Rice and Flour are some of the most important ingredients used in many Asian cuisines. They are cheap to buy and very versatile as they can be used to make tons of things.
So if you are ever wanting to learn how to cook some delicious Asian foods, then learning about these ingredients is definitely a must.
But there is just one problem.
If you were to actually go to any Asian supermarket, you’ll notice that there are hundreds if not thousands of different rice and flour types for you to choose from. How are you suppose to know what does what? How are you suppose to know which ones to buy?
That is where this page comes in handy.
Although we can’t list out every single rice and flour types out there as that would be impossible, what we can do is list out the most common and popular types that most families would use in their day to day lives.
We’ll try our best to tell you exactly what these rice and flour types do as well as what they are normally used for.
So if you are ready, lets get started!
Full disclosure: In this glossary page, some of the posts will contain affiliate links, which means that if you do buy something as a result from following one of our links, you will be supporting our site “Cooking Sensei”. Prices are the same regardless if you use our link or not, so there is no harm!
White rice is a milled rice that has had its husk, bran, and germ removed. This alters the flavor, texture and appearance of the rice and helps prevent spoilage and extend its storage life. After milling, the rice is polished, resulting in a seed with a bright, white, shiny appearance. White rice is usually the most common type of rice you’ll find in any Asian restaurant or households. It can be usually found in medium and long grain varieties. Usually you’ll find it served by itself to pair with other foods, or used in some stir fry or porridge type of dishes.
Short Grain Rice
Just like the name implies, this type of rice is usually of the short variety and is of an oval shape. When cooked, they tend to become a bit sticky and clump together which makes them perfect for making certain foods like sushi or even rice pudding.
Brown Rice is something that has been gaining popularity through recent years as many people choose it for its health benefits. Brown rice is a whole grain and a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6, and manganese, and is high in fiber. It usually needs a longer cooking time than white rice unless it has been broken or flour blasted. So if you are looking for something that provides quite a bit of health benefits, than this is the rice to use.
Chinese Black Rice
Black Rice is a range of rice types of the species “Oryza Sativa L”, some of which are glutinous rice. It is also known as “Forbidden Rice” back during Ancient China because only those belonging to the upper class could afford to eat this kind of rice. Nowadays there are many different varieties of black rice available for you to buy, but it is still pretty uncommon as it hasn’t made its way to become mainstream yet.
Sticky Rice or Glutinous Rice is a type of short grain rice that has opaque grains, very low amylose content, and is especially sticky when cooked. It is widely consumed across Asia. This rice is typically used in many savory dishes as well as many sweet dishes too.
Jasmine rice is a long-grain variety of fragrant rice (also known as aromatic rice). Its fragrance, reminiscent of pandan and popcorn, results from the rice plant’s natural production of aroma compounds. You can typically find this rice being made from Thailand. Once cooked, the rice tends to have a light sheen to them and the texture and flavor of the rice is out of this world.
Job’s Tear or Chinese Pearl Barley is a tall grain bearing perennial tropical plant that is native to southeast Asia. It is widely eaten as a cereal across Asian countries with some even putting it in their soups.
Rice Flour is a form of flour made from finely milled rice. It is distinct from rice starch, which is usually produced by steeping rice in lye. Rice flour is a common substitute for wheat flour. It is also used as a thickening agent in recipes that are refrigerated or frozen since it inhibits liquid separation. Do not confuse it with Glutinous Rice Flour as they are completely different.
Glutinous Rice Flour
Glutinous Rice Flour is a flour that is made from glutinous rice and is a common ingredient used in many desserts and dim sum dishes. It produces a flexible, resilient dough, which can take on the flavors of whatever other ingredients are added to it. Cooking usually consists of steaming or boiling, sometimes followed by pan-frying or deep-frying. Some of the things you can use this flour for is to make Nian Gao or even Tangyuan.
Wheat Starch is used mainly with the addition of rice or sweet rice flours to help make certain foods. For instance, some dumpling wrappers will use this ingredient to help make various different dumplings.
Tapioca Starch is a common ingredient used to make a wide variety of things. It is similar to corn starch where it can act as a thickening agent but the texture of it is pretty sticky and gooey. Which makes it a perfect ingredient to use to help make certain things like rice noodles or even dumpling skins. It is also the main ingredient to make tapioca pearls which is a common thing found in many dessert drinks.
Potato starch is a starch that is pretty similar to tapioca starch. It can commonly be substituted for one another as the change you see is pretty minimal.
Mung Bean Starch
Mung Bean Starch is another starch that is commonly used in many Asian cuisines. It is a finely ground, powdery white starch that is made from Mung Beans. In Asia, it is used to make Bean Thread Noodles (aka Cellophane Noodles, Glass Noodles), as well as Bean Starch Sheets. It can also be used to make certain breads and desserts.
corn starch is a common ingredient used for many Asian dishes as a thickening agent to make the substance a lot more thicker. This is how many of the sauces you find in Asian restaurants get their thickness. But aside from a thickening agent, some places even use it with meats to protect it slightly from the intense heat of the wok. This helps prevent overcooking and toughening of the outer layers of meat.