Saturday, February 18, 2017

Rice in the hood

Buying, keeping, and preparing organic brown rice is easy, but it does require some thought.

First, if you are equipped with that most essential kitchen tool, the automatic rice cooker with an GABA brown rice cycle, that will determine what rice you buy. If you are still wondering if you should own such a device, do read my earlier post that I linked to in the previous sentence. The long and short of it is: if you have one of the fancy models with GABA brown rice cycle and a timer, it's better than having your own personal cook - they don't talk back, and they deliver like clockwork, never mind the GABA brown rice cycle takes two and a half hours.

If you do not have such a device, nor a pressure cooker, you might have reason to buy parboiled brown rice, which recently was available in many stores in the neighborhood, including this one at Neerob Bazaar:
Della Parboiled Organic Light Brown Rice (Quick Cooking)

The facts of life are that brown rice is healthier, but it takes longer to cook, and that is an excuse to buy parboiled rice. However, the downside is that it won't keep as long as raw brown rice, and you cannot cook it on the GABA-cycle, so if you do have a pressure cooker, or certainly a good rice cooker, you might want to skip this one and go for the raw (preferably organic) brown rice. Neerob Bazaar offered a good choice here too, from Laxmi brand:
Laxmi raw Brown Basmati Rice

 Basmati rice is always a flaverful choice, and Laxmi is certainly a good brand, however this is not organic rice. For a good organic rice, you need to make the trip to Good 'n Natural, at 2173 White Plains Road. They carry the full line of Lundberg Organic Rice, which is the best rice you can find in America today.

Lundberg Organic California Brown Basmati Rice

Personally, being a household of one, I prefer these 2 lbs packs from Lundberg, or other similar packs, because raw brown rice has limited shelf life.  You can find the best guidance on keeping food on the StillTasty website, and their specific advice for brown rice, here, states clearly that brown rice has a shelf life as follows:
  1. In the pantry, in air-tight containers, 3-6 months.
  2. In the fridge, 6-12 months
  3. In the freezer, 12-18 months
The bottom line is: buy rice according to your usage pattern. Stale rice spoils the fun. Particularly if you're learning how to enjoy food more, which is what happens when you go vegan, the flavor of rice will hit the palate strongly, and life is too short to eat inferior rice.

Aside from this general guidance, there are some interesting rice mixes coming on the market, which are certainly worthwhile if you can find them. In our area you can find some mixed rices in the Lundberg family at Good 'n Natural, but also Chang-Li Market sometimes has interesting options, such as this Healthy Grains Rice from Taiwan, which is mix of raw brown rice, black rice, wheat, pearl barley, millet and buckwheat in a vacuum-sealed 2.6 lb bag:
Healthy Grains Rice Blend at Chang-Li Market
 Other good staple rices are Nishiki brand, which is a regular at Chang-Li, here:
2 Lb packs of Nishiki Brown Rice at Chang-Li Market
Other interesting varieties you can find at Chang-Li are red rice, here:
Red Rice at Chang-Li Market
and black rice - sorry, I forgot to take a picture, but you'll find it in the aisle with Chinese staples. The oriental black rice, also known as forbidden because it once was the reserve of the emperor, is real rice, and it is absolutely delicious. It is very different from American black rice, which you will find in gourmet stores, or in health food stores such as Good 'n Natural, which is a grass variety, and not a proper rice at all. Having said that, it is also delicious, and people often mix about 20% with their rice when they cook it, which adds depth to the flavor of the rice.

Lastly, another interesting rice blend, which I love, is this one:
3-Lb bag of Organic 10 Mixed Grains, from May-Wah on Hester Street, NYC
May-Wah Vegan Market is a good resource to know about for vegetarian or vegan foods, and/or meat alternatives. It is worth a periodic shopping expedition. This particular blend, Organic 10 Mixed Grains, contained Organic Brown Rice, Organic Sweet Brown Rice, Organic Oat Groats, Organic Rye Berry, Organic Barley, Organic Buckwheat Hulled, Organic Millet Hulled, Organic Wehani Rice, Organic Forbidden Rice, Organic Quinoa. It is a delicious alternative to just plain rice.

That's all for this report. Happy rice shopping! And, not to belabor the point, but, there obviously never is a reason to eat white rice in any form, it essentially has very little nutritional value.