with Dr. Ben Kim on All Things Rice
Conducted by Josh Day with Dr. Ben Kim
& Beyond editor Josh Day has always had a passion for rice. Turns
out, so does Dr. Ben Kim...
Rice. What's there not to love? Rice is one of my favorite foods.
White rice, that is. You couldn't pay me enough to eat brown rice,
or even have a serving of it dropped in front of me. If you've seen
the movie Sideways and know the main character's reaction to the
wine merlot, that's me with brown rice. Growing up, I was force-fed
overcooked and disgusting brown rice and we never had white rice.
now that's out of my system, let's talk to Dr. Kim about this delicious
exactly is rice, and what are the health benefits?
Kim: Thanks for the interview, Josh. I share your appreciation for
rice and the movie Sideways. We have to get together to watch
Sideways someday, and we have to get your dad to watch it
- I'm sure he'll like it.
rice... I think everyone knows that it's a grain, one that's a staple
food for populations all over the world.
I think of rice, I think about how much time and labor are needed
to cultivate it. My grandmother once told me that it's the most
labor-intensive grain to grow, and I remember a professor in chiropractic
school saying that it takes more manual or mechanical energy to
grow rice than it does any other plant food.
Chinese character for rice includes symbols that make up the number
88, which reflects the East Asian saying that a rice farmer has
to complete 88 steps to produce a healthy crop of rice.
benefits of rice... it's a good source of carbohydrates that your
body can use to produce energy, and it comes with a number of micronutrients,
mainly B vitamins. Brown rice also contains some amino acids, iron,
magnesium, and zinc. It's also a good source of fiber.
most people know that white rice is brown rice that's been polished
down to extend shelf life. My understanding is that most nations
require white rice to be fortified with iron and vitamins B1 and
for our website a while back that explains that contrary to popular
belief, white rice isn't a terrible food choice. It's actually easier
for most people to digest than brown rice, and for people who have
weakened digestive systems, like those with ulcerative colitis or
irritable bowel syndrome, white rice is a better choice than brown
rice, at least until they get stronger.
There are all kinds of rice. Dirty rice, Spanish rice, Jasmine rice,
etc. Dr. Kim, what's your favorite kind of rice?
it's a bit of a toss-up between brown rice and calrose white rice.
I grew up eating mainly calrose white rice - for people who don't
know this rice by name, it's the kind that's typically used to make
sushi rolls. We don't usually make calrose white rice at home because
we can really see a difference in bowel heath with the fiber content
of brown rice, especially in our youngest son.
that I enjoy any type of rice as much as I enjoy what's served with
it. Give me a bowl of brown rice and a dollop of guacamole, hummus,
or even salsa, and I love it. Or when I'm super pressed for time,
I add just a splash of soy sauce and sesame oil to a bowl of brown
rice, which fills me up for at least a couple of hours.
to say, there's just something about having a steaming bowl of white
rice with a bowl of hot miso soup and some of my mom's kim chi.
I guess we'll always have our favorite meals from childhood. Ah,
and I also can't get enough of my mom's sushi rolls. When she makes
a big container of them, I can eat them for breakfast, lunch, and
dinner for a few days straight, all with a side of hot soup, usually
miso, seaweed, or radish.
What's the best way to cook rice? I've followed the directions on
the bag and every time the results seem lacking. I've also tried
rinsing the rice under cold water until the water runs clear to
remove the starch. My grandmother cooks her rice uncovered and her
white rice is always fluffy and sticky--it's great. What's the best
way to cook rice on a stovetop? And in your mind, what's the best
way to prepare rice?
sure there are many methods that produce good results. What we do
is use a Japanese rice cooker that we load up with washed rice,
the right amount of water, and then just press a button and wait
on. Having a rice cooker like ours is great because it keeps the
rice warm, so it's ready to eat at any time.
we use white or brown rice, we give it a good rinse at least a couple
of times. My mom is famous for insisting that rice needs to be rinsed
seven times, but I don't think this is necessary - she's a bit of
a clean freak. After the rice is washed, we combine it with one
cup of water for every cup of white rice, or two cups of water for
every cup of brown rice - that's fresh water for cooking. The rice
cooker does the rest.
a stove, we do the same thing to prepare, and we bring the water
to a boil, and as soon as it begins to boil, we put a lid on it
and reduce the heat to low. You want it to cook at a low temperature,
but you also want to make sure that the heat is high enough to keep
the cooking going. When you can see that just about all of the water
has been absorbed into the rice and the rice is done, it's best
to keep the covered pot off to the side for at least 5 minutes.
I don't know what this is called in English, but giving it some
time to rest is considered a must in Korean culture.
to mention, it's best to soak white or brown rice (after it's been
rinsed) in water for a few hours before cooking. With brown rice,
we soak overnight, but I think six hours is a good minimum. With
white rice, you can get away with an hour or even half an hour of
soaking time. Soaking really makes a difference in how easy it is
to digest the rice.
Finally, do you have a favorite rice recipe?
a tough one. I guess it would be for a bowl of steamed white rice
that I eat wrapped in fresh lettuce with a generous dollop of a
Korean soy bean paste in each wrap. I wrote this up as a recipe
for our site a few years ago.
Thanks, Dr. Kim!
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