How can I learn to like brown rice?
February 10, 2005 12:10 PM   Subscribe

I have never liked the taste of brown rice, but I would like to try to develop a taste for it, since it is so good for you. Is there something that I can add to the rice to make it taste different (and possibly better?) Other suggestions for cooking or preparing the rice, besides the standard are appreciated.
posted by lilboo to Food & Drink (31 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have always believed that the key to good rice is to cook it in chicken stock rather than water. Homemade if you can, low sodium from a can if you cannot. Also, brown it in a pan in butter for a few minutes before putting it in water. The difference in flavor will blow your mind.
posted by spicynuts at 12:11 PM on February 10, 2005

Best answer: I found it's one of those things that get easier to eat with time and practise. What worked for me was drenching it in very intense and tasty sauces. Curries of the North Indian and Thai varieties worked well. Now I can eat it with pretty much anything.
posted by sid at 12:12 PM on February 10, 2005

What about trying brown basmati rice? I don't like plain old brown rice either (it never seems to turn out right when I make it) but I love brown basmati. I usually buy it in bulk at my local natural foods store.
posted by sanitycheck at 12:16 PM on February 10, 2005

Best answer: Brown rice is also okay in a porridge type dish, but you obviously won't get the delicious mucousy treat that is congee.
posted by sid at 12:21 PM on February 10, 2005

Try different seasoning combinations, as sid wisely suggests, or cooking in chicken broth, as spicynuts says; cumin is a good, earthy flavor which underlies many great flavor schema. Also, that inimitable nuttiness of brown rice goes quite well with many other dishes, and perhaps pairing it with some lentils or beans will make it a bit more palatable. You still get the benefits if you have it with other foods, natch.

Also, while I do love chicken stock, any sort of bouillion or stock will drastically excite any rice dish. Vegetable and beef are both good. Personally, I like to cook a big pot of brown rice every once in a while and put most in the fridge, then throw some into any dish which can use some extra substance.

Good egg, getting on the BR wagon.
posted by clockzero at 12:30 PM on February 10, 2005

I was a long-time rice hater until I tried basmati rice. Yum!
posted by agropyron at 12:31 PM on February 10, 2005

You might try brown rice/wild rice mixes -- I find them tasty. (Preemptive nitpicking: wild rice is really a grass not a rice.) As for cooking, my life got easier and my rice consumption went up when I gave up on cooking it in pots and just got a rice cooker.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 12:34 PM on February 10, 2005

Saute some onion in butter before adding the rice and water. Add the rice before the water and swirl it around a little in the butter.
posted by kenko at 12:41 PM on February 10, 2005

The onion and butter is a good idea, but also make sure to add salt! Even if you're just cooking plain old regular rice, salt will always make it taste better.

Mixing in freshly chopped herbs (i.e. parsley) or maybe a bit of green onion will also help liven it up without adding calories. You could do a very quick knock-off on fried rice with some green onion and maybe a handful of sprouts or some egg.
posted by handful of rain at 12:46 PM on February 10, 2005

Oh I will second cumin. Cumin is a gift from the gods, especially if it is fresh. You can get some bad ass cumin at a good indian grocery. I usually throw a half teaspoon in my rice cooker. Also, there is this seaweed/salt/spice stuff that my Taiwanese friend always puts on her rice. I think you can get it in Asian groceries..I don't know what it's called but it gives rice a nice oceanic flavor.
posted by spicynuts at 12:52 PM on February 10, 2005

Just before you serve it squeeze half a lime over it - totally perks it up.
posted by john-paul at 1:02 PM on February 10, 2005

one word: curcuma
posted by matteo at 1:05 PM on February 10, 2005

I like to add three or four peeled and halved cloves of garlic to my short grain brown rice. The garlic flavor is subtle and sweet, and the cloves get all mushy and spreadable. Yum. And I second the addition of green onion.
posted by Specklet at 1:13 PM on February 10, 2005

I like to use rice to make cold deli-type salads. For instance, I'll make one batch of rice (1 cup dry), cook it, and let it cool. Then I'll add 1 red onion, chopped small; a few stalks of celery, chopped small; a couple carrots, chopped small; some green and red peppers also - you guessed it - chopped small; some capers, some fresh dill, some fresh lemon juice and lemon rind OR a splash of cider vinegar, and a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix it all together and let it sit in the fridge overnight, then take it for lunch. It's good on top of some mixed salad greens. Transformative.
posted by Miko at 1:18 PM on February 10, 2005

Rebecca Blood has a brown rice risotto recipe that I love. It's part arborio and part brown rice but it's increadibly tasty and pretty easy to substitute your own particular flavors. I like saffron and chicken in mine.
posted by jessamyn at 1:38 PM on February 10, 2005

Mix it with white rice and average out the cooking time to get used to the flavor/extra chewiness.

The seaweed/salt/spice stuff is furikake and may be the greatest culinary invention ever. Awesome on fried eggs.
posted by casarkos at 1:38 PM on February 10, 2005

Cooks Illustrated had a nice recipe for cooking brown rice in the oven a few issues ago. There's nothing fancy to it, but it prevents the mushiness factor, and if you're using good basmati rice, the flavor is - well, good if you like brown rice, unobjectionable if you don't. I don't want to post a copyrighted recipe here, but I can email you the recipe if you'd like.
posted by bibliowench at 1:42 PM on February 10, 2005

the trick to good rice, in my limited experience, is getting the right ratio of water to rice. so always buy the same rice, always mesaure using the same implements, always cook on the same heat, and be systematic about varying ratios until you know the right balance so that it finishes cooked and dry.

measure your rice and water, bring to the boil, then leave to simmer until done (with a lid on always). for simmering it's useful to have a flame spreader doodah (the thing you can use for toasting bread on a gas ring).

also, adding a stock cube helps, as does frying some onions in the pan first (and leaving them in when you cook/eat the rice).
posted by andrew cooke at 1:52 PM on February 10, 2005

A rice cooker is a really handy thing to have especially for brown rice, which can be really hard to get right otherwise.

The Joy of Cooking has a nice baked brown rice and mushroom recipe that's easy and very tasty. According to them, the trick to brown rice is not stirring it ever.
posted by jennyb at 1:59 PM on February 10, 2005

Bragg's Liquid Aminos!
posted by fingers_of_fire at 2:08 PM on February 10, 2005

Derail: Can someone explain to me why I need to buy Bragg's when I already have all manner of soy sauces?
posted by sid at 2:34 PM on February 10, 2005

Best answer: Some things about brown rice:

1) once you've opened the package, you need to keep it in the refrigerator. Brown rice has oils in it that turn rancid pretty quickly.

2) Stock helps. I like to saute onions and mushrooms in some oil, then add a cup of rice, let it cook for a bit, stirring frequently, then deglaze with a splash of wine vinegar, let that boil off, then add 2 cups of stock or so, bring to a boil, cover, turn down the heat to low, and simmer until the stock is absorbed and the rice is cooked through.
posted by Caviar at 2:38 PM on February 10, 2005

Reiterating suggestions of chicken broth and a rice cooker. Also, if you have an ethnic grocery store near you, try different varieties. I've fallen in love with red cargo rice from my local vienamese supermarket.
posted by estelahe at 3:16 PM on February 10, 2005

I prefer all my rice toasted before cooking; brown rice, most of all.

I "brown" it in an iron skillet in the oven, watching closely. 15 minutes at 325F, with one good stir at the 10 minute point. Stovetop browning works well but i like to be able to putter around in the kitchen while the rice toasts, and stovetop means almost constant stirring.

Roasting/toasting gives the rice a "nutty" flavour.
posted by reflecked at 3:28 PM on February 10, 2005

I'll confirm that Basmati is great. It's got a pleasing nutty flavor that's only increased in the brown form.
posted by abcde at 3:36 PM on February 10, 2005

Best answer: You guys are such a bad influence on me.
posted by Caviar at 3:44 PM on February 10, 2005

i cook brown rice on the stove a little hotter than usual and let it burn just slightly...might be similar to frying the rice before cooking as mentioned above.....kind of a fried, maybe nutty flavor
posted by jacobsee at 5:14 PM on February 10, 2005

I like my rice mushy/sticking together. I don't like it all when each grain is separate. I switched to brown rice a couple of months ago...I'm still not a huge fan by itself, but almost everything I cook is a stir fry of some sort with a sauce (mostly soy-based sauces) and I find that once you mix the sauce into the rice you really can't tell the difference.

I also cook the rice in chicken stock sometimes...when I want something really special I throw in a packet of Lipton Cup o'soup (Chicken noodle-- the noodles are so negligible you'll never see them in the rice). I don't know why, but this really does seem to be the yummiest chicken-broth for cooking ...well I might know why...All the other chicken stock I have is low-sodium and the Lipton stuff is pure salt.
posted by duck at 6:30 PM on February 10, 2005

1) once you've opened the package, you need to keep it in the refrigerator. Brown rice has oils in it that turn rancid pretty quickly.

wow, really?
posted by clockzero at 7:56 PM on February 10, 2005

Yes, it's true.

I can certainly tell the difference between brown rice that's been well cared for and stuff that's been sitting out for a while.

I can't really point to a good reference for this online (although there are many - search for "brown rice rancid") - for information like this, I really rely on Harold McGee. On Food and Cooking is a staggeringly comprehensive food reference, and it's just been updated. It's fascinating reading.
posted by Caviar at 8:43 PM on February 10, 2005

While rice is cooking (see good advice above), saute garlic & onions. When rice is almost done (just tender), drain well & pour it over the saute; stir fry until slightly browned.
Add lots of tarragon.
Optional - scramble a free-range egg into the saute!
posted by Charles the Friend at 5:10 AM on February 11, 2005

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