About Basic Cooking Stages of Whole Grains
WASHING (RICE AND OTHER GRAINS)
Nowadays the whole grains you buy packaged or in bulk are clean; that is, they contain no stones, twigs, or other debris. Still, grains should be washed to clean away dust or an occasional leftover bit of chaff and – in the worst scenario – to flush out bugs if there are any. To wash, place the measured amount of grain in a bowel, cover with about three to four inches of tap water, and swirl thoroughly counter clock wise. The swirling will loosen dirt, chaff, and insects if any, all of which will float to the top. Pour off all floating debris including stray grains; catch the rest in a strainer or colander just before it comes tumbling out of the bowel. If the water looks very dirty, repeat the procedure. Stir and rinse as quickly as possible in order to retain the grains natural sweetness, which is reduced by absorption of moisture. Finally, place the rice in a strainer or colander to rinse off any light dust which remains.
This technique cleans more thoroughly than putting your grain in a colander and running it under the tap; using the latter system will not remove all of the dust, chaff nor, of course, the insects if any.
SOAKING (RICE AND OTHER GRAINS)
After washing, soak the rice in the pressure cooker or pot for 2-3 hours or overnight. Do this by placing the rice in the pressure cooker, adding the appropriate amount of cooking water in the recipe, and covering. Soaking makes the rice softer and more digestible. In hot weather, do not soak the rice for too long because it will get mushy. If time does not allow, the rice may be cooked directly after washing and without soaking. Soaking is a good practice to follow and with a little planning, it will be easy to fit it into your schedule.
Pressure cooking is the quickest and most thorough way to prepare whole grains, especially brown rice. When cooked, each grain should be separate and distinct, and the rice should taste sweet. Pressure brings out this natural sweetness, and rice cooked in this way is the most digestible form of grain for daily consumption. Other foods may also be pressure cooked from time to time, especially beans. However, pressure cooking is very energizing, and to create balance in the meal, it is advisable to prepare the other dishes for the meal using other cooking methods. Occasionally, mix vegetables with the grain and pressure cook them together. But for day to day, prepare vegetables separately by boiling, steaming, sautéing, grilling or other methods.
When pressure cooking, be careful not to fill the pot more than half full with grain (or to 70% capacity, including grain and water). Above that amount, the valve may clog and the rice will not cook as it should. On rare occasions, a pot of rice may be forgotten about and left pressure cooking on the stove for several hours. Even in this case, with the new safety model pressure cookers, the lid will not come off. The burnt grains on the bottom will easily come off after soaking for several hours.
Pressure cooking is most appropriate for whole grains, legumes and meat. Vegetables may be pressure cooked in large pieces or sometimes whole. Pressure cooking generally makes a sweeter dish but can create a bitter taste if the vegetables are overcooked.
PRESSURE COOKING GRAINS/RICE (BASIC BROWN RICE)
2 cups organic brown rice
1.1/4 to 1.1/2 cups spring water per cup of rice
Pinch of sea salt per cup of rice
Wash the rice
Place it in a pressure cooker
Add the spring water
If time permits, soak the rice for 2-3 hours or longer
Put the pressure cooker uncovered on the stove
Begin to cook over low heat
When the water begins to bubble (after about 10-15 minutes), add the sea salt
Tighten the cover of the pressure cooker securely, and bring up slowly to full pressure
When pressure is up, put a metal deflector under the pot and turn the heat to low
Cook for 50 minutes
When the rice is done, remove the pressure cooker from the heat and allow it to stand for at least 5 minutes before reducing the pressure and removing the cover. Or, you can wait for the pressure to come down naturally. This wait allows any burnt or scorched grains on the bottom to loosen.
Using a bamboo rice paddle or wooden spoon, lift the rice from the pressure cooker into a large wooden bowl. If the rice is left in the pressure cooker, moisture will condense and cause the grains to expand, producing a wet and often tasteless dish.
Rice pressure cooked in this way will have a delicious, nutty, naturally sweet taste and will impart a very peaceful, strong feeling.
Each cup of uncooked rice makes about three cups of cooked rice. Allow about one cup of cooked rice per person at the table.
Warming up left over rice is best done by placing the rice in a small ceramic bowl or container and set inside a large pot. Add about 1/2 inch of water down the side of the pot, cover and bring to a boil. Be careful not to get water in the bowl with the rice. This method is similar to a double boiler. After the rice has steamed for a few minutes, remove the bowl and serve. This method allows the rice to retain its sweetness and strength without becoming moist or soggy. Left over rice may also be added directly to soups, sautéed with vegetables to make fried rice, cooked into rice porridge, etc.
COOKED GRAINS/RICE (BOILED RICE)
Use a cast iron pot or ceramic vessel with a heavy lid. This extra weight on top helps to exert pressure and bring out the natural sweetness of the grain.
2 cups brown rice
2 cups spring water per cup of rice
Pinch of salt per cup of rice
Wash the rice
Place the rice in the cooking pot
Soak the rice for several hours
Dry roast it for several minutes in a stainless steel frying pan or in the iron pot/ceramic vessel, stir gently with a wooden rice paddle or spoon to prevent burning
After placing the roasted rice in the pot, add the water.
Bring to a bubble, and add the salt just before the water is boiling
Lower the heat, cover with lid and simmer for about 1 hour, or until the water has been absorbed.
Water affects the quality of rice and other foods during cooking. It is important to have a source of clear, clean spring water or high quality filtered water for the least.
Use a pinch of salt (sea salt or rock salt) per cup of rice or other grain to be cooked. A pinch is an average amount held between the thumb and index finger. The taste of the rice after cooking should be neither too salty nor too bland. For a slightly saltier dish, use a three finger pinch. For a less salty dish, half a pinch will suffice.
In pressure cooking and in regular cooking, add the salt after the grain and water have heated up for 10-15 minutes and the water is just beginning to bubble. Add the salt just before the water starts to boil and put the lid on the pressure cooker or pot. If you put the salt earlier, the water warms up too quickly, and the ingredients may cook unevenly on the inside and outside.
As an alternative to salt, one third of an Umeboshi plum may be added for each cup of uncooked rice. For variety, 1/2 teaspoon of Tamari soy sauce may also be used as a substitute for salt.