Brown rice paella

I promised to prepare a Spanish paella for some friends but one of them can only have brown rice... how do you cook paella using brown rice instead of the usual bomba variety?

Nutritionists and diet expert always encourage us to employ brown rice for all dishes. Brown rice is healthier than the traditional white rice – contains much higher amounts of B vitamins, usually found in the outer layers of the cereal berries – only it takes a good deal longer to cook.

Brown rice paella

There are several ways to make brown rice paella depending on the pan used to prepare the dish. Assuming you have your favorite paella recipe at hand, you could choose a traditional paella pan or paellera, a pan with thick bottom or a pressure cooker.

Traditional paella pan – There are two options.

  1. Cook rice for 30 minutes in water – add salt – drain and use it in your recipe as if it was white rice, adding it to the pan after preparing your sofrito and adding twice water than rice in volume –add 2 cups water each cup of rice.
  2. Prepare your recipe as usual substituting white rice with brown rice. Have boiling water ready and keep adding it as required until the rice has cooked for 45 minutes –it will require 3-4 times volume of water than rice.

Thick bottom pan – If you have a pan with a thick bottom, of the kind that is good diffusers for heat. Pre-cook the meat or seafood in the recipe; prepare your sofrito, adding the rice and about 3 times the same volume of water. Take it to the boil; reduce heat to minimum, and cover. The rice will cook slowly over 45 minutes and you won’t have to add hot water continuously. The amount of water to add depends on the characteristics of the pan. Watch out as rice tends to foam and boil over the pan when covered.

Pressure cooker – A pressure cooker reduces cooking time by half. Good if you are in a hurry.

  1. Follow your recipe as usual but using the pressure cooker instead of the paella pan. Add brown rice and twice the volume of water than rice. Lock the lid in place, bring to high pressure over high heat, adjust heat to maintain pressure and cook for 15 minutes and release steam naturally, or for 20-22 minutes and quick-release the steam.
  2. A second option for pressure-cooking your brown rice paella is to proceed as in the one, adding the brown rice and twice the water, but cooking on high pressure for 5-7 minutes and turn off the heat. Let it stand for a minimum 2 hours – more standing time is no problem. The rice will cook on the residual heat without becoming sticky or overcooked. This is not exactly speed cooking, the advantage, however, is one can cook in the morning before leaving home and the meal will be ready when returning in the afternoon, a case of preparing ahead and succeeding.

Note – Wash brown rice before cooking, under running water or swirling in a bowl. It tends to have more dust than white rice – though washing white rice is also recommended.

We hope this tips will help to cook a perfect brown rice paella and find for yourself how delicious and healthy it can be. Although, sorry to say, most people still prefer the traditional white rice.