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Jan 27, 2007 05:12 PM

Korean 'multigrain' / 'brown' rice - what is it?

At Korean restaurants, I always ask for non-white rice, and what's brought out is a warm bowl of tender, nutty, blackish-purple grains of joy. For those in NYC: On the menu of Hangawi, it's called "multigrain" rice. Waiters at Kang Suh bring it out when I ask for "brown" rice.

Does anyone know what type of rice I'm talking about? (And can it be made in a rice cooker?)


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  1. my mom used to make rice with red beans when she'd get into one of those healthy moods. it looks kind of purple, but you probably would have noticed the beans. at any rate, we have a pressure rice cooker that makes perfect red bean rice as well as brown rice in about 30 minutes.

    1 Reply
    1. re: soypower

      Yeah, it did have beans in it (either chickpeas or beans, depending on the place).

      So it's called "red bean rice"? (I went into a Korean grocery store to buy some and confused all parties inside trying to describe/buy it)

    2. Here's a helpful explanation of this dish from Life in Korea. If you follow the link and scroll down you'll see a photo that will help you determine if you've been having ogokbap.

      Ogokbap (Five-Grain Rice)
      Although rice is the staple food for Koreans, they also use other grains. They often combine four other grains with glutinous and regular rice (most commonly glutinous sorghum, glutinous millet, dried black beans, and dried sweet beans). Each are cleaned and soaked separately then cooked until the grains have expanded and are well done. The various grains used differ between areas. Koreans tended to use those grains that they planned to plant in the coming year. In the past, Ogokpap was also a substitute of Yakshik for commoners who could not afford to have the ingredients like jujubes, chestnuts, and pine nuts for Yakshik on the first full moon day. Koreans also believe that Ogokpap must be shared by at least 3 different families to bring good luck in the coming year.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Kater

        nice explanation. in Japan there are several similar dishes - just mixes of different grains. usually it would begin with their default rice (unfortunately usually of the refined, white variety), then a mix of maybe black soy beans and various grains including millet, bulghur, black rice, etc.
        in any event, the break from runofthemill white rice was always a welcomed addition. one thing to note, tho: since many of these alternative grains do not contain the 'sticky' element of sticky rice, the dish ended being more of an almost western feeling dish like longgrain rices, yknow. deelish any way you cut it, tho:)

      2. Could it be Chinese "forbidden rice?' This cooks up fairly uniform in appearance, blackish purplish and tasting like brown rice, maybe nuttier. I've also seen medium grain rice from southeast Asia that's a lighter, more mottled purple than forbidden rice. I like forbidden rice with chicken dishes, where the contrasting color is beautiful on the plate.

          1. re: soypower

            in those recipes, i think it might be helpful to point out that the "black" beans are usually black soy beans, and i think the "green" beans are mung beans, although recipes do differ quite a bit. also the "red" beans are those tiny beans, usually known in english by their japanese names as "azuki" or "adzuki," which are often used in desserts and sweets in asia.

            my korean is horrid, but if you were looking for these in a korean market, the korean for soy bean is "kong," with the o rhyming with "bone." but i couldn't help you with the black variety. mung beans are "sookjoo," and red beans are "pat." but less pat, more like "ought." native speakers out there, mian hamnida.

          2. since the different grains, and especially the beans, have different cooking times, this dish can be kind of tricky to make. when i was in korea, my mom would buy bags of different fresh beans, not dried, from the market, and they would cook up nicely with the rice. this dish is even more delicious when cooked in a tradtional stone pot, so the cooked rice gets toasted along the bottom of the pot. if you throw in a couple dried chinese dates and a ginseng root, then you don't really need anything else to eat with it.

            you can also buy it pre-made in microwaveable single portions in korean markets. two minutes on high in the nuker or ten minutes in boiling water. it's called ogokbap, or five-grain rice.

            but without the beans and other grains, if you buy black rice (described by another poster above as "forbidden" rice) and sprinkle a loose handful into your white rice, it will stain it a pale shade of purple, and give your rice an added dimension of flavor.