Bomba Rice
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Bomba Rice, also known as Bomba Rice de Calasparra, is an older strain of Rice with a Protected Geographical Indication that is grown in Spain, principally outside the town of Calasparra in Murcia but also around Valencia.
 
Bomba Rice has a pearly core and a decent ratio of Amylose Starch to Amylopectin Starch. Put another way, it has some “sticky starch” and a good bit of “starchy starch” which makes it highly absorbent. Because it also has a hard shell it won’t break easily and can absorb three times its own volume in added liquid without becoming mushy. The Bomba Rice grains will still remain separate and distinct. (Three times its own volume is 1.5 times greater than the absorption capacity of the typical White Long Grain Rice.) The other unique quality of Bomba Rice is that it swells in width like an accordion, not length like most Rice.
 
Spanish Chefs consider Bomba Rice the best of the best for making Paella, making it the most rare and costly of the three main Spanish Rice types. Calasparra Rice & Valencia Rice are the other two well-known types of Spanish Rice.
Season

Bomba Rice is seeded in the spring and harvested in the fall, making it technically a Fall Seasonal Crop. Bomba Rice, like all Rice, is dried and may be milled before use, making it a processed product where seasonal freshness is less critical. 

Cultivation

The Bomba Rice strain has a long growing cycle because of the cold water and its hard shell. It also has a long stalk that can be laid waste by bad weather. Bomba Rice is not an efficient Rice strain to grow, about half as productive as other types, but it is a valuable crop sought after by Spanish chefs.

Production

The bulk of the Bomba Rice in the world is grown near the town of Calasparra in Murcia but it is also grown in and around Valencia and in the Delta of the River Ebro in Tarragona-Catalonia.

Bomba Rice is an inefficient, labor-intensive heirloom Rice variant that is nourished by cold, mountain waters that retard its growth cycle. Bomba is so inefficient that the strain was almost lost during the 1960s; if not for some Spanish Chefs, enamored of the Bomba Rice’s unique culinary qualities, Bomba Rice would have most likely been forgotten.

Today is it making a comeback and is produced using an interesting mix of old and new techniques and equipment. Bomba Rice is grown differently in each region but the method is broadly similar in each.

The Rice paddies are plowed in early spring and then the fields are flooded. Early May, local men walk shoulder to shoulder and sow the moistened Bomba Rice Seeds by hand into laser-leveled fields. When the young shoots appear in two to three weeks, they are thinned. For the rest of the summer the farmers weed the field by hand in ankle-deep water.

The Rice grows over the summer, until the fields are drained in the fall and the Bomba Rice harvested. In Calasparra, water is routed by 18th century irrigation: in the Ebro Delta, Roman aqueducts, maintained by the Moors, transfer water overseen by modern hydrology experts. Bomba Rice is also essentially Organic because it’s farmed without the use of pesticides and herbicides, and no chemicals fertilizers are used. Instead of fertilizing, a 2 year cycle of crop rotation is employed.

Once harvested, the Bomba Rice is sun-dried from 25% moisture to 14%-15% moisture. The dried Bomba Rice is then milled to remove the Chaff and the Rice Bran. Most, if not all, Bomba Rice is sold as White Rice.

Varieties

Bomba Rice is most famously sought after for making Paella but it can also be used for Risotto, Spanish Rice, Arroz a Banda, or even for table Rice.

Purchasing

Bomba Rice is the rarest of the Spanish Rice types (Calasparra Rice and Valencia Rice are the other two).

Bomba Rice is a specialty Rice only sold as a White Rice. Bomba Rice is generally available in prepackaged containers or bags.

When purchasing Rice, always check the expiration date as Rice can go bad if stored too long.

While you are selecting your Rice (in bulk or in packages), keep an eye out for any signs of moisture which can ruin Rice. Also, try and buy as few broken grains of Rice as possible. Your final dish will likely be a mess of overdone and underdone Rice if you cook with broken grains and whole grains: broken grains are smaller than whole grains and the two sizes won’t cook together uniformly.

Bomba Rice is available at specialty Spanish markets like Berkeley, California's Spanish Table, specialty kitchen boutiques like Sur la Table, and some grocery stores. You can also Purchase Bomba Rice on Amazon (the link goes to Amazon).

Storage

White Bomba Rice is a dried Grain and an unopened container of White Bomba Rice will keep for a year, perhaps longer, in a pantry at room temperature, in the refrigerator, or frozen.

Once opened, the only real risks to the shelf life are moisture and pests, including bugs and rats. Keeping the container sealed and airtight can protect against both of these.

Let cooked Bomba Rice cool to room temperature before storing it in the refrigerator. Cooked Bomba Rice will last about 3-5 days in the refrigerator but it is best to use it within 2 days.

Culinary Uses

Bomba Rice is known for its absorbent properties and for being able to hold up to 3 times its own volume in liquid. This means that Bomba Rice will require 3 cups of liquid for each cup of Rice. In fact, because it is so absorbent, it is hard to overcook Bomba Rice.

Bomba Rice is stickier than White Long Grain Rice but is fairly starchy for a Medium Grain Rice. For use as a table Rice, cook Bomba Rice with the Cooking Sticky Rice Method.

Cook to the desired outcome if making a Risotto or Paella.

As for cooking times for Bomba Rice, the times will vary depending on the technique being employed and the desired result. It is always best to follow the directions on the package, if any, until you are familiar with product.

If the Bomba Rice is still crunchy at the end of the cook time, the Rice is undercooked and you may need to add 1-2 T of liquid and cook it a bit longer. If it’s falling apart then it is overcooked and you should start over. Remember, you can fix undercooking, but you can’t fix overcooking. Start checking the Rice early.

Nutritional Value

Servings: ¼ cup (57 g)

Calories 150        

Sodium 0 mg

Total Fat 1 g       

Potassium 0 mg

Saturated 0 g    

Total Carbs 33 g

Polyunsaturated 0 g       

Dietary Fiber 3 g

Monounsaturated 0 g   

Sugars 0 g

Trans 0 g             

Protein 3 g

Cholesterol 0 mg                              

Vitamin A 0%    

Calcium 0%

Vitamin C 0%     

Iron 0%

Gluten Free

Yes

Low Fat

Yes

Low Calorie

Yes