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How to Make Perfect Brown Rice

Photograph by Morena Escardo

In Peru, people are completely obsessed with rice. Just like the French serve everything with baguettes, the Spanish with olives, and Americans with French fries, the Peruvian side dish of choice for pretty much everything is rice. And by this I mean white rice heavily flavored with lots of crushed (or finely chopped) garlic.

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Every cook in Peru has their rice recipe mastered to perfection, and as a Peruvian, born and raised, I've eaten my fair share of rice. But the story changes when they switch to brown rice. When I switched to eating whole grains only, I struggled to get my brown rice recipe right too. The package always says one thing, but when you try it on your own, it hardly ever works. Then you try to make it the way white rice is made — at a very low temperature, with the lid on) — and again, it hardly ever comes out as you would expect. It always seems to remain undercooked or become too mushy, depending on what you do to it.

Most Latin American countries' diets include lots of white rice, but brown rice is a relatively new healthy switch that many families can incorporate.

Another thing you may want to incorporate into your rice cooking routine is to soak it overnight in a bowl of water. It's fine if you don't do this, but doing so will make it more digestible, and its nutrients will be more easily absorbed into your body.

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RECIPE: Simple Brown Rice

Yields 2 1/2 cups cooked rice

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes + overnight if you soak it

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Basmati brown rice
  • 3 cups water + 4 cups for soaking (optional)
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon salt (optional)

Directions

  1. If you want to rip more nutritional benefits from your brown rice, soak it overnight in a bowl with 4 cups of water. Drain and rinse before cooking.
  2. Add the rice to a small pan with 3 cups of water.
  3. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  4. At this point, you may want to add some salt to the boiling water. I usually prefer not to do this, because I use rice leftovers in my breakfast porridges, or to make rice pudding.
  5. Stir once, turn the heat down to medium, and cook for 30 minutes.
  6. Turn the heat off, fluff with a fork, cover the pan, and let the rice sit and absorb any water left for 10 minutes.
Photograph by Morena Escardo

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