Brown Rice Demystified

If you want to learn to make perfect white rice without a rice cooker, you’re in the wrong place.  We’ve been there and done that.  Today we’re all about brown rice.

If you were at the first Poor Seminarian’s cooking demo in September, you’ll remember the questions about how I make rice and also that I ignore all directions on packages.  I’ve never found an absorption method of cooking brown rice that I’m happy with.  It all turns out mushy.  If you like your rice mushy, I mean no offense.  I just like my rice to have a bit of chew to it.

The solution?  Boil it like pasta.  In a lot of water.  Like this:

This is great because there is no measuring involved.  If you want to end up with a certain amount of rice at the end, by all means go ahead and measure.  But the last bit of uncooked rice in the bag drives me nuts.  What is that —  3/8 cup?  4/5?  7/12?  How much water do I need?  Never fear.  Whatever the amount, just pour it into the boiling water and cook away.

Sometimes I rinse my rice, sometimes I don’t.  When I do, I pour it into a fine meshed colander (something with holes small enough to keep the rice from slipping out), and with water running over it, swish the rice around vigorously with your hand.  That’s my rice in a fine meshed colander:

I like to salt my boiling water to flavor the rice.  When we say “salted boiling water”, what exactly do we mean?  About 1 tablespoon per gallon (4 quarts).  I’m not afraid of salting my food because I control the amount of salt.  It’s the sodium in processed foods that makes me nervous.

You can also flavor the water with broth.  This time around I was making broccoli beef (recipe coming soon), and wanted a beefy flavor in the rice.  I found a couple of seasoning packets in my pantry leftover from some instant noodles.  So I added that to the boiling water instead of salt.  Don’t judge me.

So that’s the rice there, boiling away in beef-seasoned water.  See that patch of foam at the edge of the pot?  Grab a spoon and skim that off.  It’s impurities left behind on the rice even after rinsing it.

Boil the rice for 20-22 minutes, drain it in a fine meshed colander, then return the rice to the pot, cover it with a lid, and let it steam for 10 minutes.  If you like your rice softer, try boiling it for another 2 or 3 minutes.  I have found this to work with any style of brown rice.

After it has steamed, fluff it with a fork.  I feel very strongly about this.  Never mind that spoon stuck in there.  **Jedi hand wave**  These are not the droids you’re looking for.

To reheat brown rice, or white rice for that matter, add a couple of tablespoons of water to the rice, cover it, and microwave for 1-2 minutes per serving, depending on your microwave and amount of rice.  I like to reheat food in a glass dish with a glass lid.  A bowl covered with a plate works well. 

If you make a lot of extra rice, you can freeze it in smaller bags for later, or make fried rice with it.  Hmm… anyone know where I can find a good fried rice recipe?

Try making some brown rice over fall break.  You’ll thank me for it.


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