Enhance nutrition while adding flavor
Posted December 15, 2009
Traditionally, grains have been soaked, sprouted or fermented before eaten. Sprouted organic brown rice, known as hatsuga genmai in Japanese, is brown rice that is allowed to germinate by soaking the rice before cooking. It tastes sweeter and the process of germination enhances the bio-availability of nutrients by neutralizing phytic acid, the enzyme inhibitor in all grains, seeds and beans that bind nutrients within the grain until the conditions are right for it to sprout. Consumption of unsprouted grains can lead to poor absorption of grain nutrients. Poorly digested grains often irritate the intestines, leading to inflammation and allergic reactions. Neutralizing the phytic acid releases the protein, vitamins and enzymes in rice allowing them to be absorbed during digestion.
Some people, though not many, eat the sprouted rice with little cooking. Sprouting directions vary depending on the kind of brown rice used and personal tastes. Short, medium grain brown rice, also brown basmati (but not Texmati) rice will sprout. White rice or wild rice are dead and won't sprout. Standard long grain rice doesn't sprout. Soaking time may vary from 12 to 48 yours. Some people sprout the rice until they see a small green shoot, others soak the rice in water overnight or for 12 hours, then sprout it for 12 hours and cook the softened grain without the green sprout. Longer soaking may result in a sour taste.
Thanks to a number of recent scientific studies done on gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a naturally occurring amino acid created during the germination process, sprouting rice has again become fashionable in Japan. The consumption of GABA is credited with important health benefits that range from lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, boosting the immune system, improving sleep, and inhibition of cancer cells. So it makes good sense to soak and sprout your rice and it is easy to do. Any kind of brown rice will work. White rice won't work because the part of the rice that germinates has been removed. Here is the process:
- Rinse 1 1/2 cups (or more if desired) brown rice several times until the water is clear.
- Place the rice in a bowl and cover well with filtered water.
- Let stand 12 hours or overnight.
- Pour rice into a strainer and rinse well.
- Set the strainer over a bowl to drain out of direct sunlight. Cover with a clean dishtowel. Or use a sprouting jar, which can be made with any large mouth glass jar covered with cheesecloth secured with a rubber band. Place the jar on its side inside a kitchen cabinet away from light.
- Every 12 hours, rinse the rice well with cool fresh water.
- After 24 to 48 hours, small sprouts will appear. Use or refrigerate the rice until ready to use.
- Cook as you would cook unsprouted brown rice, using slightly less water (for the 1 1/2 cups of rice in this recipe, use 2 cups water). The cooking time will also be shorter.
Sprouted brown rice has a pleasant nutty taste, and is less heavy and noticeably more digestible compared to unsprouted rice.
Cooking the rice
Never heat oils to smoking because the fumes are carcinogenic. To your sprouted rice and water, add 1 tsp. of oil and your favorite spices and simmer the rice in a covered ceramic-coated pot. After the rice is done, remove it from the heat and toss it lightly with a fork.
I like adding turmeric, cumin seeds, nutmeg powder, a bay leaf, black pepper, and cardamom. Turmeric and cumin are cooling and digestive. Turmeric has antibiotic properties and enhances digestive fluora. Cumin is useful for reducing stomach irritation. For stronger digestive power to reduce bloating discomforts, add a dash of asafoetida. Some recent Chinese research suggests that asafoetida (also known as “devil’s dung”) may even have HIV-inhibiting effects.
In Ayurveda, turmeric and cumin reduce excess Pitta. Nutmeg, pepper, and bay leaf reduce Vata because they are warming and help quiet nervousness and reduce digestive bloating and gas. Cardamom, which is warming sweet and stimulating for the heart and digestion adds a sparkling flavor.
After the rice is cooked, I might add slices almonds, raisins, and some diced dried fruit or chopped lightly steamed vegetables. It makes a nice meal along with a vegetable curry, some cucumber yogurt and chapatis.
Letha Hadady, alternative health expert and author, leads walking tours of Asian food and herb markets through New York Open Center. She is the author of many personal transformation books, including Feed Your Tiger: The Asian Diet Secret for Permanent Weight Loss and Vibrant Health. She is widely acknowledged as a top expert on natural health and beauty. Her website is AsianHealthSecrets.com.