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Better brown rice. March 28, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes, wit and wisdom.
Tags: , , , , , ,

Silence Dogood here. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones: I actually like brown rice. Even our friend Ben likes brown rice. And we all know by now that we should be eating brown rice, not white rice, which, like eating white bread, white pasta, and white sugar, is just asking for big bellies and type 2 diabetes somewhere in our future.

Or so they say. Asian cultures eat white rice routinely, but I haven’t heard about any obesity and diabetes epidemics in India, China, Japan, Pakistan, etc. Ditto for those white-pasta-eating Mediterranean types. Perhaps their active lifestyles, modest portions, and extremely moderate consumption of meats, processed foods, desserts, and fried foods might have something to do with this. But I digress.

In our own culture, eating these foods has been associated with empty carb/sugar calories, which we clearly can’t afford. It makes sense to switch off to whole grains whenever we can. The trick is to make sure the whole-grain foods taste delicious, so the specter of the leaden, brown, tasteless “health food” of the Seventies doesn’t rise up to choke you.

Here’s Silence’s 7th Rule: If it doesn’t taste good, it can’t be good for you. Real food tastes good, whether it’s an apple or a bowl of fresh raspberries or a baked sweet potato or a big, crunchy salad or a side of brown rice. Don’t be fooled by health claims if the food doesn’t taste good. Food should taste good. If it doesn’t taste good, it isn’t good. Period.

But let’s get back to that brown rice.  How can you make super-healthy brown rice that’s super-delicious, yummy enough to be a side dish on its own, yet mild enough to serve as a flavor-enhancing base for a stir-fry, curry, tofu dish, etc.? My go-to recipe is easy and oh so good. I add a lot of health-boosting ingredients, like hemp seeds, chia seeds, and black sesame seeds. But you don’t have to. Ignore the more exotic parts of this recipe, and it will still be delicious.

One last caveat: I’ve written this recipe for a rice cooker (available for $19.99 and up at all major department and cookware stores and online). Since I cook big batches of rice and want them to turn out well every time, I find a rice cooker indispensable. But I know plenty of people who cook their rice in a simple covered pot on the stove, so if you don’t want to use a rice cooker, don’t despair. Just do it.

               Silence’s Super Brown Rice

2 cups short-grain brown rice (again, these are rice-cooker cups, but the proportions remain stable for any method); can sub any brown rice for short-grain if desired

1 cup sweet brown rice, wild rice, barley, millet, red lentils, or wild rice mix

1/4 cup hemp seed

1/4 cup chia seed

1/8 cup black sesame seed

1/2 large or 1 small sweet onion, diced

1 leek, white part sliced, halved, and quartered

1 small carton mushrooms, or equivalent (any combination of button, shiitake, maitake, oyster, portabella, cremini, etc.), minced

veggie stock or broth

canola oil for sauteeing

sea salt or Trocomare

coarse-ground black pepper

toasted sesame oil

Rinse rice; add seeds and the requisite amount of water, using your rice cooker’s instructions. Let the mix soak for 20 minutes in the cooking water.

While it’s soaking, saute 1/2 large or 1 small diced sweet onion and the white portion of one leek, sliced, the slices halved, the halves quartered if the leek is large, in canola oil until the onion clarifies. Add sea salt or Trocamare and cracked black pepper to taste. Add a splash of veggie stock or broth as needed to prevent sticking. Add diced mushrooms, any combination: oyster, maitake, shiitake, button, cremini, portabello, etc. Add more veggie stock and/or a drizzle of toasted sesame oil as the mushrooms cook down.

When the saute has cooked down, pour it into the rice mixture, stirring well, then cook the rice as usual. Yum! It’s so simple, but so good. Try it, and you’ll be able to say sayonara to white rice and konnichiwa to better nutrition and better health.

Yow! I almost forgot. This makes a big pot of rice. I like to make a pot and use it all week (I’ll reheat what we need for each meal in our convection toaster oven, drizzling a little veggie stock or broth on top to keep the top from drying out). It’s ample for four hungry adults for a curry or stir-fry or base for Chinese food, or for a family of four plus extras for lunch, or for several meals for a couple. And note that, to make fried rice, all you need to do is saute veggies and tofu (or the meat of your choice) with shoyu (or your choice of tamari or soy sauce) and toss in the leftover rice, stir just ’til hot, voila! 

             ‘Til next time,




1. h.ibrahim - March 29, 2012

My list of what to get is growing—-sweet brown rice, hemp seed and black sesame and chia seeds.

Ha! No need to go overboard!

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