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When you take the name "Arborio", the only name that comes to your mind is Italy. It is named so after the town of Arborio in the Piedmont region where it is originally cultivated. Today, it is grown in Texas and California too.
It is short (almost round) grain rice with high starch content, which is used to prepare the classic "Risotto". It has a pearly white exterior and comes in various sizes. Since it undergoes less milling than ordinary long grained rice, it retains more natural starch content. Because of its brilliant absorption capacities, it gives risotto the creamy consistency the recipe demands.
Technically speaking, Arborio is the only rice that should be used to prepare risotto. However, varieties of rice like Vialone Nano and Carnaroli are more commonly used when Arborio is not affordable or available. Like pasta, arborio rice is prepared al dente, which means that it should be slightly firm to the bite - a degree of doneness that might seem underdone in ordinary white rice.
Cooked arborio rice
In a deep pan, wash and soak the rice for half hour. Drain well. Bring enough water along with some salt to boil in a deep pan. Add the rice, cover tightly and simmer (cook over low heat) for about 20 minutes or until the rice is tender "al dente" (firm to the bite). Stir the rice occasionally while it is cooking.
How to select
Commonly available in the "white" variety, it is available in "brown" variety too. However, its texture is not as creamy as the white variety would give. Thus, choose accordingly. Ensure that the grains are oval and short in size. Buy arborio rice in the packaged grain section of your food or grocery store. It may also be sold in bulk at many health food stores. When buying bulk arborio rice, look for intact kernels that aren't broken, scratched, or damaged.
· A basic risotto makes use of parmesan cheese, butter, rice, wine and stock. Use a basic risotto to make asparagus risotto, mushroom risotto etc.
· If you have left over risotto, combine with cheese, breadcrumbs and spices to make deep fried risotto rice balls. Serve these as a snack.
· It also works well for the Spanish delicacy "Paella" and for rice puddings.
· Add cucumber and spices to cooked Arborio rice and use as a variation to salad. Apart from salads, use it in soups and rice puddings.
How to store
Store uncooked rice in a cool, dry area in a sealed glass or plastic container, away from moisture.
· It is a good source of iron (around 2.75 mg per 1 cup cooked rice).
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