What is the best way to cook brown rice?

For the next few posts it’s back to basics. Up first I tackle the seemingly impossible task of cooking brown rice.

Sure, I’ve cooked brown rice many times before, but very few times have I enjoyed the texture. My favourite brown rice has always been the repeatable pouches from the supermarket, but no way am I paying for someone else to cook and vacuum pack my rice.

I decided the only way to get to the bottom of this was to have a side-by-side rice cook-off.

I asked on Facebook whether anyone had a favourite method to share. There were a few votes for rice cookers, a lot of votes for ‘blergh, brown rice’ and a few votes for the pressure cooker method.

For my side by side comparison, all the rice came from the same packet and was rinsed several times before cooking.

Pressure cooker

The pressure cooker has been my favourite method for brown rice cooking as it cuts the time in half.
Rice to Water ratio: 1 cup: 2 cups
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Method: Place rice and water in a pressure cooker. Bring to pressure over a medium heat and cook for 15 minutes.  Release pressure slowly, fluff and serve.

Results:
Nutty and dense. This is what I’ve always thought brown rice tastes like. Not a real fan.

Microwave

My mum swears by cooking her rice in the microwave, for me it’s never quite worked. However, when I saw this video from the Hong Kong Health Department for microwave brown rice, I figured it was worth a shot.

The problem with microwave instructions is that microwaves come in a variety of strengths. Mines a whopping 1100watts which doesn’t make much difference over a few minutes, but over 30 minutes I was a little worried.
Rice to water ratio: 1 cup: 3 cups
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Method: Place washed rice and water in a microwave safe glass dish. Cook on high for 20 minutes, stir and cook for a further 10 minutes.
Results:
Crispy and dried out. This was not edible. Luckily I have a dog who’ll eat almost anything!

Oven

The idea of cooking brown rice in the oven was what started this whole adventure for me. I love cooking basmati rice, oats and quinoa in the oven as I’ve never had it go ‘wrong’. My biggest question with this was getting the rice to water ratio correct. I’d seen various suggestions from 1:2, 1:2.5 and 1:3. I opted for the most water, figuring I could always drain the rice at the end.
Rice to water ratio: 1 cup: 3 cups
Cooking times: 65 minutes (doing time 4 minutes)
Method: Pre-heat oven to 190ºC/375ºF  Bring water to the boil in the kettle. Place the rice in an ovenproof dish with a tight fitting lid (no lid, use foil). Pour the water over the rice, cover and bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and rest, covered for 5 minutes.

Results:
Fluffy, slightly sticky. Soft! All signs of nuttiness gone.

Rice cooker

Due to the number of people suggesting using a rice cooker on Facebook, I figured I’d give it another go. I swear by my rice cooker for basmatti and jasmine rice, brown has always been a bit rubbery.
Rice to water ratio: 1 cup: 2 cups (this seemed to be the popular ratio on Facebook)
Cooking time: about 40 minutes
Method: I placed rinsed rice and filtered tap water in the rice cooker. Switched it on  and had a shower.

Results:
Rubbery and nutty. Very similar to the pressure cooker, but took twice as long.

The winner is….Oven Method!

Taste/texture: fluffy
Equipment: Almost everyone has access to an oven and a ovenproof pot.
Ease of preparation: Set and forget. You could even bake chicken breast and roast sweet potatoes and all your other veggies for the week while this cooks. Too easy!
Time: this is the only problem. Good news is, brown rice freezes really well. Allow to cool and freeze in single serve packages. Steam in a steamer or the microwave for a few minutes to bring back to life.

Bonus cooking tips:

Instead of water, use chicken or vegetable stock.

Kate rice cooking tip: “add ginger slivers, tied pandan leaf and a clove of bruised garlic. Equal amounts of water and coconut milk …. Remove garlic, giner and pandan before serving. Add flaked roast chicken, egg and some fried peanuts. Perfect nasi lemak. *drool*”

How do you cook your rice?