30 September 2007

Whole grains, it bears repeating, are tasty and nutritious. They cook easily, but many take a fair amount of time. Whole grains are processed and sold dried: before eating, they must be boiled in (potentially salted or flavored) water. Most grains should be combined with a prescribed amount of water in a pot with a well-fitting lid, brought to a boil, and simmered covered for a prescribed amount of time. Length of time is determined by the grain; amount of water should be just enough to have almost entirely evaporated off / been soaked up in that amount of time. If your pot does not have a well-fitting lid, you'll need to use more water. Some cooks prefer to soak their grains overnight, as this reduces cooking time. If you use too much water, boil uncovered for the last few minutes to evaporate off the excess. Do not stir your grains unless you want to develop the starches into a mushy mix. Grains hold their heat covered exceedingly well. To make a better seel,

What follows is a first-approximation of how much water and for how long for different grains. For details on grains' nutrition and substitutions, I refer you to The Cook's Thesaurus. For continual updates, check here.

Grain Type
Amount of Water per cup grain
Cooking Time
10 minutes
Corn can be steamed or boiled (or grilled or microwaved).
Oats, rolled
1, and add more if starts to burn
5 minutes, stirring (uncovered), or until desired consistency
A traditional breakfast cereal, cooked as a mush. I suggest cooking with raisins, a stick of cinnamon, and some maple syrup. Rolled oats have been steamed once, so cooks fast.
10 minutes
Very fast, high protein. Rinsing first will reduce the slightly bitter flavor.
Rice, brown
20 minutes, plus 30 minutes with heat turned off
Do not remove lid during the entire process. Just turn off the heat and let the rice continue to cook in the steam in the pot.
Rice, white, Persian style
2, or enough to cover by 2 inches
10 minutes uncovered, then 45 minutes covered
Boil rice, then drain, rinse in cold water, and drain again. Melt in a large saucepan 1 Tbsp butter per cup uncooked rice, and add rice and stir once to coat well. Cover and steam over very low heat. Bottom should be crispy and golden when done.
Wheat, berry
1 hour
Good pasta substitute, especially with tomato sauce. Given the time involved in cooking, many suggest soaking first, or slow-cooking overnight. I haven't tried these techniques.
Wheat, bulgur
7 minutes, plus 15 minutes with heat turned off
Do not remove lid during the entire process. Just turn off the heat and let the wheat continue to cook in the steam in the pot. Bulgur has been steel-cut, soaked, and baked, so cooks fast. For a tasty pilaf, sauté thin-sliced onion with two-inch pieces of vermicelli, then add bulgur.

1 comment:

Theo said...

A grainy recipe I'm working on:

Summer California Taboleh

Cook quinoa, and let cool. Combine with fresh chopped basil, tomatoes, and cucumber (and, if you can eat it, chives or green onions). Mix olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and, if you're anyone other than me, minced garlic, and pour over salad. Refrigerate.