Two Varieties of Red Rice

Dozens and dozens of varieties of rice have just been red1harvested across the archipelago and many interesting ones are now hitting the markets. Isn’t it strange how indifferent most Filipinos are to the type of rice they eat? Considering that we probably easily consume 1,200+ cups of cooked rice per capita per annum, we are generally not too picky about the rice or its origins. Very few will be able to tell you they prefer Dinorado, Sinandomeng, Milagrosa or R-64 as some of the rice varieties are named. We worry more about if we brush our teeth with Close-Up vs. Colgate or drink Sarsi vs. Pepsi. I vehemently insist on a Diet Coke (Coke Light in Asia) at a restaurant and nearly gag at the thought of another brand. Many restaurants offer 12 kinds of softdrinks or juices alone but you never hear them ask if you would prefer a fragrant Milagrosa, a long-grain Thai Jasmine or an earthy and totally nutritious Bohol Red rice. Why? I don’t know. They should. Maybe I am on to something, listen up chefs and restaurant owners, offer different types of rice, will you?

At the market recently, I was intrigued by two sacks of rice sitting side by side. red2The sack with the darker red rice was recently harvested up in Bontoc, Mt. Province and at PHP50 a kilo it was more than double your everyday staple white rice… but it looked so good, I had to buy some and try it. If you had to manouever the rice terraces barefoot in fog with a 50 kg sack of red rice on your head you would charge more as well… Next to it was another sack of red rice but notably lighter in color, almost rose pink. This sack was organic red rice from the beautiful inland rice fields of Bohol. At PHP 40 a kilo, it was less than the Bontoc rice but still pricey. My mom’s family used to have rice fields in Bohol and we would get a shipment of red rice once a year and frankly, I hated it as a kid. But today, I really do see what the attraction is. The Bohol red rice is “meaty” or has volume… I find it goes superbly with heavily sauced dishes with strong flavors such as a good adobo. Besides being healthy, adding variety to our food intake and the terrific texture and flavor, what other reason do you need to start trying the dozens of different varieties of rice the Philippines has to offer? Do it now as these varieties only last a few weeks after the harvest!


32 Responses

  1. The former secretary of tourism (under FVR) set up a restaurant in Pasay City that highlights the different rice variants. Haven’t tried it; if anyone’s tried it, I’d like to know where it is.

  2. Most Filipinos can’t afford any other rice variety aside from NFA rice, if at all. Many of those who have the means to buy relatively good varieties are thankful enough that they can while some are fascinated with other food products and may even look down on rice.

    I buy ‘brown rice’ from Nueva Ecija Rice Center along Katipunan and it looks a bit like the Bontoc red rice. It’s cheap too, around PhP26/kg. but I’m not sure if it’s organic.

  3. I agree most are eating at a subsistence level. But for anyone who frequents a Happywasp or other such fastfood joint, they could eat better at home and cheaper too if they cooked wisely. For everyone who does have the means, please try the best and more intriguing varieties of rice the country has to offer!

  4. I normally just delete comments that I cannot understand. And it isn’t the language that it is written in. In fact, a Filipino teacher would cringe at your comments. However, in an attempt to decipher it, I am assuming that you mean I have put a photograph of rice with it’s husk still on and you correctly suggest that the husk is not eaten, with an emphatic comment that I must be stupid to do so… Well, let me explain. These are two varieties of red rice and the reason for that is because their grains are in fact RED or ROSE PINK in color. Just because the grains are not white doesn’t mean it still has it’s husk on. Anyone who has seen palay knows that the husk is not red but more of a golden brown…hence the line in Sting’s famous song “Fields of Gold” that refers to rice in Bali that is ready to harvest and looks like fields of gold. And just in case you wanted to know, rice also comes in purple, black and many other hues besides white. Even after you cook it, it remains, red, pink, brown, black or purple, too. If ignorance is bliss, partial knowledge must be truly rough on the synapses. I leave your comment on for a while longer as a perfect example of how I hope my descendants and millions of Filipino school age children will NOT write when they grow up, surf the internet and leave comments.

  5. Maybe we don’t bother much about the rice we eat because it’s already commodified (pardon the word). We really don’t “revere” rice as our Southeast Asian neigbors do. It’s just food for us, but it has great cultural significance for others. I remember an incident I witnessed once when an Indian national minutely examined every type of rice available in a grocery store. It took him about 30 minutes to choose what rice to buy, and imagine the face of the store owner when the Indian wanted to buy only a half kilo of rice! All that analysis for half a kilo. :-)

  6. I have to agree with Reneli. It seems like we do not have much of an appreciation for our food because it all lies on taste. We do not really go deep, such as know the culture behind it. And what has been ritualised by our indigenous communities, the mainstream has a tendency to trivialise and treat as ‘outmoded’. I was discussing this with one of my friends and she exclaimed, no wonder we don’t treat our food as world class.

  7. Marketman, you are really so popular that even those who
    doesnt appreciate food blogs and doesnt know how to
    appreciate photos are sending their comments and also those who doesn’t know to use the proper words. God bless to you
    Marketman and more power!

  8. Another great thing about the different varieties of rice-is that brown and red are so much healthier for you than white. I guess the analogy is somewhat similar to the nutritional value of processed white bread in the supermarket compared to homemade multi-grain breads. Dr. Weil and other leading nutritionists are great proponents of brown rice in the US. Considering the rising rates of diabetes and other health issues which are exacerbated by over indulgence in over processed carbs that are lacking in nutrition, brown rice is certainly more appealing. PS-love the term happywasp.

  9. I’m not sure what Reneli means by “revere”, but it may be that we’ve lost some of this reverence for rice through the years (lalo na tayong mostly city-kids). Just two generations ago (or at least my mother tells me) rice was held in such high regard that to throw even one grain away would have been considered almost sacrilegious. Something about how rice is the cornerstone of who we are both as Filipinos and as children of God.

  10. hi mila, the restaurant you mentioned is called the Garden Room (or the Garden House? not quite sure) but its along Roxas Blvd cor Sta Escolastica road. it was set up by ms
    mina gabor. sorry haven’t tried it so can’t review. for those who are interested in Kalinga rice (like the Mt Province rice pictured in this article, a friend of mine, Greg Doris carries it at the Saturday Salcedo Market, he can also be contacted through phone #563.1896

  11. My dad once planted purple rice in our field (Ilocos Norte), mainly, for family/home consumption. Ofcourse, I was delighted since purple rice is not so common in the tables of Filipinos with an average income.

  12. Stoix, its actually amazing how many hundreds of varieties of rice there are and we stick to just a couple in our daily meals! Shame, really.

  13. the nueva ecija rice center is where exactly in katips? brown rice is also rich in fiber right?

    where is the saturday salcedo market?

    is purple rice also good for a meal or only suman?

    thanks for the answers in advance!

  14. which market did you find these rice, mr. marketman? and how does one get there?

    where are your favorite market places?

  15. Issa, any large market in Metro Manila should have a decent rice vendor where you can get a selection of different types of rice…go to Farmers Market Cubao, Market Market Mall in Fort Bonifacio, FTI taguig…if you go to any large market you should be fine… I have a post on Salcedo Market in my archives, you can look it up for location details.

  16. thanks! i was able to visit tiendesitas but they were out of the more interesting i just got some brown rice. the guy said it is good for diabetes…i dont really know. but i just want to try it. what do you think?

  17. Brown rice has more fiber and is digested slower…I don’t know if it does help those with diabetes…it is good however, and you tend to eat less of it as it feels bulkier in your stomach…

  18. Whats the difference between brown rice and red rice here in philippines? whats its distinguishing factors?

  19. Jesse…
    Brown rice is unpolished white rice.
    Unpolished means only the husk was removed.
    Further processing of the brown rice removes nutrients
    (wherein the rice bran containing 70% of the nutrients
    is then fed to farm animals, with 30% of the nutrients
    are all that is left in the rice grains itself).

    As for red rice, these are originally grown
    in all of the mountainous regions throughout
    our archipelago. These are planted on soil
    and harvested but once-a-year.
    But businessmen have interfered.
    Red rice is now grown in the lowlands,
    in paddy fields, and harvested three times a year.

    This interference with its natural course
    makes for lighter colors, and bland tastes.
    With humanity’s penchant for interfering,
    coloring agents, aroma compounds, artificial flavorings
    (that are standard procedures in enhancing white rices)
    are now utilized for many pseudo-organic red rices
    found in supermarkets and sold at low prices.

    By the way, I am an organic rice farmer from Bicol.

  20. I really should try out this brown rice soon, I’ve been meaning to, every time I’d pass by the aisle in the supermarket..

  21. hey!just wanna ask if somebody knows where can i find japanese rice name NIKISHI..just email me..


  22. sir, my research on nutrition value of red rice i want some suggestions…

  23. Im from Arakan, North Cotabato, the home of the exotic dinorado rice, we have thousand of hectares devoted to organic dinorado rice production, just email us at:

  24. i’ve been buying nikishi rice from marukai…a japanese supermarket with locations in gardena and san diego…

  25. Hi Marketman!

    Do you know that Nutri Box in alabang town center serves a good variety of red rice? check it out! it’s just P25.00 per serving, sarap talaga. I talked to their their crew and i was told that the owner really has a commitmet to his vision of providing delicious, healthy & affordable fast food meals to Filipinos, they hopefully are starting a trend to make healthy living easier, check it out, they even hve vegetable pasta dishes… i tried it coz they were featured on, i was intrigued at the review-it indicated that Nutri Box serve healthy but affordable meals. try it! i think biz like this deserves all the support!

  26. Hi Marketman! Just wanted to know if you’re also familiar with bigas mais or corn rice? Been trying it out and was wondering if you know about its nutritional facts..Heard from friends that it’s a low glycemic index food and therefore good for people with diabetes. Thanks for your comments!

  27. dear sir\madam :
    i would like toimport red rice to kuwait , if you are interesting to deal with me pleas send me an email . thank u .

  28. Is milagrosa rice the same as jasmine rice? If you look up jasmine rice on Wikipedia you will see someone created an entry saying it is a Thai rice discovered by a Thai. If you look up other sites you will see that milagrosa and jasmine are being used interchangeably. If were in North America in the 1980s and noticed all the sacks of rice from imported from Thailand you would have seen they all sported the term “milagrosa” on them. Nowadays you see the Thais getting rid of the “milagrosa” label. Did they suddenly switch to a new breed? Or are they rewriting history?



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