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Jan 18, 2012 05:16 PM

Mark Bittman's brown rice cakes from NY Times Magazine?

Has anyone else tried to make Mark Bittman's brown rice cakes from the NY Times Sunday magazine?

I tried the Parmesan parsley. I think I am doing something wrong, because they don't stick together and soak up oil. I tried them last night in a stainless pan, and tonight am trying non-stick. After the failure last night, I froze the patties, and am patiently (ish) browning them from the frozen. Ideas? Tips? I have had the same problem with Madhur Jaffrey's zucchini meatballs, so I really do suspect it's me, although here I wonder why MB didn't use much of a binder, just the parm.

Thanks in advance nor any help!

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  1. Carumba! Patience and a non-stick pan are a virtue, or maybe it's the frozen patties. The patties are browning up, they are holding together, and , it's true, they are soaking up oil. Well, I'm doing much better with batch 2 , but am still in the market for ideas, if you have tried this recipe or one like it. Thanks!

    1. Normally, one cooks brown rice for 35 - 40 minutes, sometimes 45. Cooking it for an hour, as this recipe recommends, should give you a rice that's bloated and starchy --perfect for forming into patties. Do you think maybe you didn't cook the rice long enough?

      Bittman's recommendation of only 3 cups of fluid seems a bit low to me. To get the right texture for this application, I'd say put the 1.5 cups rice in 3.5 cups of COLD water, maybe even 4, and bring it all up to a rolling boil together, then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for the 1 hr. Boiling it this way will soften the bran and you should get something that's easier to form into patties, but not a mush.

      Another thing you might want to try is stirring the cheese, parsley and scallion in while the rice is still warm (not boiling hot, but warm enough to just begin to soften the cheese).

      Last suggestions -- make sure to use enough oil, make sure the oil is hot enough, and make sure not to move the patties around or flip them too soon. Let a nice crust form on one side before gently turning them over.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ninrn

        Thank you for the great suggestions. I *think* I cooked it long enough, but maybe not. I added water several times, and wound up draining it before cooling it. But I'll try again and leave it longer.

        Last night I made four cakes in two batches. The first batch was perfect, but the second went awry. I think you are right and I am trying to turn them too soon. And, yes, I think I used more oil in the first batch.

        Sounds like it's worth continuing the experiment. I think I will revisit the zucchini meatballs with your tips in mind, too. Patience and oil will be my watchwords!

        1. re: chowchienne

          Fine watchwords indeed. They worked for Jed Clampett. Good luck with the next batch.

      2. Which brown rice are you using?

        I just looked at the Bittman recipe for the brown rice cakes and couldn't help feeling.... yuck.
        Overcooking (and stirring non-risotto) rice might seem a good way to make rice stick but I have deep ingrained Spanish prejeudices about overcooked rice and the idea makes me shudder a bit, like when I saw a program in Spain suggesting using overcooked white rice to make makizushi rolls for the same "it sticks better" reason.
        Also, I form my patties whilst the rice is still very hot and this yields the best results for me.

        Toasted rice cakes (yaki onigiri) are part of the Japanese repertoire and I often make them with brown rice or semi hulled brown rice rather than just with white. I use both Spanish and Japanese style Japonica grains and they can be mixed with different flavourings, or filled with different flavourings or simply brushed with a great sauce (or dipped into one).
        Here are alternative instructions which may be of use to you:
        Adapt them with the flavourings Bittman suggested if you like.

        If sticking remains a problem because your rice is incompatible with the style of cooking and you don't mind another whole grain in the mix (adding a small percentage of alternative grains like millet, barley, poppy seeds, flax seeds etc is a well accepted thing to do when making Japanese brown rice and a habit I recommend heartily) you could always adapt a technique Heston Blumenthal has suggested for making quinoa sticky enough to make into makizushi rolls. His suggestion is to cook the pre-soaked/rinsed quinoa as normal and then remove part of it and blitz it with a blender/liquidiser before mixing it back in with the un-blitzed portion and dressing/flavouring it. A small portion of pureed quinoa through your rice should make it very sticky and more nutritious. Alternatively, you could try pureeing a portion of the brown rice in the same way, stirring it back in and seeing if that will work. Can't see why it wouldn't.
        Good luck!