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Parboiled Rice: A Good Choice for Foodservice

Many chefs like working with parboiled rice because it cooks up with separate, slightly firmer grains and holds well for long periods in a foodservice environment.

Other chefs are confused about what parboiled rice is, and often confuse it with ‘instant’ or quick-cooking rice.

Parboiled rice is long-grain rice that has been processed differently than regular milled white rice, resulting in its slightly different characteristics.

Parboiling rice before milling is an ancient technique. Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, authors of Seductions of Rice (Artisan, 1998), believe that southern Indians were parboiling rice over hot coals more than two thousand years ago. We don’t know for sure why they did it—possibly because it is easier to remove the bran afterward—but we do know that it has unique characteristics and culinary benefits.

Today, rice is parboiled with steam pressure. After drying, the kernels are milled using standard techniques. Parboiling partially cooks the rice starch in processing before drying, resulting in grains that are firmer and more separate when later cooked in the kitchen. They hold up nicely in soups, are ideal in pilaf-style preparations and most popular dishes, and the grains stay moist and separate in a hotel pan for a long time, making parboiled rice an excellent choice for foodservice.