It’s back to basics with brown rice.
Nutritionally brown rice is better for you than its white counterpart - it’s higher in fiber, vitamins and minerals. And, I think it tastes better – it’s chewier and nuttier. The tradeoff, however, is that it has a much longer cooking time and is more perishable.
Generally, I’m a patient person. But, making a good pot of brown rice used to give me a fit. Despite the fact that I love cooking gadgets, I refuse to buy a rice cooker, so I do it old school – in a pot. That meant cooking brown rice for an hour plus at high altitude with a lot of guesswork and not so good results.
That was, until I learned the trick.
After one of my not-so-successful attempts, I came across a recipe for Perfect Brown Rice on Pinch My Salt, which adopted an unusual cooking technique from Saveur magazine. Basically, the trick is this: boil the rice in a lot of water, drain it off and return it to the pot to steam. So simple, but it works.
I adapted the technique slightly for high altitude – using 6 cups of water per 1 cup rice and also boiling the rice longer. (Saveur used 12 cups water/30 minute boil, Pinch My Salt 4 cups/30 minute boil.) At high altitude it has to cook a bit longer and the water/rice ratio needs increasing. However, the 6 to 1 ratio can be used wherever you might be located.
So far I’ve used this method to cook short grain brown rice, long grain brown rice and brown basmati and they’ve all come out perfect. (The photos are of short grain brown rice.) Give it a go!
Tidbits about Brown Rice:
- Rice Layers: A rice grain is comprised of several layers. In brown rice, only the outer husk is removed. However, in white rice the grains are milled to further remove the bran and germ.
- Class: Today brown rice costs more than white rice but in certain parts of the world, particularly in parts of Asia, brown rice was less preferable and associated with poverty.
- Nutrition: Brown rice is one of the top nutritious foods on the market because it provides high levels of fiber, complex carbohydrates, certain B vitamins, vitamin E, lysine, calcium, iron, and phosphorus. It’s also touted as good for weight-loss because it has no cholesterol, a miniscule amount of fat, and only an estimated 160 calories per cooked cup.
- Storage: Brown rice becomes rancid more quickly than white rice, therefore it should be refrigerated. Sources vary on how quickly it should be used, typically between one and six months.
Sources: Britannica.com; AsiaRice.org; Rice as a Food, Encyclopedia of Food and Culture.
Perfect Brown Rice (Even at High Altitude)
Yields 2 to 3 cups (short grain rice 3 cups)
It’s ready to eat for the week and a quick addition to fried rice, soups or salads. If you prefer your rice more chewy, boil it a few minutes less. If you prefer it less crunchy, a few minutes more.
This same rice/water ratio can be used at high altitude and non-high altitude. Recipe doubles or triples nicely.
6 cups water
1 cup brown rice
- In a large pot with a tight fitting lid, bring water to a boil over high heat.
- Rinse rice in a colander with a large bowl underneath, swirling the rice with your hand for 30 seconds. Drain. Add the rice to boiling water, stir once, and boil uncovered for 35 minutes for high altitude or 30 minutes regular. Pour the rice into the same colander over the sink. Let rice drain for 10 seconds, then return it to the pot, off the heat.
- Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and/or foil. Allow to steam for 10 minutes. Uncover the rice, fluff with a fork, and season to taste.