Hatsuga genmai (or germinated brown rice) is unpolished brown japonica (Japanese) rice, that has been allowed to germinate in order to alter the flavour and also to increase levels of nutrients such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Hatsuga genmai has a softer texture than brown rice and a nuttier flavour. Germinated (GABA) rice an emerging health food where brown rice is soaked in warm water prior to cooking; the warm bath induces germination, or sprouting, which stimulates rice enzymes to produce more nutrients.
One of these nutrients is the important brain chemical GABA (which is why germinated brown rice is referred to as “GABA rice”), and some scientific studies have shown that a germinated brown rice rich diet can improve cognitive function and other studies have found that it could also act as an anti-diabetic. GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is an essential amino acid and was “discovered” in 2004 as part of the United Nation’s Year of Rice research. By germinating the brown rice prior to cooking, GABA, lysine (another amino acid), tocotrienols, magnesium and zinc are all significantly increased.
So to make GABA rice, you need to start with brown rice – this is because white rice has had the hull removed, which means that it is no longer capable of germinating. The brown rice is rinsed, then soaked in water for an extended period of time before cooking. As the rice germinates the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid increases. On the tip of each grain of rice is an embryo; this is the part of the seed that will germinate. The rice is soaked until the embryo become fuller and larger or a sprout starts to emerge. This means the rice has germinated. Since water is naturally absorbed during the germination process, GABA rice will cook faster and need less cooking liquid, than other forms of rice.
The health benefits are plentiful. Fans of GABA rice say that it’s less irritating to the digestive tract and less likely to promote allergic reactions than regular rice and believe that its nutrients are better absorbed. However, all rice is generally considered a non-irritating food and is unlikely to produce allergic reactions in most people. Emerging research suggests that sprouted brown rice may contain compounds that promote blood sugar control. However, the studies showing an advantage for diabetes are generally comparing sprouted brown rice to refined white rice; there’s usually no difference compared to regular brown rice. Whether or not it’s actually healthier than regular brown rice is unknown, but some people prefer it simply for its softer texture and mildly nutty flavour. People who have trouble making the move from white to brown rice may find the taste and texture of sprouted brown rice a good mid-point between the two.
Note again that GABA rice can be made from any type of brown rice, it doesn’t have to be Japanese brown rice. Now it’s even easier to make with Yum Asia’s rice cookers!
GABA Brown setting on Yum Asia rice cookers
The GABA brown rice (or germinated brown rice) function uses specific timing and temperatures so the brown rice is allowed to germinate. You do not need to buy any special brown rice for this. A good quality brown rice will be sufficient.
When you select the GABA function on a Bamboo rice cooker it will soak and activate the brown rice for you using it’s UMAI (smart brain) fuzzy logic control system which deploys a type of AI. Once started the cooker will begin to phase through different cooking types in the cooking process. During this process, the inner bowl and its contents are kept at a specific temperature for part of the cooking cycle which enables the brown rice to ‘sprout’.
The full cooking time for GABA rice in Bamboo, including the additional activation period, takes around 2 hours 25 minutes to complete (depending on ambient temperatures, rice type etc). The result of this process alters the flavour and increases the levels of nutrients such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA brown rice has a softer texture than brown rice and a nuttier flavour.
Zojirushi models NS-YSQ10/18 and NL-GAQ10/18 also have a GABA brown function and the full cooking time, including the additional activation period, takes may take between 3 hours and 15 mintues and 3 hours and 35 minutes to complete.