Boil-in-bag rice is a convenience food which packages parboiled rice in a ready-to-cook bag. The bag is dropped into boiling water to cook the rice, and then split open so that the rice is ready to serve. The cooking time for this type of rice tends to be shorter than that for conventional rice, and many brands actually have excellent nutritional value, making it a good dietary choice as well as an easily prepared food. Many grocery stores sell boil-in-bag rice, and it can also be ordered directly through the companies which produce it.
When rice is parboiled, it is typically cooked in the husk. The parboiling process forces nutrients into the grain of the rice, and the husk cracks away, leaving the grain behind. The result is a partially cooked rice which tends to be harder and less sticky than plain rice. Parboiled rice is used in many Asian countries. Parboiled rice is also sometimes called “converted” rice, and it tends to have a faint yellowish tinge which does not impact the flavor.
There are two basic types of boil-in-bag rice. One uses parboiled rice which must still be cooked before it can be consumed, although the cooking process is much shorter. Typically, the rice comes in a perforated bag which is dropped into boiling water and cooked for around 10 minutes. The rice can be served directly out of the bag, or it can be fluffed into a serving bowl and allowed to sit for a moment. Some companies also make microwavable boil-in-bag rice.
The other type of boil-in-bag rice uses “instant rice,” rice which has been cooked all the way and then dehydrated. Instant rice takes only a few minutes of rehydration and heating to be edible. However, it tends to have a dramatically different flavor and texture, and it is not always as nutritious as other rice options, unless it is enriched.
Cooking time with regular rice can be shortened to be comparable with boil-in-bag rice by long soaking. Conventional rice should also be washed before it is cooked, to remove some of the starch along with any contaminants which may be present such as pesticides. However, this is not always an option for all cooks, and boil-in-bag rice is an excellent alternative. This type of rice is also relatively shelf stable, as long as it is kept in a cool dry place. Once cooked, the rice should be eaten or refrigerated to discourage the growth of bacteria. The cooked rice should be used within one to two days or discarded.