Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Quinoa Cooking Tips

Quinoa; pronounced [keen-wa].  Ever had it?  Ever even heard of it?  It is a whole grain (like wheat, oats or brown rice).  It is super healthy for you, relatively inexpensive, and has a great shelf life.  My mother in law bought a huge amount and gave me some to try.  We both had a bit of a hard time figuring out how to prepare it (since neither of us had ever had it before).  Here is what I've found out since then...

It's good!  It kind of has a nutty flavor, and works great as a side dish or a substitution for rice in stir-fry type dishes.  However, it does have a slightly bitter flavor if not prepared correctly.

Very similar looking to sesame seeds, quinoa has an outer coating which can be very bitter if not removed prior to cooking.  To remove the coating, you just have to soak it in water.  (Some brands/companies do sell quinoa pre washed - so you'll have to expirament with what you have).
- Place quinoa in a strainer (make sure you use the metal mesh kind, quinoa is very small and may go right through otherwise)
- Place the strainer in a bowl and fill with water; soak for 15-30 minutes (if you don't have time for this, you can immerse the quinoa in HOT water for 5 minutes, rinsing once or twice; but longer soaking creates better results).
- Discard any that float to the top.
- Use your hand to stir the quinoa every so often while soaking.  You may also need to discard the water and replace it. 
- Once the water runs clear through the quinoa it is ready for cooking.

Proportions and Cooking time:
- If quinoa is wet (has recently been rinsed) you will use 1 c. quinoa to 1 1/2 c. liquid
- If quinoa doesn't need to be strained (dry) you will use 1 c. quinoa to 1 3/4 - 2 c. liquid
- Bring liquid to a boil.  Add quinoa.  Cover and let simmer 18-20 minutes.

Quinoa can be cooked in water, but I like to use chicken/beef/vegetable stock instead (or at least 1/2 stock and 1/2 water).  It really makes a big difference taste wise.
This is what it looks like fully cooked - pretty small, as you can see compared to the peas, but pretty tasty.  I will be posting some recipes soon enough!

No comments:

Post a Comment