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Volume III
September 16, 2011

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

My Kingdom for FLUFFY Brown Rice!

By Alice Osborne

I have no problem turning out batches of perfectly steamed white rice, whether it's on the stovetop, in the oven, or in the rice cooker. But I have not been able to come up with a fluffy, nicely textured brown rice. And I'm so stinkin' frustrated over this issue that I'd almost give my kingdom for a solution!

"What's the difference - the white rice is fluffy, so why all the bother", you say? Well, the difference is in the nutrition factor. The process that produces brown rice removes only the outermost layer, the hull, of the rice kernel and is the least damaging to its nutritional value. The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids. Fully milled and polished white rice is required to be "enriched" with vitamins B1, B3 and iron - faulty nutrition at best.

By choosing brown over white rice, we automatically significantly enhance our intake of some very important nutrients (see chart). So for that fact alone, the bother to learn how to cook this grain is really worth the time and effort it can take. But there's another reason for pushing the issue: I really like the taste of brown rice over white - it's more distinct - nuttier is one way to describe it.

Thus I resorted to my usual quick and effective method of finding an answer - I searched the Internet. There were LOADS of answers are out there on how to cook fluffy brown rice, but on a couple neat websites,, and, I found the best ones, I think. First, here's what pinchmysalt's cook and author had to say:

"Use whichever type of brown rice you prefer [however, on the website it says that short grain brown rice was used.] Use at least four cups of water for every one cup of rice, and add salt to taste.

"Rinse rice in a strainer under cold running water for 30 seconds, swirling the rice around with your hand. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a large pot over high heat. When water boils, add the rice, stir it once. Turn heat to medium and boil, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After 30 minutes, pour the rice into a strainer over the sink. Let the rice drain for 10 seconds, then return it to the pot, off the heat. Immediately cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and set it aside to allow the rice to steam for 10 minutes (if your pot lid isn't extremely tight, place a piece of aluminum foil over pot then place the lid on top of foil for a tighter seal). After ten minutes, uncover rice, fluff with a fork, and season with salt to taste."

The ohforfun cook had another approach - using the oven, which seems easier to me. Here's the process using 1 1/2 cups brown rice (this recipe works for all the brown rice varieties) and 2 1/2 cups water. This author also added 1 tablespoon of butter (I would, too - for added deliciousness) and then some salt to taste.

So here's what we do: After preheating the oven to 375 degrees, we put the rice in an 8-inch square glass baking dish. We then boil the water, add the butter and salt, and pour it over the rice and stir to combine. The dish needs to be covered tightly (aluminum foil works well) and it's then placed on the middle rack of the oven for one hour.

While I haven't tried either method yet, I trust the authors and feel hopeful. Can you just imagine all the healthy and amazing dishes we can create (that family will actually eat) now that we can truly turn out a dish of tasty and fluffy brown rice? Curries, pilafs, salads, paellas - the options abound (and I didn't have to give my kingdom)!

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