Brown rice typically has a reputation for being hard to cook and not nearly as pleasant to eat as white rice. I, myself, had never enjoyed eating brown rice until I had been shown how to properly prepare and cook it!
White rice is certainly delicious, and no curry tastes the same over brown rice as it does over white, but the difference between the two in terms of nutritional value is too large to go unnoticed. While white rice has been refined, bleached, and stripped of all of its outer fibres (the bran and germ layers) and most of its nutrients, brown rice typically has these fibres in tact. Many vitamins are now added back in to white rice after processing, but brown rice still provides a much more natural source of nutrients, as well as a surprisingly high amount of magnesium. Magnesium is essential for enzyme function and protein production, and is a necessary catalyst for the absorption of calcium.
Simply adding brown rice to your diet on a more regular basis can have amazing effects on your health, and even help you shed a few pounds around the midsection as the whole grains help to detoxify your digestive system.
Grains need to be thoroughly rinsed and also soaked before you cook them. Rinsing washes the grains of any particles, dust, and dirt that may be stuck to the grain. Soaking your grains allows the grain to absorb water and makes it easier for the grain to break down carbohydrates during the cooking process.
To rinse your rice, measure it out into a large glass bowl. Fill the bowl with cold water, and gently swirl the rice with your hand. Pour the water and rice out into a strainer, and then return the rice to the bowl. Repeat these steps until the water in the bowl is relatively clear.
To soak the rice, add the appropriate amount of cooking liquid to the glass bowl. All grains have a set ratio of grain to water for cooking. This ratio is typically 1 part grain to 2 parts water, but sometimes varies depending on the grain.
For rice, add two cups water for every one cup of rice. Let the rice soak in the water for at least 2 hours, but several hours or overnight is ideal.
When it comes time to cook, you will notice that the rice has absorbed a fair amount of the water. There is no need to add more water when you begin to cook the rice, as the water has already been absorbed into the grain.
Transfer the rice and water into a heavy stainless-steel saucepan with a tight-fitting lid or a ceramic pot with a heavy lid. Add a pinch of salt to the pot. Not only does salt help to round out the flavour of the grain, but it helps to break down the carbohydrates of the grain. Heat on high until the liquid boils, then cover completely with the lid, turn down to low, and let it cook for 50 minutes.
Avoid the temptation to peek in during the cooking process – the release of any steam will change the texture of the rice. Luckily, my stainless steel pots come with glass lids, which I find very helpful in gauging when to remove the pot from the heat, but as long as you stay around the 50-minute mark, your rice should turn out just the same.
When the rice has finished cooking, remove it from the heat and let it sit, with the lid still on, for 5-15 minutes to set. Then, remove the lid. You will notice holes along the surface of the cooked rice, where steam channels had formed – this is a characteristic of properly cooked brown rice! Give the rice a bit of a fluff with a wooden spoon and serve.
For a macrobiotic twist, try topping your rice with freshly toasted sesame seeds and, if you’re adventurous, some flaked toasted nori (a seaweed).
To toast sesame seeds, you’ll need:
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
1 tbsp black sesame seeds
Heat the seeds over medium heat in a heavy stainless-steel pan for about 5 minutes, or until they begin to smell very fragrant and the white sesame seeds are beginning to colour slightly.
You won’t believe how delicious brown rice can be when it is cooked the way!