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Better Cooking Through Technology: A Guest Post

Arsenic Leads to Better Way to Cook Brown Rice

Rinsing_rice
Over the past few months, I’ve migrated to a cooking style that really suits my needs. On the weekends, I make a big pot of something—Chili, Coq Au Vin, Tagine, or the like—and I eat it a couple of times that week. I typically get one solid family meal out of it, and then a multitude of lunches. I’ll have more big-pot ideas going forward, as I plan to add to my repertoire.

But first, I want to return to the issue of arsenic in rice, something that hit the news media a few weeks ago, as I often serve those dishes over a starch, typically rice. In light of the reports that rice, especially brown rice, can carry high levels of arsenic, I have changed the way I cook the grain. Apparently, rinsing it first, and then cooking it in an excess of water (the same way one might cook pasta) can reduce the amount of harmful compounds present.

The good news about this new method is that it’s easier, and the rice turns out better. There’s no more measuring, worrying about keeping the heat low, or ending up with a soggy mass at the bottom of the pot. Here’s how I do it:

  • I start by putting a large pot of water, the size I would use to cook pasta, on the stove to boil.
  • I salt the water, a bit less than the amount I would salt it for pasta.
  • I take a given amount of rice, say two cups, and I rinse it a few times before cooking.
  • Once the big pot of water is boiling, I toss in the rice.
  • I bring it back to a boil, and then cover loosely and let simmer on a low heat. I use one of the small burners at the back of my stove; you can experiment with your stove and see what is best for you.
  • About twenty-five minutes later, I use a spoon to check a few grains. I taste them, looking for a soft but not mushy texture. Once I get that, I drain the rice in a strainer, just like making pasta.

I wasn’t happy to learn about the risks associated with eating rice, something I thought was so basic, safe, and healthy that I would never have to worry about it, but I happy that my new method is both better for me and better tasting. If you want more details on the situation with rice and arsenic, this post at CommonHealth is helpful.  

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