11.10.2018

Brown Rice vs. White Rice

The other day I watched a science-based YouTube video on the debate over brown and white rices. The host stated that “this will settle it once and for all.”

But it didn’t, at least not in my mind.

Yes, brown rice has more fiber and an extra bit of this vitamin or that. No news there. But it also has more cyanide than white rice. Honestly, I am not concerned about the cyanide – such trace amounts.

No, to me, brown rice just doesn’t taste as good as white. It never has. Sure, if you douse it with any number of sauces or dressings, it is palatable... but plain? No thanks...

I wanted to like brown rice more than its white counterpart ever since college when I first tasted it at the Coop. I wanted to be cool, “in,” and healthy. But it was bland and flavorless, tediously chewy and unfailingly rubbery; it lacked... well, everything.

I don’t mean to spark a controversy. It is - once again - just one of those instances when our individual tastebuds guide us. It’s not about right or wrong, simply what works on each person’s palate.

All that said, I have recently discovered, thanks to our friends Lynn and Lee, that I actually prefer brown rice noodles over the white. Go figure!

They have flavor that is lacking in white rice noodles, and a beautiful color. Lynn made a great stir-fry the other night to accompany some grilled ribs. I loved it and, with the bag of noodles she gave me, took what she did and made a full meal of it.

It’s simple, flavorful, and perhaps healthier thanks to those brown rice noodles!

~ David

Pork, Mushroom, and Bok Choy Stir-fry

3/4 pound brown rice noodles
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
2 small shallots, peeled and sliced
1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and thinly sliced
freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces shiitake mushroom caps, sliced
4 ounces oyster mushrooms, sliced
a 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
5 baby boy choy, heaved lengthwise and sliced
1/3 cup kecap manis
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar or lime juice
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, lightly toasted

Break the rice noodles in half. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the rice noodles, and cook for 4 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

In a large, nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and sauté until beginning to soften. Add the pork to the shallots, season liberally with black pepper, and cook until both sides are lightly browned. Remove pork and shallots; place in a bowl and set aside.

Add remaining oil to the pan and, when hot, add the mushrooms and ginger. Cook until mushrooms are softened and ginger is very fragrant. Add the bok choy and stir well and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in the pork and shallots, then add the kecap manis and vinegar or lime juice. Mix well, then stir in the noodles and cook, covered, for 3-5 minutes.

Divide among 4 bowls, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve.

Serves 4.

36 comments:

  1. I don’t think I’ve ever had brown rice noodles — now, I’ll put them on my radar as this looks terrific! I love baby bok choy. As for the brown vs white rice, I’d like to explore that further over a bowl of my brown rice!

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    1. Thanks, Susan. You definitely need to check out the brown rice noodles. They are a revelation! But there’s no way you can convince me the brown rice is better than basmati or jasmine rice. ;)

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  2. Very interesting, David! Like you I'm definitely on Team White Rice and for all the same reasons. But if you like these noodles, then I'd say they're definitely worth a try. And as a bonus we get to feel virtuous, too. ;-)

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    1. It’s fun feeling virtuous, isn’t it? Frank, I can’t belieb how good the brown rice noodles were... and I wish they were more readily available!

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  3. For once we entirely differ :) ! I use rice 3-4 days a week and make stir fries as many times, and that for decades. The very only time I use white rice is for risottos - both for health and taste it is always brown or black. My body and tastebuds love fibre :)! Am literally never without baby bok choi but must admit to less kecap. Oh, add a few enoki and shimeji mushrooms at the end . . . but lovely variant I shall try !! Brown noodles: I use Asian buckwheat ones almost always.

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    1. Eha - I absolutely love black rice, but brown rice always tastes weak and watery to me. I wish I could pinpoint what it is that I don’t like! Now, as I said on Instagram, I also love soba noodles much more than udon noodles. So I am basically a study in contradiction, eh?

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  4. We are a divided family in our household. I prefer brown rice and my hubby only likes white rice. Your brown rice noodles look fantastic. I don’t have kecap manis. What is it and what can I substitute if I want to make this dish.

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    1. Gerlinde _ I trust David will forgive my rudeness: Kecap manis is Indonesian sweet soy sauce: I am certain it is available at every one of your supermarkets as it is here in Australia. We buy buckets of it every year :) ! If you cannot find: 1/2 ordinary soy + 1/2 brown or palm sugar and a tad of molasses and simply boil up!

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    2. I agree with Eha - you should get some kecap manis or make a faux version using her method. I did something similar before finding it in the stores. Knowing American grocery stores, you won’t be able to find kecap manis. However, almost every Asian grocery will have it!

      As for the battle? Lucky for me, Markipedia doesn’t really care so I win with the basmati or jasmine!

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  5. We eat a lot of rice noodles over here since my oldest has Celiac. Never tried the brown. Now I will! Loving all of the flavors in this too. Yum!

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    1. It is really hard to use the white rice noodles now that I have found the brown! I hope you can find them, Valentina!

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  6. Brown gets my vote. Do you deliver?

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  7. Yes, I much prefer the brown rice noodles, too. Daughter does not like brown rice, rice, but hubby and I do because we know that is it better for us.
    We eat a lot of rice and beans, too, because we don't eat animal products. Just the same, I think your recipe looks and sounds delicious! I CAN remember the days of eating meat but just cannot go back to it.

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    1. Thanks, dear Caterina - I truly appreciate every comment you leave, especially when it is not a vegetarian recipe! (This one is so easy to make vegetarian, though!) After my research, I decided the difference between white and brown was so minimal that I didn't have to worry. I am just going by my personal taste - and sometimes it comes out brown, sometimes white! :)

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  8. Frankly, while I was attending Macrobiotic food seminars, I fell in love with brown rice perhaps because our instructors were so perfectly skilled in combining the spices and sauces with healthy food that we couldn't resist to whatever they made.
    Nowadays, we combine little bit of everything at our home and enjoy exploring new tastes so everything is possible in our kitchen :-). Your post reminds me of the lessons we had back then I really find it inviting very much.Thank you dear David !

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    1. Well, my dear, I am a long way away from falling in love with brown rice - and I do like it, just don't prefer it! Maybe I need for you to come and cook me a meal with brown rice? :)

      Kitchen exploration is the best, isn't it? I am so glad we have become friends - so much we can learn from one another!

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  9. We're on the same page here. I can eat brown rice if I must, but what's the point. Now, with that said, brown rice noodles intrigue me. And, your stir fry sounds scrumptious, right up my ally. A trip to my local Asian market is now scheduled for the coming days. Speaking of being hip, did you ever try brown rice sushi. Not for this guy.

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    1. Brown rice sushi? You’ve got to be kidding me?! I had no idea there was such a thing, and I would probably avoid it at all cost. There are some things that are simply wrong! I’m glad we agree on the white rice, Ron. But these brown rice noodles are pretty terrific… I hope you can find some.

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  10. Ever since the 1960s when the health food movement started to kick in, I felt guilty if I didn't eat anything that wasn't brown in color, including brown rice. Good to hear that white rice is now considered to be 'in' now!

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    1. Fran - I tried to like brown rice in the 60s, 70s, and 80s... but then gave up. It just doesn't suit my palate. I don't actively dislike it - would definitely eat it if it was served, and would probably enjoy it - but love my basmati and jasmine rices!

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  11. It looks insanely good! I love these delicat vermicelli, they are so thin!

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    1. Merci , Romain! Les nouilles sont incroyable avec la sauce!

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  12. I have to agree with you that it depends what the rice is served with. Brown rice and sushi makes me gag. Brown rice with stir-fried veggies I prefer to while rice. Brown rice noodles are new to me. Thanks GREG

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    1. The idea of brown rice sushi - who thought of that? Maybe I will try some brown rice in a stir fry...

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  13. This looks so delicious, my friend. I'm a bit under the weather today and would love this for dinner tonight! xo

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    1. Sorry to hear you aren't up to snuff, my dear. This would be just the thing for you! Feel better soon!

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  14. I'm definitely going to try this recipe as you have made it with brown rice noodles, David. Looks fantastic! I feel lucky that rice, white or brown, is one ingredient my whole family agrees on. We just like rice! Although brown rice is certainly chewier, so I tend to cook it longer to soften it up. I probably cook all the health benefits out of it anyway lol :)

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    1. Isn't that the truth about brown rice, Marcelle? The longer we cook anything, the more nutrients go away... It occurred to me - the other thing I don't like about it, is that it goes rancid easily...

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  15. Delicious looking stir fry David! You know I have always been a brown rice gal (all that "natural" stuff) but recently I ran out. So I used some of the white counterpart from my local grower and I LOVED it. I realized that I had been comparing good quality brown rice to poor quality white rice. Alas, now I'm going to have to stock both...

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    1. You have a great point, Inger - in "the day" our choices for white rice were abysmal. Now, we have so many good white rices to chose from - basmati and jasmine are my two favorites. Once, many years ago, friends made us a brown rice risotto. That is a definite :never again" for me!

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  16. I am with you, brown rice is just not as good as white rice, its super chewy and takes forever to cook. As for noodles I like brown and white and the brown ones look perfect in your lovely looking dish.

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    1. hah - I didn't even mention the extra time. Good point, Emma!

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  17. Brown rice noodles? I never have seen these, but will now be on the lookout at my Asian market! I've recently become infatuated with bok choy, probably due to Valentina's amazing roasted recipe for it! I'd LOVE this dish, I'm sure of it!

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    1. Valentina has so many wonderful recipes, especially using vegetables! I hope you find the brown rice noodles!

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