A Better Shade of Brown

Brown rice that cooks like white

If you yearn for the health benefits of brown rice but dislike its rough texture and strong flavor, it's time to discover beige rice.

This partially polished short-grain rice is grown organically in Sacramento for the Japanese supermarket chain Nijiya. Two strains, the Japanese Akita Komachi and the Californian Nijiya Mai, are available in five polishing levels: 100, 70, 50, 30 percent and none. (Unpolished, aka brown, rice retains all of its bran and germ layers; white rice has all of them removed.)

The 50 percent polished, taupe-hued Akita Komachi is our favorite. It's sweet, chewy-soft and slightly nutty, and pairs beautifully with delicate stir-fries and spicy curries–the types of dishes you'd never want bogged down by regular brown rice.

What's more, beige rice cooks exactly like regular white rice. On the stovetop, use a ratio of 1 cup raw rice to 1¼ cups water. Nijiya sells the rice online, but we're lucky to have four of their stores in the Bay Area.

Nijiya Markets, 1737 Post St. (at Webster St.); 415-563-1901 or nijiya.com