When you’re cooking brown rice, does it come out mushy or lumpy? When you follow the brown rice instructions, do you get inconsistent results? Despite what everyone on the internet says, there is more than one way to achieve firm but fluffy results when cooking brown rice. All the brown rice instructions on the internet will say their method is the best. Ultimately, it’s up to your own tastes and desires how you like your grains cooked. A perfect method for one person may be unacceptable to another. Understanding HOW the rice cooks will lead you to the results that fit your tastes. This is one of the 7 Skills Chefs Use to Cook Food Consistently.
Brown rice differs from white rice in that it’s less refined. The outer skin or “bran” is left on. It’s like a scuba suit for the rice, making it harder for water to enter. Thus, you must find a way to crack that outer layer, or unzip the scuba suit. Cooking brown rice will generally take you in one of two directions. Either bring the liquid AND the rice together to a boil, OR boil the water first and THEN add the rice. What’s the difference?
The science of cooking behind rice is “gelatinization of starches”. At 150F (65c), starches will begin to absorb liquids and swell. This is how sauces are thickened, and why the water disappears and the rice gets bigger under cooking.
Different rices have different starch contents. Sushi rice is very sticky. Jasmine rice is very fluffy. Once the bran is cracked on brown rice, the starches gelatinize and make them stick together in lumps. You can avoid lumpy rice by adding acids or fats in the cooking. Whether you choose to boil your liquid separately from the rice, or together, you can inhibit gelatinization and stick-factor. If you coat the grains in fat, as in making Risotto, they won’t be as sticky. Try a simple sauté method with butter before adding hot liquid. Acids like rice wine vinegar are often added to sushi rice to reduce sticking and add flavor.
When you’re cooking brown rice, you have the options and the power. Experiment with different methods and decide which is best for your tastes. Brown rice instructions can’t always tell what is unique about your kitchen and cooking style. Your tastes should be reflected when cooking brown rice. Which method works best for you? Or have you invented a new way of cooking brown rice? Share your new ideas with everyone by commenting below: