Surely you have eaten white rice countless times. Perhaps you have not imagined what other things are worth knowing about this common food, besides the fact that it goes very well as a side dish and it can also stand as a main course. If you want to know a little more, please read on. 

What is the essential difference between white rice and brown rice?

Brown rice is the one from which only its husk—which is not edible—is removed, and its germ and bran are left. Bran gives rice grains a brownish or tawny color, and together with germ, provides fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals important for a healthy diet.

If husk, germ, and bran are removed, refined or white rice is obtained. It is called white rice because of the whitish color of grains. However, after the removal of its husk, germ, and bran, white rice loses part of the fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals that brown rice contains.

Is white rice less nutritious and less tasty than brown rice?

So, without germ and bran, is white rice less nutritious than brown rice? Certainly, it was true until a few decades ago, but nowadays, almost all packaged rice is enriched in processing plants with vitamins and minerals essential for human consumption, such as the excellent white rice you will find at

But with or without those nutrients, which is tastier, brown rice or white rice? Actually, this is a matter of taste and of opinions conditioned by cultural frameworks. Traditionally, brown rice was considered foodstuff for people of limited means, whereas people of higher social and economic status only ate it in times of war or severe food shortages. However, in the Western hemisphere, since the second half of the 20th century, with the revaluation of healthier lifestyles, brown rice has begun to gain followers and defenders.

In any case, there is no doubt that white rice continues to be much more widely consumed throughout the world. Not only does it require less cooking time —it does not need to be soaked to soften beforehand—, but also, due to its milder flavor, it can be mixed more easily with other foods, and can absorb the flavor of these in the mixture. In this way, we can prepare countless different and delicious dishes.

Is white rice better as a side dish or as a main dish?

White rice is, together with salads, the most commonly used side dish for lunch meals. Of course, the most frequent dishes it serves as an accompaniment are of animal origin—beef, pork, poultry and fish, prepared in any way. White rice is also usually seen and eaten as a side dish to vegetarian dishes, such as legumes —beans, lentils…—, vegetables —eggplants, zucchini…—, or tubers and roots —potatoes, carrots…

However, cooked with meat chunks, or with chopped vegetables, white rice can easily become a delicious main dish. Perhaps the most popular main white rice dish in both hemispheres is Chinese-style fried rice, mainly prepared with pink shrimp and chicken nuggets.

Even if you have few resources, some egg —hard-boiled, scrambled or as an omelet—, a few bits of bacon or sausage, a can of corn or some grated cheese can make a humble white rice dish a great meal.

Should white rice be washed before cooking?

In principle, if white rice has been hygienically packed in a processing plant that meets all sanitary standards, it is not necessary to wash it.

However, many recipes indicate that raw rice should be washed prior to cooking. This is good advice if you do not like the grains to form lumps. In fact, if you wash rice, you will remove excess starch, which with hot water becomes a sort of glue that binds the grains together.

Another reason why many people wash rice is that, they say, doing it helps remove arsenic, which rice grown in flooded fields tend to absorb. Actually, the amount of arsenic that can be removed by simply washing rice with running water and a strainer is very little. There are other, more effective procedures to do this, although they require more time and sometimes more money.

However, do not worry. Almost all high-quality packaged white rice is arsenic-free.