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Rice -- a compromise b/t white and brown, parboiled recs?

So after a year of forcing myself to eat brown rice, I've come to flat out hate it and decided that it isn't worth it for the negligible (to me) nutritional difference. There is nothing redeeming about it, and there are a myriad of other tasty options to get a chew. At the same time, like everyone else, I'm trying to get away from having white rice all the time.

I understand that parboiled rice at least has some nutrients, and was wondering whether there were different grades, methods of cooking (aside from what's on the bag), or brands that CHers could educate me on. (I'm only familiar with Korean, basmati, and jasmine rice.) Google only sends back Uncle Ben's website...

I think I've had it before in restaurants and liked it, but am not sure (not as fluffy, more al dente, distinct grains, off-white color?). Please excuse my glaring ignorance. And thank you for any input!

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  1. What nutrients do you hope to get from rice that you are not getting from other foods in your diet?

    1 Reply
    1. re: paulj

      It really isn't a matter of getting specific nutrients, it's a mental thing where I figure I'm eating it anyway so may as well get something out of it vs. the nothing of white.

    2. I just have to jump in here. I really dislike, really REALLY dislike parboiled rice (is it the same as "converted" rice?). To me, it has been processed out of its natural state and no longer tastes like rice anymore. The reason it may have some nutrients in it is because the processor has already boiled the natural ones out and adds them back in, just like they do with manufactured breakfast cereals. They spray them on in the factory.

      White rice still has starches your body can use. Four billion people eat it daily. It can't be all that bad, can it?

      (Disclaimer: Yes, I'm of Asian descent)

      2 Replies
      1. re: k_d

        I know, I keep telling myself that if it was good enough for hundreds of years for my ancestors, I'll surely be okay. But there's always that guilt.

        1. re: k_d

          This is nonsense. Parboiled rice is only steam threshed rice, and retains the bran. Long grain white rice is the more processed one, not parboiled - which is NOT "cooked" in any way. I love parboiled rice not because it is easier to cook (about the same I find) but because it has superior texture and flavor to mechanically threshed rice. The post above - by k_d, is utter nonsense. It is true that parboiled rice is completely wrong for Asian food and will not get sticky. On the other hand, Asian is the only cusine in the world that wants its rice "sticky"

        2. I have seen some interesting mixed grain bags in Korean markets. They still have white rice, but add other grains for "nuttiness" and nutrition. Sometimes also in Japanese markets. I hear they are tasty.

          1. When I want a change from plain white rice I simply mix some brown and black with the white. Sometimes I will soak dried peas with the white rice or toss in a handful of dried barley or buckwheat.

            If you do the mixed rice, soak the black rice (separate from the brown/white) for about an hour or so, then rinse until water runs clear. This will lessen the "purple effect".

            1. I think it's all about moderation. (Disclaimer: I'm Asian) I mean, my cousins and extended family eat only white rice (and white bread), and they are rod thin. Though granted, it's less about weight and more about nutrition.

              I actually like brown rice, but if you really don't like it, I don't think there's anything bad with just saying "forget it". I mean, we only live once, so why force yourself to eat stuff you don't like, especially if you gave it an honest try? Especially if you hate it.

              But having said that, I'm curious what kind of brown rice you are eating? B/c the brown rice that I've had at almost any restaurant is just plain horrible. If that were my only exposure to brown rice (very dry, separated grains that don't stick), I would hate it too.

              I'm assuming you are not near a Japanese grocery store, but my Japanese grocery store sells "almost" brown rice, which I like, because it has some of the nutrients of brown rice, and is sticky and fluffy like white rice! So much so that I can use it for sushi. There are different levels-- 90 percent means 90 percent polished, so this is the closest to the (100 percent polished) white rice stuff. Then there is 70 percent, 50 percent, 30 percent, and pure brown rice. I think I have the 30 percent and mix it with pure brown rice. That's when I want plain "unadulterated" (unseasoned) rice.

              But a lot of the time, particularly with basmati rice, I want to add spices, lentils, cook it w/ onions, etc. So when I add those things, the brown tastes heartier, but I don't think you can tell much of a difference.

              I have no idea what parboiled rice is. Is that the pre-boiled stuff that is vacuum-sealed?

              Seriously, though-- I forgot how the backlash against white rice started, but if you don't like it, there are far more unhealthy things one can eat than white rice.

              1. I'm also Japanese American. I mix white and brown rice at a ration of about 1 to 0.5 and cook it in the rice cooker. That way, I get the nutrition from the brown rice (however minute), and it's still sticky and satisfying. I highly recommend it.

                1. I detested brown rice as a kid. So my parents used to do a 50-50 mix. Oh, it was such a treat to eat pure plain white rice on certain occasions. My sister and I would sigh happily as we ate our fluffy white rice. They made the 50-50 mix in a pressure cooker which worked well. Not sure how well you can cook the mix over a stove. I failed miserably when I was making chicken rice last week. In order for me to cook the brown rice thoroughly, the white rice got gummy.

                  Now that I'm older I actually like the taste of brown rice. My preference is for the brown basmati and brown jasmine. Their aromatic quality kind of compensates for the texture.

                  And I really don't like parboiled rice -- doesn't taste right to me.

                  1. Tried brown basmati? Don't give up on brown rice until you have. I find it cooks faster and so has a lighter, less goopy texture than most brown rices, and the fragrance is mouth-watering. It's fine enough that I often use it in fancy dishes.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: carswell

                      I love brown basmati - I cook it the same way I do white rice, using the water/rice ratio on the container, boil until the water level has reduced such as that small holes appear on the surface of the rice, cover, turn the flame down as low as possible, and in 15 minutes or so, it's ready.

                    2. uncle ben's brown rice in the plastic bag. our everyday rice. slightly nutty, doesn't malform, dependable, not heavy, cooks in 20 minutes. for some reason, it is not on the website. we get ours at harris teeter here in arlington, va.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: alkapal

                        Uncle ben's is the only brown rice my husband will eat. He really likes the golden parboiled rice Goya distributes. I like both as they cook beautifully and don't need butter to maintain the nutty texture.

                      2. i do 3 cups of brown rice, 2 cups of hulled barley and 1 cup of sweet rice...i can't even remember what white rice tasted like, but i know i feel much more full after eating this mix, and therefore, eat less overall.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: soypower

                          the kashi 7 whole grain pilaf is wonderful. chewy, nutty, satisfying and hearty. good hot or as a salad grain mix.

                          ingredients: Kashi(R) Seven Whole Grains & SesameTM (Whole Oats, Whole Long Grain Brown Rice, Whole Rye, Whole Hard Red Winter Wheat, Whole Triticale, Whole Barley, Whole Buckwheat, Whole Sesame Seeds).

                          http://store.kashi.com/heritage_pilaf...& i got some at whole foods a while back. not widely available, but it has been around for many, many years. maybe even their first product.

                          1. re: alkapal

                            Although this originally started back in '08, maybe this will help.

                            I also recommend the Kashi. It takes longer to cook, but worth it. Try adding some seasoning into it; use a good stock instead of water, onions and mushrooms are another option, and try some herbs that mesh with whatever you are serving with it. I have also "sauteed" the mix with oil before adding liquid to keep it from sticking.

                            Forbidden rice is a whole different taste and texture. There should be an oriental specialty store somewhere in your area. It is more expensive. But occasionally, being a CH allows you to play and pay a bit more with your food. ;-)

                        2. For the first 18 years of my life, I was fed rice at least once, and sometimes more, every dang day. It was always the sticky, medium grain japanese-style rice. My mom tried brown rice once or twice, and complained bitterly that it tasted like wood. If you simply want max nutrients, sorry to say, brown is the way to go. However, there are a few alternatives:
                          1) "uncle ben's converted rice" has more nutrients than white, but less than brown. IMO, it tastes OK
                          2) "The Seductions of Rice" is the bible for rice eaters.
                          3) My local store "Berkeley Bowl" in Calif. has baby kalijiri, red, forbidden black, brown basmati, and a few other exotic rices. I assume they have just as much
                          nutrition as regular brown, medium grain rice. They all tasted pretty good, and I strongly suggest you search them out and try them.
                          4) have you tried 'wild' rice from Minnesota? really expensive, really hard to find, but it is hands down my favorite over all other rices (yeah, I know, botannically it is a grass and not rice, blah, blah, blah, but I love it).

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: jerry i h

                            The Seduction of Rice is a beautiful book, with great recipes.

                          2. I'm with you. I could eat only white rice and soy sauce for the rest of my life and be very happy. But brown rice...I tried, I really, really tried to like it, but I just don't.

                            I have found that I love a 50/50 mix of quinoa and white rice, however. The blend is even better for you nutritionally than straight brown rice, and I get that white rice flavor. It cooks up perfectly in the rice cooker, too.

                            1. Just eat white rice.

                              If you're worried about health and nutrition, just mix in a couple of slices of whole grain bread every once in a while.

                              Plus, with gas prices rising, housing prices falling ... who wants to live forever?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                eat white rice, and be happy you can live longer and buy a house with the falling prices. ;-) and try that kashi 7 grain pilaf. it is tasty!

                              2. Eat your white rice, as others have suggested, since brown rice doesn't *really* have that much more nutrition to it.

                                Do you like barley (as mentioned above)? How about bulghur or quinoa? Any of these three would be good grainy substitutions in many dishes with a *bit* more nutrient than rice.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Emme

                                  I find it a bit odd when people suggest whole grains (bulgur) or seeds (quinoa) as substitutes for rice.

                                  Have you ever tried a bowl of bulgur in place of a bowl of white rice?

                                  It just doesn't taste right. Grains like bulgur, or even barley, have such a distinctive taste to them that they taste foreign when paired with foods that normally would be eaten with white rice.

                                  How about some BBQ pork and egg fried bulgur?? Chicken teriyaki bowl with a nice mound of quinoa? Just doesn't seem right, does it?

                                  It's sort of like how I feel about making PB&J with with an earthy grainy bread like whole wheat or seven grain. The grains just overpower the PB&J and gets in the way. For my money, straight white bread (something like Texas Toast) works best.

                                  Just my 0.02.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    i can respect that, but i was just offering an alternative for getting a little more nutrients in via grain, if the flavor/texture/ness of brown rice was undesirable to the OP. i don't suggest that it will *replace* a bowl of rice, but might be a palatable "other" option.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      I disagree. I make stuffed peppers with barley instead of the usual white rice and it is magnificent.

                                  2. Parboiled rice is good for you. Millions of peope in the sub-continent--especially Bangladesh--have eaten parboiled rice since time immemorial. Uncle Ben's is parboiled. Nutrients are not somehow subtracted and then added! Unhusked rice is parboiled, driving existing nutrients into the grain. The rice is then dried and milled. Most of you who don't know what parboiled rice is should figure out that parboiling is a way to get needed nutrients/micronutrients to huge poor populations in need of such benefits.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                      While I agree with your comments, I do think parboiled rice does not taste as good as regular rice.

                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                        I cook a 50-50 mix of parboiled and white (both the same long grain Indica). The taste is about the same as white alone. I much prefer Japonica (e.g. a Japanese rice from Californnia), but the stuff costs about $5.00 a pound here. Like others on these boards, as a Japanese American kid we used to think that Uncle Ben's was some abomination only to be found in the US.

                                      2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                        Sam, I'm having brain flatulence. I know we have discussed this before, but darned if I can find the thread... Please excuse me if I asked you this before.

                                        From a nutrient point of view, is parboiled rice better than brown rice?

                                        From a cost point of view, which is cheapest, white, brown or parboiled (global generalizations requested)?

                                        And taking into account all factors other than taste (cost, nutrients, storage issues, environmental issues etc), which rice in your experience would be the best choice to feed huge less affluent populations?

                                        (listen, I realize this could be the subject of a Ph.D thesis,and you may have already posted about this. Feel free to ignore this question, or feel free to redirect to another thread)

                                        Like others before me, I have to say that I like the taste of white short-grain Korean/Japanese style rice. But I will change rices to match a cuisine, so basmati for Indian/Asian Subcontinent, jasmine for Thai, arborio for Italian etc. And I also like to add things to rice to change up the flavours. Here are a few ideas to make rice more varied:

                                        West African jollof rice: Rice stewed with a base of tomatoes and spices, and if you wish, a protein of some kind. Not unlike a paella in concept, but with a different spice palate.

                                        Beans and rice: a nice whole protein source. My mom will often throw beans into the rice cooker with the plain white rice. Peas and kidney beans are my favorite. Peas will cook with the rice if they are fresh, but the kidney beans are best precooked.

                                        Recently discovered the joys of lebanese style rice in a resto yesterday, and would love if anyone has suggestions on how to recreate this dish. We bought a roasted lamb dish with a bed of rice pillaf. The rice seemed like it was parboiled rice. Rice was seasoned with some cinnamon, toasted almonds, pine nuts, thin slices of orange, parsley, and then covered with slabs of perfectly roasted lamb, the juices and fat from the lamb then permeated the rice. Woah Nelly... So good. I wonder if there are any other spices in there (wondering about cloves, cardamom, nutmeg...). Rice like that could make me consider giving up my white rice for good!!! (well, not seriously consider. But just the fact the thought crossed my mind...)

                                        1. re: moh

                                          Nurient-wise, brown rice is best followed by parboiled and then by white. The nutritional differences, however, are insignificant for most Americans given their diets. The difference between parboiled and white, however, can be significant for infants and children in south Asia where rice is the main food. Brown rice is subject to storage pests, spoilage and requires a great deal more energy to cook than white or parboiled--not an option for people in developing countries. Most nutrients for the costs (for energy and to the environment) is probably parboiled. Parboiling is done in huge quantities so does not add that much to production costs.

                                          Just checking: the parboiled I bought the other day costs about $1.10 per kg. The white cost about $1.50 per kg! (and as per my reply above, compared to $11.00 per kg of imported Japanese type rice here).

                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                            Thank you Sam! Informative as always. I can see how the extra fuel to cook brown rice could be a problem, as well as the pest thing.

                                            Your comment about the insignificant nutritional differences for most Americans is also appreciated. We are lucky to be able to decide which taste we prefer. In fact, I think the biggest problem isn't so much the type of rice as it is the amount of rice we eat! For my semi-mythical diet, I have tried to cut my rice portion by half. It is helping.

                                      3. Parboiled rice taste exactly like cooked white rice that have been "re-cooked" again. ( not so palatable actually ).

                                        Infact, the process of getting to parboiled stage "tells a similar" condition as "re-cooking Used white rice" b'cos the grain has been steamed , then dried and then polished ...and when you cooked ,....it is exactly similar to "re-cooking , a cooked rice that was dried and being cooked again .

                                        I find eating "too much" parboiled , causes "constipation".

                                        I recommend eating "semi polished or embryo rice" instead.

                                        It is also good for diabetics !

                                        I know b'cos I am a Kidney transplanted patient myself !