When Saveur Magazine calls something perfect, my initial reaction is to just take their word for it and bookmark regardless of subject matter. Whether it’s about poaching or pig’s feet, I trust that the technique or recipe will work, so when Saveur recently published a method for making perfect brown rice, a staple in my kitchen, the issue was dog-eared within seconds of finding the page.
As if cooking pasta, Saveur’s method calls for boiling the rice in a large amount of water. A common practice in Indian rice cookery, this method is nothing new, but to East and Southeast Asians like myself, it’s an unusual idea. I’ve been taught since childhood to steam white rice in just enough water for the grains to absorb and naturally did the same thing when I switched to brown rice.
It took more than a few wasted batches before getting consistently good results with steaming, but Saveur’s boiling method worked perfectly on the first try. Old habits are hard to break, but I was more than willing to embrace such a foolproof approach.
My pride shattered from not figuring out such a simple solution sooner, I am jumping on the chance to one-up Saveur and suggest a much better method for cooking brown rice. My food blogger street cred will skyrocket with this approach.
Or maybe not.
It takes a lot to improve a “perfect” Saveur recipe and I’m not about to tell you to cook the rice with chicken stock and a side of cow. The following recipe still calls for nothing more than the grains and a lot of water but with some extra planning ahead and a bit of temperature control.
Healthy Cooking! hosted by Fun and Food
Let me get a few things out of the way first:
Is it easier?
Is it faster?
The cooking time is cut in half, but the rice needs to be prepared at least one day in advance.
Bear with me.
Is it better for you?
As you’ve probably guessed by now, my idea of the perfect brown rice involves sprouting or germination before boiling. This process greatly improves the nutritional value of the grains, improves digestibility, and cuts the cooking time in half.
I realize that depending on cultural background and individual preference, your perception of rice cookery nirvana may differ wildly from mine. I know a few people who wouldn’t touch brown rice with a ten-foot pole. A Filipino weaned on white rice for most of his life, it was difficult for me to make the switch. Tastes change, and if we happen to share these preferences then perhaps this can be your side dish of choice as well:
- As opposed to sticky clusters of rice that can be eaten with chopsticks, you prefer light and fluffy grains that barely cling with each other.
- You appreciate the nuttier, more assertive taste of brown rice.
- You don’t mind putting in a bit more time and effort to extract the most nutritional value possible from the grains.
recipe adapted from Saveur Magazine’s “Perfect Brown Rice”
for an alternate method using a hot plate and a dimmer switch, check out this brown rice germination/sprouting tutorial at Instructables
Germinated Brown Rice
short, medium, or long grain brown rice
- I usually germinate the rice inside a warm oven along with a batch of homemade yogurt. The oven light is switched on to maintain a temperature of approximately 100ºF, perfect for both brown rice germination and yogurt fermentation.
Wash the rice thoroughly under warm running water. In an appropriately sized container, cover with at least two inches of warm water. The grains will absorb a considerable amount of liquid during germination.
Turn on the oven until the temperature reaches 100ºF. Turn off the oven then switch the light bulb on. Leave the container of rice in the oven for at least 24 hours and up to three days, replacing the soaking liquid with fresh water whenever possible.
Wash the rice thoroughly prior to cooking. Proceed with Saveur Magazine’s method, lessening the boiling time to approximately 15 minutes.