Thursday, March 22, 2012

Simplest Whole Grain Staple: Rice

When I think about the many, complicated ways to consume whole wheat in a healthy way, I’m quite blown away. Why, to get sprouted wheat bread, one has to sprout the wheat and obtain a good grinder or Vitamix, perhaps prepare a sourdough starter, get a mixer to mix the bread or cake, and finally bake and slice it. It’s quite complicated – there’s a lot of work and technique involved in the many processes to get a healthy loaf of bread on your table.

We Asians have been eating rice for centuries, and really, it can just be very simple to consume whole grains  - cook them like rice. I love rice with everything. I eat a lot of it, and I’d like to show you a quick, no-fuss way, to include wonderful grains like wheat, buckwheat, rye, wild rice, brown rice, corn, and beans, and even kefir and whey into your diet. My family eats this so often, not just because we are health conscious but because as Asians, we LOVE rice.

You can do this in your home. Do you have a campfire? A cookstove? A crock pot? Just a little fire outside your hut? You can do this. It’s really simple. And then this makes good rice suitable to eat with any sort of dish – soup, curry, fried chicken, etc. And it makes the most fantastic fried rice, because it’s fantastic grainy and does not stick (and yet is soft), requiring less oil.
Spicy Fried Rice in a Wok

1)      Dry ingredients
Here in a dark cupboard I have large containers of rice. Brown rice, mostly, but also white rice because it stores well. When you bring your rice home in a sack, store it in the freezer for a couple days, at least 72 hours, to kill the weevil and their babies, especially if you store lots of rice like we do. In Asia, some people can’t eat bread or noodles for a meal – they must have rice. Rice is very important to us.

Next to our staple brown rice I have some jars here of whole grains – rye, black rice, wheat berries, and buckwheat. Red rice, millet, barley, and soaked corn and beans can also go into your rice.

A rice cooker cup is ¾ cup. That’s a portion for two people. Into each ¾ cup I add 2tbsp of any other grain, and then I fill it up to the top with brown rice. Then I throw it into my rice cooker pot. It’s simple to throw together a pot of rice with lots of different grains. My favorite grains to add are organic wheat and organic rye. Black rice colors all other grains purple.

2)      Washing
Now the proportion of water to rice is 2:1. 2 parts liquid, 1 part rice. If your adding beans (of virtually any kind), soak them overnight, rinse and add them as part of the dry mixture. My rice cooker bowl has the exact measurements on the side for the total volume of rice + water, so I only need to follow the markings on the side of the bowl as I wash my rice. That’s good, because if I plan to soak, I really need the markings at the time so that the total amount of liquid absorbed by the rice is fixed.

Wash the rice several times, filling the bowl with water, agitating the water, and draining it out. Remove stones or weevils, if there are any. I then fill the cooker bowl halfway to the top with water, and then add fill up to the mark with yogurt whey, cheese whey, kefir whey, etc. You may want to soak the grains with the measured water and whey for 7-8 hours. It breaks down the phytic acid.

If you don’t have whey, that’s fine. You can use just water up to the proper mark. Later we’ll talk about variations that use different liquids as flavoring.

As I type, the rice is cooking and the whey smells fantastic, and it won’t leave any marked taste, just a faint richness of flavor in the rice.

3)      Cooking
The easiest way to cook rice is in a rice cooker. You can boil it on the stove, cook it on the microwave, etc. You’d have to develop a technique of your own so as not to burn the rice.

A great energy-saving way is with a thermo-cooker or a crock pot. A thermo-cooker is something that keeps food warm like a themos, only for soup and things like that. Bring the rice and water to a boil in the pot, and then place in the thermos for ½ an hour or so. It may take shorter or longer. The grains will come out perfect, only it takes longer than in a rice cooker.

After cooking the rice should be uncovered. Let sit for a while for the steam to escape and the remaining liquid to be absorbed so that the texture is perfect. 

4)      Serve
Your rice will not be hard, not will they stick together. They will have absorbed the liquid perfectly. They may be slightly chewy for one used to very soft white rice, but my family likes it that way. You may need to add more liquid for your family. This goes extremely well with Asian cooking like Chinese, Thai, Japanese, or Indian.

Next post, I will share with you how to make lacto-fermented yogurt Briyani, full of delicious and nourishing spices, and then I will share with you a recipe for Chinese chicken rice, which is extremely tasty and full of beneficial animal fat. I will also share with you how to make spinach and tomato porridge, which is softer than rice, but is  very delicious despite its looks.

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