Rice, Grains and Flour in Chinese Cooking

Rice is the most important staple food in China. There are a small group of grains served as staple food in addition to the common medium to long white rice.

Chinese long white rice (籼米) is a group of medium to long rice, usually cooked as steamed rice. They usually are longer than 7cm with low stickiness. Typical Chinese fried rice usually is made with steamed long white rice.

Chinese short white rice(粳米) short Chinese style white rice has a short and oval shaped kernel. Compared with long white rice, short white rice has greater stickiness. After cooking, short white rice is softer.

Sticky rice(糯米): sticky rice is also known as sweet rice, glutinous rice and it is the most popular ingredients for lots of traditional Chinese holiday snacks, desserts. It is also the most important ingredients for Chinese rice wine.

eatschina.com| Long grain sticky rice


Millet (小米 traditional Chinese name:粟): Millet might be an unfamiliar to lots of readers outside China. It is mainly used for brewing wine and fermentations for vinegar. Sometimes millet is mixed with rice flour and used as a coating for steamed dishes. Another popular cooking way is to make millet porridge.

Colored rice (紫米,黄米,红米,黑米)– there are a small group of colored varieties in China including purple rice,brown rice, red rice and black rice.

Tapioca Pearls (西米) :Tapioca Pearl is commonly used in many Chinese sweet desserts, either cold or warm. But in recent years, Chinese people use tapioca pearl to make Zongzi, which helps to create a transplant appearance.

Plain Rice flour (米粉) also known as rice powder. Rice flour is made from finely milled white rice and usually is used to make rice noodles, pastries and sweets, popular in lots of Southeast Asia counties.

Sticky rice flour (糯米粉) sticky rice flour is made from sticky grain rice, either long and short grain. It will become firm and sticky when cooked due to the high proportion of waxy starch molecules. There is a large group of desserts calls sticky rice flour as the most important ingredients. Please do not be confused with normal rice flour as they perform totally different.

Buckwheat (荞麦) has been popular in Northern China. Buckwheat flour can be used to make steamed buns, pancakes or noodles just like plain flour. 

Corn flour (玉米粉 or 玉米面)  is directly milled from corn and usually is used for buns, breads and desserts. Do not be confused with cornstarch (玉米淀粉). You may never need to use it in simple Chinese dishes.

Corn starch (玉米淀粉) Compared with corn flour, cornstarch is commonly used as a thickening in Chinese style meat stir-fries or a basic ingredients for desserts.

Wheat Starch(小麦淀粉|澄粉)Wheat starch is widely used in dim sum desserts like the wrappers of shrimp dumplings as it helps to create a transparent texture.

Mung bean starch (绿豆淀粉)Mung bean starch is made from Mung bean and usually used to make jelly noodles. It can be used as coating for stir-fries too.

Potato starch (土豆淀粉): Potato starch is the most popular thickening agency in Chinese kitchen.

Tapioca Starch(木薯淀粉): Tapioca starch is the essential ingredient for Taiwanese taro balls but it can also work as a thickening agency.

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