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Jun 7, 2007 02:27 PM

Weird rice

I picked up some short-grain brown rice recently from the bulk bin of the supermarket in the next town south of us. We're on a bit of a whole-grain kick, and this stuff looked sort of like the rice I use to make risotto, only brown; so I thought it might be nice to see if I could make a whole-grain risotto. Since it was in the bulk bin there wasn't any information about what it was or suggestions how to prepare it, but it looks like the right kind of rice, so I thought surely, with the appropriate adjustment of cooking time, it'd make reasonably acceptable risotto.

It failed--miserably. After two hours of cooking, stirring, adding broth, all the normal stuff you do for risotto--and which I've done enough times to know what I'm doing--it was still crunchy. Obviously it isn't going to work for that! But my question is, what DO I do with this stuff?

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  1. It's not weird, just not what you expected it to be. The short plump brown rices, are meant to be toothsome.

    What they do work great for are summer salads! They never get mushy and can handle various forms of dressing.

    But Sam will be able to tell you exactly what the and give you great ideas too. He's the Man on this subject!

    1. Yup, brown rice is definitely wrong for risotto. It is meant to be crunchy. It is healthier that white rice, it has a better glycemic index and is likely better for fibre. I make it instead of white rice, and find it makes a nice accompaniment for grilled or baked salmon and other fish because of its nice crunchy nutty flavour. If it is too crunchy for your tastes, mix it in and dilute it with plain white short grain rice, it adds a nice accent.

      7 Replies
      1. re: moh

        I thought it would be the best of both worlds, since I like brown rice and I like risotto. But it's obviously not risotto rice. Do I need to expect it to take two hours to cook if I cook it like regular rice, instead of trying to make risotto out of it? Ordinary long-grain brown rice generally takes about half that long.

        1. re: revsharkie

          I'd say if you cook it like normal, it will be like ordinary brown rice. You can reduce cooking time by soaking it first, especially with a little bit of lemon juice or buttermilk in the water.

          1. re: JGrey

            I use brown rice for stir fried rice. You can make it healthier by adding more veggies and less oil and soy sauce.

          2. re: revsharkie

            Short grain brown rice can be cooked liked long grain brown rice, but the result will be thicker and stickier. I realize that you are trying to be healtier, but brown rice of any sort is a royal pain to cook properly, and I try to avoid it as much as possible.

            1. re: jerry i h

              We mostly use Calrose (medium grain I think) rice in Hawaii, brown or white. Most everyone I know just throws brown rice in the rice cooker exactly as they would white rice. Maybe a bit more water, maybe let it sit a bit longer after the cooker turns off, but other than that, no difference in preparation. A lot of people mix the brown and white and cook them together.

              1. re: KaimukiMan

                We in the lot of people group, We use a rice cooker, sometimes it's plain white calrose. Other times its 30% brown & 70% white. In our opinion it gives it a nice nutty flavor.

            2. re: revsharkie

              We cook the short grain brown ricce in our rice cooker but use 2 cups of water per cup of rice, you need more liquid. I believe this is similar to a regular pot method, but you should double check cooking time and water proportion to be safe with another source.

          3. Brown rice makes very good rice pudding, especially if you use brown sugar. The caramelly complexity has made me a convert from white rice for rice pudding. Fine Cooking did a GREAT version a few years ago with a phenomenal roasted nut topping. I can't recommend this strongly enough, but NOTE that this is very rich. Next time I make this, I will use lower fat dairy products, probably half-n-half instead of heavy cream or even mostly whole milk, to tone down the richness. The nuts are also great in salads. Here is the link:


            I tried to make brown rice risotto a few years ago. It ended up more like very wet pilaf, with broccoli, lemon, and parmesan. If you try again, cook the rice in a lot more broth and for longer, giving up the constant stirring for more cooking covered with occasional stirring. It is not risotto, but still delicious and rib-sticking.

            1. KaimukiMan suggests an interesting point. White and brown CalRose are probably different only cosmetically, the latter not being polished completely--and would cook quite similarly.

              A real brown rice with no milling after de-husking, however, would need a lot of cooking (and more cooking fuel). Rice cooked in an open pan while being stirred (a la risotto) is probably the worst way to get any brown rice soft.

              1. Brown rice cooks much faster in a pressure cooker; it will be a lot less fluffy. Try mixing in some amaranth or brown basmati rice; about a 4/1 ratio.

                Essentially use about a two to one ration for smaller amounts. Bring up to pressure and cook for about 25-30 minutes. Turn off the heat and it let it come down on the stove; the residual heat and pressure should do the rest. For larger amounts use the "Mt. Fuji" method of measuring -- water above the rice on the top of your flat hand covering the biggest knuckle.

                To get a fluffier texture and nuttier flavor toast the rice first and add while hot to boiling water, pressure cooking only about 20 minutes. (It will boil up when you add the hot rice, so leave plenty of room.) Experiment with water, salt, and timing for your cooker.