As far as gluten-free grains go, rice is probably the most well-known. Rice is so prized as food that some languages use the words “to eat rice” to mean “to eat.” In other cultures, there are different words to describe the various states of rice. For example, Indonesians call the raw grains “beras,” the cooked product “nasi,” and the rice-in-broth form “bubur.” Historically, rice has been used to symbolize fertility or prosperity, which is why we sometimes see rice thrown at a wedding ceremony.
The main difference between brown rice and white rice is the amount of processing each type undergoes. Brown rice has only had its outermost layer (called the hull) removed, therefore retaining most of the nutrients (the B vitamins, minerals such as manganese and iron, phosphorus, fiber, and some fatty acids). The various stages of processing white rice is subjected to result in a significant loss of most of these nutrients.
When browsing the shelves, you may see long grain, medium grain, and short grain varieties of brown rice. Longer grain types tend to remain separate and do not stick too much after cooking. They are great in pilafs or salads, where you want the chewiness of the separate grains. Short grain varieties tend to be stickier after cooking, making it a good product to use in something like sushi, where you don’t want the grains to fall out of the roll when eating.
Regardless of the type of brown rice you have purchased, in general they will take longer to cook than regular white rice. Rushing the cooking process results in an undercooked “core,” making the grains hard, starchy, and unappetizing.
How to Cook Brown Rice
Starting Amount: 1/2 cup raw
Pre-Soaking Requirement: No
Pre-Rinsing Requirement: Yes. Put the rice in a colander and rinse under running water. Alternatively, you can put the rice in a bowl, fill it with water, give the water a few good stirs until cloudy, and drain. Repeat a couple more times until the water is clearer.
Cooking Liquid: 1 cup water (you can use broth, if preferred)
Cooking Time: Simmer covered, undisturbed on the stove for 45 to 50 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit (with cover on) for another 10 minutes to finish. Remove cover and fluff with a fork.
Resulting Yield: 1 1/4 cups cooked
Nutritional Information (1/2 cup cooked brown rice):
- Calories: 108 kcal
- Carbohydrates: 22.4 g
- Protein: 2.5 g
- Fat: 0.9 g
- Fiber: 1.8 g
- Glycemic Index (GI): Low