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Parboiled Rice [moved from Home Cooking]

To me, this isn't really rice.. I've told wifey 69420670 times, and here we have a brand new 20lb bag of parboiled rice.

I think she likes it because it doesn't stick together. I think I hate it because it doesn't stick together.

What's the deal with this rice? Is there some way to prepare it to convert me to converted rice?

It always seems dry, more chewy, and not soft and moist and whatnot. I just feel like it's an inferior product. Am I wrong?

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  1. I opened this thread for precisely the same reason. I don't get what the appeal of parboiled rice is and was curious to see an enthusiast's point of view.

    3 Replies
    1. re: MoGa

      I can say for my mom, who used it growing up, she never learned to cook real rice. So it was the only thing she knew.

      1. re: rasputina

        The cooking instructions for Uncle Ben's original converted rice are virtually the same as for (real) long grain rice - combine rice, water, seasonings, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook undisturbed for 20 minutes. The water ratio is a bit higher

      2. I like making Mexican rice, Red Beans and Rice or Jambalaya with converted rice.
        The only other suggestion is to add a little more liquid when cooking converted rice.
        I grew up eating rice everyday. I actually like converted rice or brown rice since it's different from regular long grain rice.

        To be honest, I'd rather have bread or pasta instead of rice. I guess I've burned out on eating rice by high school.

        1. Can't account for your wife's taste - BUT - parboiled rice is great when you forgot to precook rice for soup and just want to throw it in, or want no-fail paella, or other things where the texture isn't that important but instant cooking is. For rice - as rice - cooking it from scratch is the best for flavor, texture, mouth feel.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rcallner

            Parboiled (converted) rice is not instant rice.

          2. There are many varieties of rice, some are sticky when cooked, others cook up fluffy and well separated. None are inherently superior, though most cultures have distinct preferences. Some cultures use different types for different purposes. One way to look at parboiling is that it just adds to that variety. If you don't like it fine; others do.


            1. I grew up on it, but I have not cooked with it in at least 20 years. I don't consider it real rice either.

              1. Where is this 20lb bag of rice from?

                In the USA, the most common parboiled rice is Uncle Ben's converted, which comes in 1-2lb boxes - except maybe in food service quantities. When I do a web search for '20lb parboiled' I find products from India and Hispanic brands like Goya.

                I wonder whether the OP and his wife had different ethnic backgrounds. The OP wants rice that is soft, moist and sticky, which almost sounds like an Asian (maybe Japanese) preference. Indian rice is more often a long grain, cooked light and fluffy, with loose grains. In Latin America rice is often cooked pilaf style, fried initially with aromatics, which helps keep the grains separate.

                17 Replies
                1. re: paulj

                  I've oft wondered whether most Mexican cuisne restaurants in the U.S., small and chains do use parboiled rice. The texture is different than any rice I've used for the last 35 years. (Haven't used Uncle Bens, but once upon a time, I did use a box of Rice-a-roni San Francisco - or something on that order.)

                  1. re: paulj

                    My wife is Mexican, we live in Canada. I like Chinese style rice a lot, and mostly buy Jasmine rice (rose brand). Turns out the 20lb bag came from the airport since my wife works there, and someone tried to bring it on the plane not realizing the weight limit, and so she got to bring it home.

                    I'm not sure what brand the parboiled rice is without going for a dig.

                    1. re: SocksManly

                      So apparently it is not the Uncle Bens converted rice that most American posters have in mind, much less the instant stuff. Next time I go to an Indian grocery I'll have to see if they carry an Indian parboiled rice - in a small enough quantity to experiment with.

                      The last Jasmine rice that I used was the broken variety. Jasmine is a long grain, that is looser when cooked than the typical Japanese (sushi) style.

                      1. re: paulj

                        I quite enjoy "real" parboiled rice...but Uncle Ben's - not so much. I buy it at Indian grocers here. Aside from the nutritional boost, I find that parboiling adds a nuttiness to the flavour and a nice firm texture. It looks a lot like regular rice with a bit of a beige tinge.

                        1. re: fmed

                          Do you mean that it is 'enriched' with ....?

                          1. re: Rella

                            Parboiling involves partially boiling the rice with the husk on...then pressure steaming it, then drying and then de-husking/polishing. This pre-cooking process extracts the nutrients from the bran and then drives it into the kernel. Parboiled rice supposedly has 80% of the nutrient content of brown rice.

                            1. re: fmed

                              A quick lesson on parboiling for which I am impressed! Thanks so much. I did not know this. My appreciation.

                          2. re: fmed

                            Hi fmed, just to be clear, uncle ben's is not real par boiled rice?

                            1. re: MilliePop

                              I don't know about 'real' or not, but from the descriptions there seems to be a difference between Uncle Bens and the Indian parboiled rice. But I also suspect some people are thinking of instant rice, not Uncle Ben's converted or parboiled rice.

                              1. re: paulj

                                Instant rice is just horrible and I've had uncle ben's parboiled rice before. Just bought some parboiled rice from the indian store.will try to see if they come out the same. even though this is a indian brand name (swad)...it's a product of the u.s. so I don't know how authentic it will be.

                              2. re: MilliePop

                                This is how I understand the difference: Uncle Ben's is parboiled, enriched then partially or fully pre cooked to make it more "instant". Indian parboiled rice isn't pre cooked (beyond the initial parboiling process).

                                1. re: fmed

                                  Uncle Bens 'Original Converted' rice takes the same 20 minutes cooking time as regular long grain rice.

                                  1. re: paulj

                                    Ah. Then perhaps it is just regular parboiled rice.

                            2. re: paulj

                              Sam's club carries 25 pound containers of Riceland parboiled rice, as well as 12 pound bags of Uncle Ben's parboiled rice for those who want larger quantities of "regular" par boiled rice.

                              As for me, I will stick with non par boiled.

                              1. re: paulj

                                Grew up on parboiled, but personally I don't like it much. I bought my first rice cooker 15 years ago, and I only cook non-parboiled rice. (Thai Jasmine rice mostly, glutinous (Isan Style) rice sometimes, brown rice occasionally). Last 2 years I have been buying local (Thai) Jasmine rice that is really fresh (rice is a perishable good which some American/Canadian distributors refuse to recognize with dates on the packages.....

                                1. re: cacruden

                                  Similar here - grew up on parboiled and (ack) Minute rice. Not sure if I ever had real rice at home, and rarely if ever went for Chinese food since we were poor.

                                  Then i got my own place and learned to cook cheap regular rice in my heavy hand-me-down pots. Originally I got it to save money but I was amazed how much better it tasted than the insipid stuff I had grown up on.

                                  Never even seriously considered a rice cooker until I thought about getting one for work, but still don't have one.

                              2. re: SocksManly

                                You could always donate it to a local food kitchen.

                            3. Are you wrong? Well, no, inasmuch as it's your opinion. It doesn't make HER wrong, tho. It just means the two of you disagree. I've only had converted rice once (thought it was really strange) and tend to agree with you...it just doesn't seem right. Then again, if Mrs. ricepad brought home 20 pounds of it, I'd either try to find some way to prepare it that I liked, or wonder why she insisted on getting 20 pounds of something she knows I don't like. It could be about more than just the rice, IYKWIM.

                              1 Reply
                              1. Parboiled rice is a fairly ancient product, at least in India, and has its uses.

                                Julia Child used to refer to the "avuncular" brand of parboiled rice; "converted rice" was a trademark of the company for an old product. Anyway, it was certainly better than instant rice, and often more reliable than the regular long-grain white rice variety in the local supermarket. In the Northeast, one didn't see much in the way of medium-grain or short-grain white rices in the postwar years, so it was pretty much a choice among instant rice, parboiled rice and N brand long-grain white rice. The liminal food memories of many Boomer and Gen X palates were formed with parboiled rice; once a liminal memory is set, it becomes a benchmark (for good - your mother's wonderful rice - or ill - your mother's awful rice), and is tough to dislodge.

                                Just my 2 cents.

                                1. There's a couple of posts on the same topic here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/845449

                                  (We've locked that thread to consolidate the discussion here, but want to let hounds know about it.)

                                  1. I keep parboiled rice in the house for two specific uses. I like to use it in arroz con pollo, especially when I'm making it in the oven in a large amount. The rice retains some integrity, even if slightly overcooked, and the grains remain separate. It's also almost indispensable when I make large pans of Mexican/Spanish-style rice to serve with burritos at the soup kitchen where I volunteer. Again - it's very forgiving in large quantities and doesn't go all to mush if overcooked or reheated. For pretty much everything else, I use either jasmine or basmati, depending on what I'm making.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Nyleve

                                      Thank you. Yours is one of the more sensible posts in this thread. Many don't even seem to be clear on the difference between parboiled rice and instant (pre-cooked) rice such as Minute Rice, or even rice-a-roni god help us.

                                      It is also worth repeating (as was mentioned above) that parboiled rice is considerably more nutritious than other white rices, including jasmine, basmati, and so on, because the process preserves much of the nutrients otherwise lost in the polishing process. Indeed, some folks seem to think that white rice is somehow "natural" when in fact it is a highly processed product. IMO it is reasonable to say that parboiled rice is closer to brown rice than white rice.

                                      1. re: johnb

                                        Really the only rice I absolutely will not keep in the pantry is instant or minute rice. In my world, there is no place for it. The product is so inferior in every way to regular rice of any kind without even the redeeming quality of being a true time-saver that I can't ever think of a way that I would use it. Proper rice - white, brown, basmati, jasmine, parboiled, whatever - never has seemed to take so much time to make that you'd really want to settle for such a crappy substitute as instant rice. And yes, I know that parboiled rice is supposed to contain more nutrients than other white rice, but I can see why the texture would be off-putting to some people. It has its place, like most other ingredients, and doesn't deserve the scorn heaped upon it. Please correct me if I'm wrong about this but I think parboiled rice is preferred for some Caribbean cooking - I always see it displayed by the other West Indian groceries in the store.