Thursday, May 29, 2008

Baked Brown Rice

Vegan Baked Brown Rice
Originally uploaded by Marni Molina
I was practically raised on rice. It's got to be one of my father's favorite things to eat, so we had lots of it around. I remember my mother would make huge pots of steamed white rice and feign scorn at my father as he happily helped himself to a full-sized dinner plate mounded with rice. I, on the other hand, would always look forward to having the leftovers for breakfast. My father would prepare a warm rice cereal, of sorts, for breakfast using leftover rice, milk, butter, and sugar. I know it sounds odd, but it was delicious. I vaguely recall my father telling me once that it was a traditional Filipino dish.

Then I met my husband, who is also rather obsessed with rice. He was delighted to discover that I can make a perfect pot of steamed rice. Between my Filipino father and my Mexican husband, I've had lots of practice making rice. Let me tell you, I am the queen of steamed white rice.

Then I became vegan and more aware of healthier alternatives to the things I ate most often. I decided to switch to brown rice as it is a much smarter choice, but the transition was not so smooth. I assumed the two would cook the same but they don't.

I've been struggling with brown rice for the past few months. Once the undisputed Rice Queen, my rice had been frustratingly inconsistent. Initially, it was totally undercooked. Then, burned on the bottom and underdone on top. A few times, I've been able to produce perfect brown rice, but I've never been able to duplicate it with any consistency.

How could I let brown rice, of all things, defeat me? I had begun to think I'd have to hang up my crown.

Apparently, my vegan guides heard my pathetic lamentations and took pity. The other day, I was watching a cooking show all about rice and the host demonstrated what he considered to be the best way to prepare brown rice.

Could it be true? Might I redeem myself and retain my title?

Well, I'm happy to report that I tried the technique and with a slight modification to make it vegan, the results were awesome. So now, fellow rice lovers, I present to you my new favorite way to make kick-ass brown rice, every time.

Baked Brown Rice
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice, medium or short grain
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon vegan "butter" or oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Place the rice into an 8-inch square glass baking dish.
  3. Bring the water, vegan "butter" or oil, and salt to a boil in a kettle or covered saucepan. Once the water boils, pour it over the rice, stir to combine, and cover the dish tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour.
  4. After 1 hour, remove cover and fluff the rice with a fork. Serve immediately.
Not only does this method fill the air with a savory and nutty aroma, it produces perfect rice. And it's super easy. What could be better?

Give it a try!

Also during the episode, I learned that brown rice should be stored in the refrigerator because the oils in the rice can go rancid otherwise. I've always stored mine in the pantry. Who knew?


jessy said...

very cool, Marni! i am going to have to try baking it one day! we do keep our rice in the fridge, but baking it - i've never tried it! usually when i made brown rice i kinda like to "toast" the rice first in the saucepan with the oil it's going to be cooked in - then once it starts to smell like it's toasting i add the water, boil, reduce, cover & cook for 50 minutes. then i let it sit covered for another 10. but it's still a little sticky! so i'm going to try baking it! hooray!

Marni said...

Hey Jessy - I used to toast white rice the same way, but I never tried doing it with brown rice. It's a great way to add some additional flavor. And it smells great. Excellent!