Raise your hand if you dislike brown rice and love white
rice but know that white rice isn’t the healthiest thing to eat all the time. If
you did, we are members of the same club. I’ve tried to like brown rice but
it’s too heavy for most Asian foods and takes so long to cook.
ago, I discovered Japanese short-grain rice that was partially milled. It was
at Nijiya market, a small chain based in California that organically grows its
own rice in California. And, you could buy it at 100, 75, 50, 25 and 0 percent.
The 100 percent is white rice and 0 percent is brown. (The Nijiya online store doesn't carry a full selection.)
I bought the 50 percent Akitakomachi rice and found that it cooked up at the
same rate as regular white rice. Amazing and with half of the bran intact, the rice retained some of the healthy aspects of
brown rice. I wanted to call it brown rice but my husband coined the term “beige
rice.” The rice was delicious – separate fluffy grains with a faint earthy sweetness.
We found ourselves eating more rice than we normally did. It was better for us, no?
Why did it take so long for me to share this? It’s because I
thought that it was rice that could only be found at Nijiya market. Unless an
Asian ingredient is more or less widely distributed, I’m reluctant to
recommended to you. It would be a terrible tease.
But I had a revelation when I was in Tokyo in 2010 doing
research for the tofu book. One day, Japanese food authority Elizabeth Andoh
took me boutique food shopping at Takashimaya. Turns out that in Japan — get
this – you can buy unmilled rice and specify to the vendor how much bran you
want removed! The vendor dials your request into a milling machine and you get
customized rice on the spot. I was floored and came back to the U.S. thinking that
Nijiya beige rice was an extra special Japanese experience to have in America.
That all changed late last year. Studying the rice area at a
Chinese market in San Jose, I realized that there was partially milled beige
rice. I just never spent enough time deciphering the Japanese rice bags to
identify the stuff. I decided to try Sun
Valley Rice’s “Gen Ji Mai” rice, a medium-grain rice that promised more
nutrients than white rice.
There was also Sukoyaka brand, among others, but the Sun
Valley was on sale. Labeled “brown rice,” the bags can easily be dismissed as
regular brown rice. They’re not. You’ll notice that these rice are more
expensive than regular white and brown rice. My on-sale price was $14 for 15
pounds. The Nijiya market rice is about double that but you’re paying for
organic. You pay a premium for the beige rice.
There are packaging claims that the rice contains outrageous
amounts of nutrients not found in white rice. I am not sure if I feel that much
impact but it’s a great, more fiber packed alternative to white rice. As a side
note, when we do make white rice, it tastes extra extra good.
How do you cook beige
rice? In my limited experience, I’ve found that beige rice cooks up with
the same amount of water and in the same amount of time as white rice. That
said, for stove-top cooking:
- short-grain beige rice: 1 cup raw rice: 1 cup
plus 2 tablespoons water
- medium-grain beige rice: 1 cup raw rice: 1 1/4
If the rice is “new crop” back off the water by about a
tablespoon. The cooking process remains the same. (See “How
to Cook Perfect Rice” for guidance.)
Where to buy beige rice? I found mine at Lion Market and
imagine that it’s sold at Ranch 99 as well. Japanese markets, such as Mitsuwa,
Nijiya and Marukai will have it. Korean markets like H-Mart probably stock it
but I never noticed. It’s also sold online but it’s a little weird to buy rice
from Amazon. Watch the shipping costs.
If you already know
about this rice, what do you think of it? If you’re new to beige rice, check it