Thursday, 4 March 2010

Riso Italiano

risotto is one Italy's most popular traditional dishes

Not many people know that Arborio is not the only Italian rice available. In fact, there is a variety or rice for every cooking need, here in Italy. Rice has been produced in the north-western part of the country, particularly the the Vercelli region, for over 150 years.
Arborio Rice is well known all over the world. Its grains are large and elongated. Because it doesn't overcook easily, it's perfect for risotto. Riso Baldo has a lot of starch and is used for baking. Then there is Carnaroli (my favourite), a 'cross-breed' between Vialone and Leoncino: it absorbs flavours perfectly. Roma rice, with round grains, is versatile, suitable for many recipes. Riso Sant'Andrea is perfect just boiled and consumed as part of a main dish, like in Asian cuisine. Vialone Nano is similar to Carnaroli but smaller, so it takes less time to cook (13 instead of 18-20 minutes). Riso Venere has recently become very popular in Italy. It's black in colour and similar to wild rice.
Last but not least, Originario is the original rice for us Italians, the one that was already cultivated 150 years ago, from which all the other varieties developed from. Originario is the perfect rice for soups. It expands while cooking, without releasing too much starch.

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