Rice, Rice Baby: 7 Different Ways to Prepare the World’s Most Popular Grain

That rice is one heckuva grain.

As the staple food for more than half of the world’s population, rice provides more than one-fifth of total calories consumed by humans. Nutrition-wise, it’s a complex carbohydrate low on calories, cholesterol, fat, and sodium. And because rice can be grown in nearly all climates and environments, it makes an appearance in almost every cuisine.

It follows, then, that dozens of methods for preparing rice have sprung up around the world, depending on the environment, technology, and materials available. Here, some of the most common.

In Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and parts of China, rice is cooked in terra-cotta clay pots either together with or topped with ingredients like Chinese sausage, chicken, and vegetables.

Electric rice cookers were first produced in 1945 by the Mitsubishi Electric Corporation of Japan. Now they can be found in kitchens and dorm rooms around the world.

For those who like their rice sticky, a sticky rice steamer kit from Thailand is just the ingredient. Just add mangos.

Ohsawa pots are earthenware vessels designed for use with a pressure cooker, intended to unleash the full flavor potential of brown rice for people following a macrobiotic diet.

The traditional Spanish paella pan hails from Valencia, with a flat surface for sautéing meats and vegetables before adding in rice.

Cooking rice doesn’t require more than a pot, a fire, and a little bit of water.

And when resources are really limited, you can always rely on the power of the sun, like these students using solar cookers in Hawaii.

Images: Lali Masriera, Chrissy Olson, magical-world, Angelo Amboldi, Like_the_Grand_Canyon, Miheco, Jason Lam, Sam Felder, [J], Deborah Austin, EBKauai

Jessica Marati

Jessica Marati currently resides in New York City and covers travel and sustainability for EcoSalon. Catch her weekly column, Behind the Label.