Articles / Brown Rice Cereal, Minus the Cereal


Brown Rice Cereal, Minus the Cereal

Published February 20, 2024

A crunchy salad accompaniment, a take on jook, and a (vegan, gluten-free) caramel dessert

Unbelievably Quick Brown Rice “Jook” with Garnishes Galore. All photos: Kerri Conan

As the years have gone by, I’ve come to appreciate Bob’s Red Mill more and more for many reasons, but especially these two: One, they’re getting what were once difficult-to-find whole grains, legumes, and other ingredients (unsweetened coconut, for example), into mainstream American markets. The other has been their willingness to respond to trends in food and to create or find new and innovative products, like well-performing gluten-free flour, or fava and chickpea flours.

My team and I were sad to learn about Bob’s passing on February 10th at the age of 94. Bob was an innovator, and we were lucky to have him in our world, and we’re lucky to know that his legacy will live on — he has a terrific team that believes heartily in his mission.

Because we’re committed to transparency, we wanted to let you know that we’re getting compensated to promote Bob’s. We try to be thoughtful about how we make money, and so we only partner with brands and organizations that we know well and believe in.Bob’sis one of those, and we’re glad to have reasons to promote them. — mb

Wheat. ​Oats​. ​Cornmeal​. ​Hominy grits​. These are the traditional American hot cereal grains. We’re intimately familiar with them, either cooked into porridge or cooked and then cooled, sliced, and cooked again (as with polenta fries, grilled grits, or scrapple). Many of us are also well-acquainted with the white rice porridges known for centuries throughout Asia.

So it has been head-exploding to discover a new alternative: ​brown rice cereal​. It’s like broken rice with benefits. Whole-grain goodness for one; quick-cooking for another. This cereal has got us rethinking techniques, using it instead of white rice, and adding it to places that brown rice has never been before.

These three recipes will give you a taste and hopefully point you toward your own inspirations.

Crunchy Brown Rice Cheese Skirt with Kimchi Salad

You’ve seen cheese ooze out of a sandwich or ​enchilada​ into the pan, right? It bubbles for a few seconds before turning golden and crisp. Sort of like the simplest Italian frico, only we prefer to call it a “cheese skirt.” Now imagine this skirt has a little crunch when you bite down, like a rice cracker.

This surprising technique uses brown rice cereal straight out of the bag, with results that are perfect to eat with a piquant salad, either on the side or crumbled in like croutons. For that matter, brown rice cheese skirts are terrific with soup, scrambled eggs, beans, or steamed vegetables. They’re so easy and stay crunchy in the fridge for days. The only thing is you need a mild, not-too-salty, quick-melting cheese; something between mozzarella and aged cheddar—like Jack—works best.

Unbelievably Quick Brown Rice “Jook” with Garnishes Galore

The universe of mush and porridge is such a comforting one. These warming dishes are usually made by slowly simmering and stirring ground wheat or corn, then topping with sweet or savory foods. (As described in Mark’s recent ​polenta story​, with his revolutionary “slurry” hack.)

The notable exception is the family of soupy rice dishes—called ​jook​ or the closely related congee in China, juk in Korea, okayu in Japan, and arroz caldo throughout Spanish-speaking countries—that start with white rice kernels. (​One of our stories asks if this might be “The Best Breakfast in the World.”​) The only downside is that it takes hours to cook.

Enter creamy brown rice hot cereal—a whole-grain alternative that cooks in a flash. Since the rice is coarsely ground, it doesn’t take long before the porridge thickens; then just add water to veer it toward the soupy side. The toppings help you spin it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. (See the list that follows for some ideas.) And leftover brown rice jook reheats perfectly in the microwave out of the fridge or freezer.

Caramel-Apple Cobbler

A dessert so fantastic, we couldn’t bring ourselves to mention in the title that it happens to be both vegan and gluten-free. This time brown rice cereal (simply proofed in boiling water) and aquafaba (the viscous liquid from canned or home-cooked chickpeas) are the key ingredients. (If you use canned chickpea liquid be sure to buy cans labeled BPA-free.) The process is just as easy as any classic cobbler recipe, though a little bit unusual. Be aware that the batter looks like it might never set up, but it eventually does. There’s a big upside: The long baking time leaves your kitchen smelling like cinnamon and caramel apples. (For a more traditional, small portion cobbler, check out ​Holly’s Dead-of-Winter Peach Cobbler​.)