When I was a child, my mum’s outlandish, gay, alcoholic friend Richard O’Sullivan came to stay with us for a couple of weeks. I can use his real name because he is dead now. We were living in Buderim, Queensland at the time. After a while we moved to Mooloolaba and Richard came with us, then we moved to Brisbane, then to Byron Bay and then to Sydney and Richard came with us. Mum could not get rid of him no matter what she tried: changing the locks; calling the police; punching him; dumping him at her friends’ houses... Richard got us into trouble wherever we went, drank us out of house and home, robbed our piggy banks, hogged our couch and farted when we were trying to watch tv.
But Richard also brought untold riches. He introduced us to Stravinsky; antique silk kimonos; Italian cooking; Spanish language; Proust; the art of straining glass out of red wine through a silk scarf when you’ve smashed the top off the bottle in desperation because you’ve lost the corkscrew and, not least, the very great skill of laughing in the face of adversity.
At heart, Mum and Richard were far to Bohemian to ever become proper hippies. But we did go through a health food stage. That involved visiting Vegan and Macrobiotic cafés and being forced to eat boiled grains and vegetables with no butter or seasonings. Also to listen to the rather hypocritical self-righteous cant of alternative types who would spend their days telling others how best to live their lives and then go home and hit their wives. Eventually I went on strike, refusing all health food. Richard used to make a brown rice, tuna, carrot and sultana salad. My mum still reminisces fondly about it.
All of this is a rather long-winded way of telling you why I have hated brown rice all my life. That is, until I learned how to cook it properly.
Now I love brown rice. I could eat it every day.
How to cook brown rice:
Use everything organic, if possible.
Half a cup of short grain brown rice.
One cup of water
A handful of sesame seeds
A sprinkling of Umeboshi vinegar (from Japanese shops or good health food shops)
Put the rice and the water in a small pan with the lid on. Bring it to the boil then turn the flame right down and leave it to simmer for 25 minutes. Do not take the lid off.
Meanwhile, dry roast the sesame seeds in a frying pan over a low flame. Stir or shake them constantly until they are golden brown because they can burn in a flash.
After 20 minutes or so, check the rice to see if it has absorbed all the water. The rice should be soft but a bit chewy, not mushy. If it is still wet, put the lid back on and leave it for another 5 minutes. Once all the water is absorbed, turn the flame off and let the rice sit with the lid on for another 5 minutes or so. Then stir in the sesame seeds and add a splash of the vinegar.
It is delicious with cucumber and seaweed salad.