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Sep 10, 2012 10:17 AM

Brown rice. Better for you than white rice. But I don't like it. How do you cook it to make it palatable?

Hi everybody,
I really would like to start eating brown rice, but I can never get it to come out right. What am I doing wrong? What brand should I be buying? How the hell do you cook it?
Sincerely yours,
Brwun rice impaired me.

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  1. When you eat plain steamed rice (i.e. w/ Chinese food etc) do you usually eat short grain or long grain rice? Also do you use a rice cooker? Depending on your answers to the above I've got a method that really well for us.

    2 Replies
    1. re: qianning

      I eat white long and medium grain, and basmati. I haven't ever bought jasmine rice but I enjoy it. No rice cooker, can cook white rice on the stovetop no problemo.

      1. re: buttertart

        Well. fwiw, for us switching to brown rice was an acclimation process. Years back our standard white rice was a medium grain California or Heilongjiang grown japonica, usually cooked in a rice cooker. There is a type of Japanese milling called "haiga" (there are several brands available around here, usually found at Japanese or Korean food stores). "Haiga" is rice milled so that the bran is removed but the germ remains. At first I added about 1 part haiga to 4 parts white rice, and then over about a month increased the amount of haiga until it was all haiga (bearing in mind that we eat rice 3-4 dinners a week). Then once we were eating all haiga I started adding in "Genjimai", i.e. Japanese style brown rice, most of the bran and all of the germ intact, and repeated the gradual ratio adjustment until it was all genjimai. We now much prefer brown rice.

        Cooking haiga or genjimai in a rice cooker, I don't do anything differently than I did with white rice, but I always rinse white rice anyway. For stove top cooking, I rinse the genjimai until the water runs clear, then drain it into a sieve, and let the damp drained rice sit in the sieve for about 15 minutes or so. I then cook it exactly as I would white rice, same timing, same proportion liquid.

        We don't eat all that much indica rice, and when we do it is Kalizeera which I can't find in brown rice, and so I haven't switched to brown indica. However, these days when I cook plain, i.e. not a pilau or pilaf or biryani, indica, I do use the rinse, boil, drain, steam method, which removes a fair amount of starch and results in very fluffy separated grains.

    2. I like brown jasmine rice a lot. Don't miss the white at all. 2 to 1 ratio of water to rice, bring to a boil uncovered, reduce to low and cover, cook for 40 minutes. Let rest another 10 minutes before lifting lid.

      4 Replies
      1. re: letsindulge

        +1 on brown jasmine. It can be difficult to find, but my WF stocks it.

        For some reason, brown basmati tastes like dirt to me (and yes, I rinse it beforehand).

        I try not to do brown rice in my rice cooker. It takes almost 2 hours from start to finish. I'd rather just do it on the stovetop.

        1. re: letsindulge

          I was buying Trader Joe's brown basmati for several years but tried their brown jasmine when the basmati was out of stock, and have never gone back. Brown jasmine is less assertive than brown basmati. I cooked it as you do until recently, when I tried the "pasta method": add it to a large volume of boiling water, boil until it is nearly done, drain it, then put it back into the covered empty pot and let it sit for 10+ minutes so it absorbs the remaining moisture. It comes out fluffier, which I prefer.

          Another approach for those who don't like the flavor is to cook the rice in broth/stock. I like to use Better than Bouillon mushroom base if the accompanying main has no gravy or sauce to go over the rice.

          1. re: letsindulge

            I'm a brown jasmine rice person too, and get it from Trader Joe's. Often I make it as a pilaf with olive oil or toasted sesame oil, a small-diced onion, maybe also some pine nuts or other add-ins, saut├ęd along with the rice before adding water or chicken stock. That might make it more palatable to buttertart. I use the same brown rice in dishes like jambalaya and gumbo; works for me.

            Other brown rice I've tried: basmati, whose flavor I didn't particularly light, and Uncle Ben's whole grain brown rice (not the instant or ready), which is OK.

            1. re: John Francis

              I'll get some of that next time at TJs. I think pilaffy is the way to go. Or the Chinese rice dish you fan, garlic browned in oil or if you're lucky chicken fat and cooked in chicken broth, whic amounts to pretty much the same thing.

          2. Regarding how to cook it'...just follow the instructions on the box!!! Do that, and you really can't go wrong
            It does take longer to cook, and the texture is quite different than white rice so if you're expecting a similar result you'll probably be disappointed.
            As far as it being 'better for you', that's probably _slightly_ true since it is delivering beneficial fibre...but calorically and the potential for messing with blood sugar (if that is a concern), it is probably not so different than white rice.
            It just tastes better (to me, anyway).

            11 Replies
            1. re: The Professor

              Re; blood sugar, that seems odd. A diabetic friend says she uses brown rice a lot and even makes jambalaya out of it. Says it doesn;t affect her much although she avoids other carbs when she has it. I just thought it was signifigantly better.

                1. re: buttertart

                  Not so; converted is lower. Brown can be almost as low, or much higher than other rice depending on variety and how it's cooked. But glycemic index is meaningless for folks with metabolic issues. Not predictive of response at all.

                  Any amount of rice will spike blood sugar in a diabetic unless they take meds to compensate or they're satifsfied with less than ideal post meal glucose.

                  Brown rice has 3 gms more fiber than white, and such a scarcity of nutrients, especially for it's calorie expenditure, that it's kind of splitting hairs to call it better.

                  1. re: mcf

                    That's very good to know. My mother started using brown rice because it's 'healthier', but she has to use sweet brown rice in combination with the regular short grain brown rice to make it palatable. Seems like that negates any low glycemic benefits, and it also has more calories.

                    What is this converted rice that you speak of?

                    1. re: soypower

                      Converted or parboiled rice - rice that has been boiled or steamed before removing the bran. This drives some of the nutrients into the grain. In the USA, Uncle Bens is the best known brand. Note, we are not talking about 'instant' rice.

                      We have also talked about parboiled rice from India.

                      Brown rice probably has a lower glycemic index because it takes longer to digest, due to the bran coating. In a crude sense, if a food is mostly starch and sugars, and easy to digest, it will have a higher GI.

                      There is also some variation in the index for different varieties of rice. My vague memory is that the longer grain varieties (e.g. basmatti, jasmine) have a lower index, short grain, including (sweet) glutinous a higher index. There is an online database, in Australia I believe, that gives the GI for a variety of foods. Just do a search on 'rice' there.

                    2. re: mcf

                      i was insulin dependent during pregnancy and all rice spiked my sugar levels. i avoided rice all together bc it just wasn't worth it. however, overall it is slightly healthier than white. when you do make brown rice don't forget to soak. in fact, you should soak it overnight. then drain the next day and add fresh water to cook.

                      1. re: trolley

                        Why is the overnight soak important? I don't think anyone else mentioned that on this thread.

                        1. re: paulj

                          On the news today, they said that rinsing, soaking and then changing the water for cooking can reduce the otherwise unacceptable arsenic levels by 30%. They may still be too high, though.

                        2. re: trolley

                          Why? I've been cooking and eating brown rice for over 30 years and I've never bothered to do such a thing.

                          1. re: KitchenBarbarian

                            overnight soaking is common in SE Asia for sweet glutinous rice. But the soaked rice is then steamed (above water), and the method is used for both polished and whole (black) rice.

                            1. re: KitchenBarbarian

                              you don't have to soak it overnight. you can just measure and cook. my mother always did it and i think it give the rice a nicer texture. some people soak it for other reasons...


                  2. I agree with you, buttertart about not loving brown rice. I found some brown basmati rice at the DeKalb Farmer's Market, and it's more flavorful and less cardboardy tasting.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: jmcarthur8

                      DeKalb as in where to stop between Chicago and family in Iowa?

                      1. re: buttertart

                        No, that's the one that knows the "L" should be silent. This is the one in Atlanta that pronounces it with the "L" loud and clear.

                        1. re: jmcarthur8

                          Somehow the DeKalb I know seems like one of the least likely places in the US to have a farmers' maarket..

                    2. I really like brown basmati. I buy it in a bulk plastic jug, and follow directions in terms of rinsing it, measuring rice and water and cooking time. I cook on a gas stove with a thick old black Caphalon pot. My family enjoys it more than white rice now.