap tightly, and refrigerate for up to 8 hours.