Long grain, short grain, brown, wild, Basmati, Jasmine…there’s a lot of rice out there. It’s. Rice. Can’t you just use any variety for your cottage cooking? Sometimes, sure. Almost all rice works for stuffing meat or fish, for casseroles, and for soups such as chowders. But different kinds of rice contain different amounts of starches. This affects whether the grains clump together or remain distinct after cooking.
In general, short-grain rice is sticky, with plump, stubby kernels that more easily bunch up. (Medium-grain rice is slightly longer.) Shorter grains work better for pudding, risotto, and sushi. Slender long-grain rice kernels, on the other hand, stay separated; better for pilafs, side dishes, salads, and fried rice. Both Jasmine and Basmati are aromatic, but Jasmine rice tends to cling together when cooked—easier to eat with chopsticks. Fluffy Basmati goes well with curries and adds flavour to one-pot dishes.
Wild rice is actually a protein- and fibre-rich grass seed. You can often sub it in for white or brown rice, as long as you allow more cooking time.