“My recipe calls for ‘converted rice’ but I’m not sure what that is.”
Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” had the answer. The difference is in how it’s processed. All rice grows with a husk, which is always removed, and a layer of bran. White rice has had its bran removed, whereas brown rice remains intact. Converted rice is white rice, but, before it’s processed, it’s steamed, so some of the nutrients from the bran are forced into the kernel. The steaming turns the rice a kind of yellow color, and makes it a little healthier than white rice, though not as healthy as brown rice.
A blogger on Agricultured.org taste-tested brown, white, and converted rice. She found that converted rice has a pleasant texture and a milder flavor than brown rice while still being more flavorful than white rice. It’s also less sticky than both brown and white rice. She suggests using converted rice in the crock-pot. Since it cooks faster than brown rice but slower than white rice, it will cook more evenly but won’t get soggy.
Uncle Ben’s is a popular brand of converted rice that most people are probably familiar with. According to Julia Child’s “The Way to Cook,” “converted rice” is actually a patented term, and it’s more commonly known as parboiled rice, which may be why our patron hadn’t heard of it.