Sqirl's Crispy Brown Rice "Kabbouleh"

October 28, 2015
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 12 hours
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

That same crackly rice that cultures across the world hold on high—the well-toasted bottom layer of rice in a good paella, tahdig, or bibimbap—doesn't have to come only at the end of a perfectly made dish. It can be broken apart and distilled for us to eat whenever we like. This is probably a trick you'll want to bust out for dinner parties where you want to show off, and feel joy and rapture with others. But you could also make it just for you, with extra to have on hand—just keep the components separate till eating time so the rice stays crunchy. And once you have a jar of this gold, where else could you use your crackly puffed rice? On top of any salad, any bowl of sundry grains and vegetables. Your eggs, your noodles, your yogurt. Adapted slightly from Jessica Koslow and Ria Barbosa of Sqirl and Bon Appetit (June 2014). CORRECTION 7/20/20: This recipe, as previously published, was credited to Jessica Koslow. After the publishing of this Eater article and reaching out to former Sqirl Chef de Cuisine Ria Barbosa, we've since learned that the credit also belongs to her, and have made that adjustment here. —Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
  • 2 tablespoons dried currants
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup short-grain brown rice
  • Kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil (for frying—about 2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 bunch small curly kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 small English hothouse cucumber, finely chopped
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons sumac (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Combine currants and vinegar in a small bowl, and let sit for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.
  2. Cook rice in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
  3. Drain rice, return it to the pot, cover, and let it sit 10 minutes. Spread the rice out on a baking sheet, and let it dry out overnight in an unlit oven or on the countertop.
  4. Fit a small saucepan with a deep-fry or candy thermometer and pour in vegetable oil to measure 2 inches.
  5. Heat over medium-high heat until the thermometer registers 350° F. Working in 4 batches, cook rice until lightly golden and puffed, about 1 minute. Using a fine-mesh sieve, transfer puffed rice to paper towels to drain, season with salt, and let cool.
  6. Meanwhile, pulse cauliflower in a food processor until finely chopped, then transfer to a large bowl. Working in batches, pulse kale in the food processor until finely chopped (be careful not to turn it into a purée), adding it to the cauliflower as you go. Add the puffed rice, currants with soaking liquid, cucumber, scallion, olive oil, Aleppo pepper, and sumac, if using. Toss to combine and season with salt, black pepper, and more vinegar, if desired.
  7. Note: Rice can be fried 5 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Elizabeth Detrich
    Elizabeth Detrich
  • robin lewis
    robin lewis
  • Jeff Heffner
    Jeff Heffner
  • Panfusine
  • Alexis Mascitti
    Alexis Mascitti
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

22 Reviews

rambseigh June 3, 2017
The recipe for how to fry the rice is similar to Jessica Koslow's recipe from a Buzzfeed article. I tried it the other week to not such great results. In the BF article, Koslow says to put the rice in the fridge overnight, which I did. The next day I heated a few cups of oil to 350, added rice (I did it all at once as per the Buzzfeed article), 2 minutes later when I was supposed to remove it, it had barely cooked. It ended up taking 12 minutes to look anything like the rice from Sqirl, but by then the consistency was way off. I ended up with chewy, plasticky rice. I thought the problem was that the oil temp should be higher than 350, but thanks to this article I'm guessing leaving the rice in the fridge overnight didn't dry out the rice enough. I'll either try leaving it out at room temp (I'm not concerned about bacillis cerus) or lightly toasting as other users have done. Thanks.
melissa April 28, 2017
defeats the purpose i guess, but the rice sounds like a lot of work -- i might try this without drying it out. (don't kill me)
Virginia M. April 10, 2016
Drying the rice out overnight didn't dry it sufficiently to fry it for me – I ended up drying it a bit more in a 170 degree oven afterwards. After that: perfection. I guess it depends on how humid your environment is.
Elizabeth D. December 25, 2015
Molly, I toasted it dry, it turned out just fine.
katharinec November 17, 2016
Me too! I just drained it after cooking and then put it on a baking sheet (didn't have time to dry it out overnight); it came out wonderfully. Great recipe!
robin L. November 10, 2015
I'm waiting for the rest of our dinner before adding the crispy rice to the rest of my now-assembled salad, and I hope they hurry up w/the grilling because there may not be as much crispy rice left for the salad...I should have doubled the batch of rice...yum. The salad (w/o the rice) tastes a bit funky, though (is it the sumac?? or cauliflower? not sure--something is distracting about it)...I'm hoping it's because it needs a little time to meld and/or it'll be transformed by the rice...
robin L. November 10, 2015
dang...the salad (tossed together, with 99% of the crispy rice called for in rhe recipe...) still tastes a bit funky...what's the imbalance (if anyone can give a guess)?
Jeff H. November 2, 2015
Am I the only one worried about leaving cooked rice on the countertop overnight? Bacillis Cerus?? Just curious
Alexis M. November 5, 2015
Frying in 350 degree hot oil would kill any bacterial growth, I would think.
Jeff H. November 5, 2015
It might kill the bacteria, but the simple fact that it went funky should make people think twice, since no one wants to eat something that was not prepared fresh, since I am a chef and ServSafe instructor, I have a huge issue with this and have gotten sick from funky rice. So No thanks
Soc P. March 13, 2020
every person has their own tolerance for "funky." I have dear friends who eat rice daily. They cook a large batch of rice twice a week and leave it on the stove to be reheated as needed. They are quite healthy and told me that they had never heard of chilling "leftover" rice in a refrigerator. Each culture has its own customs. I am a physician, and I do read the literature and studies on food safety, but I also listen closely to my patients and others who come from different worlds. If everything in our literature applied to everyone, we would all be dead. Consider how we all saw our parents or grandparents defrosting a chicken on the kitchen counter overnight....
Elizabeth D. November 1, 2015
I just made this and it was very good! To avoid the high fat content (can't digest fat), I spread the rice out on a heavy-gauge cookie pan lined with foil and baked at 450 for 20 minutes, stirring twice. Worked like a charm!
Kristen M. November 2, 2015
Great tip, thank you.
Molly December 23, 2015
Did you add any oil before putting it in the oven, or were you able to just toast it dry?
robin L. November 1, 2015
I never know what 'vegetable oil' means...can I use a 'high heat' oil like safflower?
Kristen M. November 2, 2015
Yes, anything high heat-friendly will work—grapeseed, canola, vegetable oil blends.
Hanna November 1, 2015
In lieu of frying, I will try slicking the cooked, drained dried rice with oil and roasting at 500' until golden.
BakerMary November 1, 2015
Hanna, back on this technique.
Kristen M. November 2, 2015
See Elizabeth Detrich's comment, above!
BakerMary November 2, 2015
Oops, thanks!
Hanna March 21, 2016
Yes, this worked well. It was so delicious that I kept a jar, of the lightly salted on the counter for snacking. The slight bit of oil gave the salt something to stick to. I took a photo, but don't see a way to upload it to the comment section. Sorry to take so long to conform, life got in the way.
Panfusine October 30, 2015
Sounds fabulous & worthy of the genius label. Wonder if flattened brown/red rice (poha) would work in this recipe in the absence of the brown short grain rice.