the 411 on rice and grains
August 29, 2011 § Leave a comment
I decided to dedicate a whole segment on just rice and grains because there are so many varieties and different ways to incorporate it in every day cooking.
I have two rice containers: one for white rice and the other for mixed grains. I keep all beans in their own bags. The mixed grains I use are pictured below. My ratios of each vary, depending on what bags of grains I have available for mixing, but I generally abide by a few rules, some out of practicality and others by necessity. This is the mix in my container—everything is eye-balled….the measurements are only a ROUGH, general guideline I use:
- Brown rice should double the amount of all grains combined
- Barley should be about 1/2 of regular brown rice (or the mix)
- Sweet brown rice should be about 1/4 of regular brown rice (or the mix)
- Black rice is splashed into the mix—about 1/4 of regular brown rice (or the mix)
- one bag of the 15-grain mix thrown in for good measure
Sometimes I make plain, white rice and other times I make mixed rice (1:1 or 1:2 or 1:3 ratio of white rice to mixed grains), depending on how much time I have to cook the rice. I also add beans to our rice—black beans, soybeans or red beans are always on hand—about 1/4 cup per one cup of white rice and less when I use mixed grains. When making plain white rice, peas can also be added for some color.
Rice is first rinsed with tap water about 2-3 times, using a little bit of water each time (maybe ~1 inch or less above the rice line). Then filtered water is used thereafter.
- When rinsing white rice, I rinse it until the water becomes clear. This is to make the rice fluffier (and therefore, tastier) since a lot of the starch is drained (plus, who wants the extra calories from starch?!!).
- When rinsing mixed rice (white rice + grains), I rinse it until some of the cloudiness is gone.
When making certain types of stews, the rice water is saved (kinda like using pasta water when cooking pasta sauce). This is very important and will be revisited in another post.
MAKE OR BREAK INGREDIENT: WATER!
Forget about being healthy by adding mixed grains—-if you don’t have the correct amount of water, then the rice will taste horrible. I have a very mathematical way to measure water that the spouse taught me a long time ago and it has served me well. I use my hand to measure the level of the water: with plain, white rice, the level should be right around the start of my knuckles and with mixed rice, a little more water is needed. The general rule of thumb is to use more water for more grains. The size of the hand does not matter—it has worked for my hands and also the spouse’s. Just be sure you’re not pressing down on the rice—your hand should just be touching the surface. I also swirl the rice around to loosen it up just before measuring the water level.
EXPERT TIP: You can also bite into a raw kernel of white rice to assess the level of dryness. This will also help to determine how much water is needed to cook the rice. I just learned this from my mother-in-law a few months ago, so I haven’t been able to put this to use—-I’m guessing I will know after about 30-40 years of cooking rice.