the clueless
cook's handbook:

what's the difference 
between 
long-grain
and 
short-grain rice?

what's the difference between long-grain and short-grain rice
Rice can be divided into two basic types: short-grain and long-grain. Examples of short-grain rice include Japanese sushi rice and Arborio, while common long-grain types include Carolina rice, as well as the more exotic Basmati and Jasmine varieties. Short-grain rice has a plump shape. The outer layer of short-grain rice (also sometimes referred to as medium-grain rice) absorbs water very easily and as a result, the cooked product ends up soft and a little sticky. Slight stickiness isn't a bad quality it makes it a heck of a lot easier to eat with chopsticks, for instance and in fact, the characteristic can even be taken advantage of by cooking gently over a long period of time and with continuous stirring (to slowly release the starches and yield a creamy texture), as in risotto. Long-grain rice is more slender in shape, and tends to cook up firmer, with each of the grains well-separated. (The exception is jasmine rice, which is actually fairly sticky compared to other long-grain varieties).

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