Brown Rice with Furikake

Japanese breakfast bowl with tart cherry kombucha

I first had a version of this dish in Hawai’i at a fancy hotel breakfast buffet. The hotel catered to Japanese tourists, so they had many traditional savory Japanese foods including steamed rice and a mysterious dried green topping to sprinkle over it. I tried it, loved it, and went on a quest to determine what it was. This is my go-to breakfast when I’m rushed or unmotivated. It starts with a pot of cooked brown rice.

Yesterday I posted suggestions for a week of unprocessed, plant-based, and gluten-free breakfasts, and I hope you’ll try them out this week. But what if you are just in too much of a hurry? Certainly I don’t have the time or inclination to make breakfast hash or waffles every day. I wanted to share this delicious, quick, easy breakfast option that’s probably not something you’d consider.

The #1 tip I can share for eating healthier is to cook items like brown rice when you don’t need them, i.e. when you’re not waiting for dinner. When you’re doing laundry, watching tv, cleaning up… soak some beans, cook some brown rice, start some kombucha.

One of my friends said, “I read your blog and you must be cooking ALL THE TIME.” Not really. But there’s often something bubbling or brewing, hands-free, in the kitchen. As I write this post there is cooked brown rice in the fridge, cooked beany-brothy deliciousness, pureed veggie soup from making the BD, and two flavors of kombucha ready to go. I usually have pickles and sauerkraut in there as well. I sometimes mix warm rice with sauerkraut for breakfast. Sounds weird, but I love it.

My favorite kind of brown rice is short grain. It’s a little sticky, chewy, and nutty, all of which I love. For breakfast I take a bowl of warm brown rice and top it with Bragg’s (a type of gluten-free soy sauce), a drizzle of toasted sesame oil (for fat and flavor), and furikake.

Furikake is our mystery ingredient: a traditional Japanese seasoning that combines sea salt (rich in magnesium), toasted sesame seeds (high in protein and minerals like magnesium, iron, and calcium), and nori, a dried seaweed that provides protein, fiber, and a host of vitamins and minerals.

I have a how-to post on furikake here, or you can go to an Asian market and pick up a small jar to try it out. Check the label before buying, as some brands include dried fish, MSG, and/or sugar. [Tips: “Bonito” is dried fish. If the labels are not in English, find someone at the store who can translate everything for you.] Furikake adds richness and that savory umami flavor, in addition to all its health benefits. If you make it at home you can control exactly how much salt is included, which is good if you’re watching your sodium intake.

How to cook brown rice
Makes 3 cups cooked rice, 4-6 servings

1-1/2 C. (295 g*) short grain brown rice
3 C. (230 ml*) filtered water, vegetable stock, or brothy deliciousness (BD)

Put the rice in a lidded saucepan and add a couple of inches of water. Swirl the rice around with your fingers, then drain using a fine mesh sieve or colander. I usually use tap water for this step since 99% of it is drained off, but you can use filtered water if you like. You can capture this water for your garden.

Add the water, stock, or BD to the rice, cover, and bring to a boil on the stove. Crack the lid if necessary to make sure it’s boiling. (Once you know your stove, you’ll know how long a pot of rice takes to boil. For this amount on my stove, I set my timer for 7 minutes, then turn down the heat to simmer.)

Turn down the heat so the rice is just barely bubbling, re-cover tightly if you lifted the lid, and let cook for 35 minutes. Do not open the lid or do anything to the rice while it’s cooking. When the timer goes off, turn off the heat but leave the pan on the burner with the lid on. That’s it!

Let it sit for at least ten minutes, or as long as an hour if you forget it (guilty!) At some point, fluff it with a fork. You can put it in the fridge in the pan, or transfer it to a lidded container (preferably glass).

For breakfast, put a serving of warm rice in a bowl and top with a little gluten-free tamari or Bragg’s liquid aminos and some toasted sesame oil. Warm the rice on the stove, in a toaster oven, or a microwave. Top with a generous sprinkling of furikake.

Notes: * Overseas readers should note that brown rice is cooked at a 2:1 ratio of liquid to rice. So you can take any measuring cup, coffee cup, etc. measure a level amount of rice, rinse it, then add 2 times that amount of liquid to the pan and bring to a boil, following the directions above.

All of our recipes are gluten-free, sugar-free, and made with plant-based ingredients to help you build a healthy life. We support Meatless Monday. Look for midweek essays and Friday how-to and giveaways (when available).

If you don’t have access to an Asian grocery store, here is one type of furikake that doesn’t include sugar, MSG, or dried fish. It’s a little pricey but you might be able to find this brand in a natural foods store and just buy one bottle instead of this 4-pack: