3 Types of Rice Used in Thai Cooking

Rice is an important staple in Thai cooking. While rice can be found all over Asia, the type of rice used in Thai dishes differs from other Asian cultures because it is grown and harvested differently.

Rice is grown in Thailand’s lowlands, which are flooded by monsoon rains from May to October each year.

The soil of these flood plains provides a fertile environment for the rice plants to grow quickly with strong roots that can withstand long periods underwater.

Here, we’ll explore three of the most popular types of rice most commonly used in Thai cooking.

  1. Jasmine rice
  2. Glutinous Rice (Sticky Rice)
  3. Brown rice

What are the differences between Jasmine, Glutinous and brown rice in Thai food?

Jasmine Rice

Jasmine rice is a long-grain variety of fragrant rice and is the most common type used in Thai cooking. Jasmine rice can be found in these three main types:

Raw Jasmine Rice
The raw variation is typically sold as a brown or white-colored grain with an aroma that has been described to smell like popcorn or fresh flowers.        

Steamed Jasmine Rice
This variation is steamed before it’s served. The rice has a nutty aroma and the grains are dry unlike boiled or wet varieties of Jasmine rice.

Boiled Jasmine Rice
The boiled variety is typically sold as a light yellow or white-colored grain that has been soaked in water before cooking and results in an almost sticky texture when cooked. This type of rice can be found with other grains mixed into it.

How To Cook Jasmine Rice?

The best way to cook Thai jasmine rice is by following these four steps:

  1. Rinse the rice until water runs clear and then soak for at least ten minutes in cold water
  2. Add a half cup of dried Thai jasmine rice to two cups of boiling water, stir once or twice and bring back to boil
  3. Reduce heat to low so that it simmers gently. Cover with  a tight-fitting lid and cook for 15 minutes or until the water has been absorbed
  4. Take off heat, remove the pot from the stove. Let stand covered for an additional five to ten minutes before uncovering.

Jasmine Rice vs White Rice

Long-Grain White RiceJasmine Rice
Protein4 grams4 grams
Fat0 grams1 gram
Carbs36 grams39 grams
Cooked rice, 140 grams (1 cup) SOURCE: Healthline (https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/jasmine-rice-vs-white-rice#nutrition)

The main difference between Jasmine rice and white rice is the aroma and taste. Jasmine is a type of rice that’s long-grained, sticky but not too soft, with an earthy flavor.

It turns out fluffy when cooked and has sweet or nutty notes in its natural state. White rice on the other hand is shorter grained than Jasmine, drier both raw and cooked.   

The flavor of white rice is more neutral than Jasmine, with a subtle sweetness.

The cooking time for both types varies greatly and depends on the hardness or softness desired in the grains.

Glutinous Rice

Glutinous Rice (short grain) is a type of rice used in Thai cooking and other Asian cuisines. It’s also called Sticky or Sweet Rice because it gets sticky when cooked and stir-fried with vegetables, meat, shrimp etc.

The most common types are white Glutinous Rice (the variety usually found at the grocery store) and Black  Glutinous Rice (also known as “forbidden rice” because it was once reserved for royalty).

Glutinous Rice is also made from a different species of rice plant called Thai Jasmine or Thai Rose. The grains are much smaller and the texture is moister than other types of long-grain brown rice. It has a higher starch content which makes it stickier than other types of rice.

Glutinous Rice is used in Thai dishes, like Massaman Curry and Pad Thai. It’s also cooked with a little sugar to make sweet desserts such as mango sticky rice or Khao Neeo Mamuang.

How To Cook Glutinous Rice?

The best way to cook Thai Glutinous rice is by following these five steps:

  1. Rinse the glutinous rice several times with cold water, until it’s no longer cloudy and the excess starch is gone.
  2. Soak the rice in water overnight.
  3. Rinse them again before cooking.
  4. Use 2 cups of water for every cup of rice.
  5. Bring the water to a boil then add in the rice and cook for about 15 minutes or until it is cooked through but still firm.

Glutinous Rice vs White Rice

Long-Grain White RiceGlutinous Rice
Protein2.7 gram2 grams
Fat0.3 gram0.2 gram
Carbs28.2 grams21.1 grams
Cooked rice 100 grams, SOURCE: Nutrition Data (https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/5722/2)

The main difference between Glutinous rice and white rice is that the texture is different.

Glutinous rice has a chewier and glutenous consistency, whereas white rice tends to be sticky but not as chewy.

Glutinous rice is usually stronger in flavor than white rice and is often preferred by Thai people.

The cooking time for Glutinous Rice is usually higher and more water.

Can You Use Regular Rice Instead Of Glutinous Rice?

This is a common question asked by Thai food lovers that are trying to cook their own Thai dishes at home.

The answer is, yes and no.

If you’re looking for a dish with some chewiness or bite to it, then glutinous rice may be the better option as it will yield more of these qualities when cooked in liquid than regular rice would. However, if you’re looking for a dish with a softer texture, then regular rice would be the better option.

Brown Rice

Brown rice comes in both short and long grain.  it has a nutty flavor and dense texture, which makes this type of Thai cooking go well with soups or other thick dishes because it’s not too soft for the dish.

Brown rice also contains more protein than white rice does, as well as fiber, vitamins B-complex and iron.

Brown rice should be soaked before cooking, which will help make it easier to digest as well as soften the grain for a better texture in dishes.

Brown rice is also low on calories because of its dense texture so if you’re looking for an alternative to white or jasmine rice that has more nutritional benefits and fewer carbs then brown rice is for you.

How To Cook Brown Rice?

The best way to cook Thai brown rice is by following these four steps:

  1. First, rinse the brown rice until the water runs clear.
  2. Cook it in a pot of boiling, salted water for 45 to 50 minutes until soft and chewy.
  3. Brown rice is done when you can easily fluff up with a fork without any hard spots or grains left behind.
  4. Now enjoy! The result should be light, fluffy brown rice with a nutty taste.

Brown Rice vs White Rice

Long-Grain White RiceBrown Rice
Protein2.7 gram2.6 grams
Fat0.3 gram0.9 gram
Carbs28.2 grams23 grams
Cooked rice 100 grams, SOURCE: Nutrition Data (https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/5707/2)

White rice is the most common type of rice consumed in America. It’s what people often think about when they hear “rice.”

Brown rice, on the other hand, is a more natural form of this grain that still contains its bran layer which provides vitamins and minerals.

Brown rice is also higher in fiber than white rice, which makes it more filling and nutritious for those looking to lose weight or eat a healthier diet.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a fan of Thai cooking, then you know that rice is an important part of the cuisine.

It’s not just about throwing some rice in some boiling water and stirring; there are different types of rice used to create the distinct flavors found in popular dishes like Pad Kee Mao or Pa-Nang.

Rice is an important staple in Thai cooking. In all of Asia, rice can be found and eaten as a side dish or on its own but the type of rice used differs from country to country.

The most common types are:

  • Jasmine rice
  • Glutinous rice (sticky)
  • Brown rice

The type of rice you choose for your dish is very important. Jasmine rice, glutinous rice (sticky rice), and brown rice all have different cooking times, textures, flavors and health benefits associated with them.

Jasmine rice is known for its distinct flavor, but it also packs a powerful punch of nutrients. It’s rich in fiber and helps keep you feeling full longer while providing lots of energy to help power through the day without crashing mid-afternoon.

Glutinous rice (sticky rice) is great for dishes that use sauces such as fried or sweet and sour because it sticks together well but also has a nice chewy texture to it.

Brown rice can be used in many recipes due to its versatility which makes it perfect for any mealtime from breakfast through dinner.

If you have any tips on Thai rice, please share them down in the comments.

Let’s share and learn together!

Happy Cooking!

Zac & Terri Signature

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