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Better Brown Rice

Posted May 21 2010 10:00am

Anonymous asked: I recently bought & cooked organic short grain brown rice & it turned out ok, but the flavour wasn’t very good. It was kind of chewy. I usually cook short grain white rice in a rice cooker (the brown rice won’t cook in the rice cooker) & I’m not very good at stove top rice cooking. Do you have any tips on how to make a tasty pot of brown rice? I’d really like to replace the white rice for most of my meals. Thanks!

I actually got a very similar question during my #nutriQ chat! It seems like people who are used to eating white rice just don’t like the flavor or texture of brown nearly as much.

First, what is brown rice? Brown rice is just white rice that has not had the brown-colored bran removed — It’s a more “whole” grain. Since it has this hard shell, it takes longer to cook and isn’t as fluffy. It will always be chewier and a bit nuttier than its white counterpart. Here are some alternate cooking methods that might help with the texture:

  • Cook it in a full pot of water (like pasta) and drain it after 35-40 minutes (or whenever it’s done!), just like you would with pasta.
  • Short the recommended amount of water by a couple tablespoons, and cook it for a full hour with 10 minutes of resting time afterward.
  • Put the 2:1 ratio of rice to water in a roasting pan with no cover at 375 for 50-60 minutes.
  • Try this baked brown rice recipe from Alton Brown.

So why choose brown rice in the first place? Well, it’s technically less processed than white to start, and it has slightly more fiber and nutrients like magnesium and zinc (nutrients that are often added back in to white rice).

To make your rice (white or brown) really sing, add butter or olive oil to the cooking water. Add a pinch of salt when the rice is nearly finished cooking. I also like making what I call Chipotle rice — adding cilantro, lime, and a bit of spice to the pot. I’ve found that brown basmati rice tends to be better than regular brown rice.

To me, rice in general isn’t a significant source of fiber or nutrients. So if you really HATE brown rice, there’s not a great reason to make the switch from white. But if you’re committed to choosing whole, unprocessed grains, brown is the way to go.

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