To start off the blog's focus on rice this week, let's talk about forbidden black rice.
Also called Chinese black rice or just black rice, it's believed that the rice used to be forbidden to anyone but the emperors of China. Which is kind of understandable, since it's a rather remarkable grain. Appearing black when raw, this rice and anything it touches takes on a deep purple hue when cooked. As you may have guessed, the dark colors of this rice means it's packed with nutrients. It's very rich in phytochemicals (ie antioxidants, etc.) and other nutrients, especially iron. Boy, if you've got iron deficiency, I highly recommend eating this rice with some spinach. The back of my bag, which is mostly in Chinese but has an excerpt in English, says:
Continued consumption of black rice improves metabolism and enhances immune system. Ultimately it slows down aging process, prevents diseases, and works on skin care. Especially, abundance in iron and mineral is of essence to children or pregnant women. It provokes an appetite when cooked with regular rice at the rate of 10% - 20% back rice due to its flavor and scent. It is used as a natural food color additives in virtue of its uniqueness and purity.
Not sure how much of that is based on fact, but not a bad reputation for rice, anyway! And this really is a good source of food coloring. When I was cooking the rice all I could think of was how it looked like I'd plopped a bunch of blackberries in the pot instead of simply rice. And like blackberries, this stuff stains. Beware of the pot boiling over and staining your countertops purple. Ah, well, it's being replaced soon anyway.
This was my first time making rice pudding. It was interesting, but I don't think it's my favorite of desserts.
This was also my first time making something with forbidden black rice. It won't be my last! (Well, obviously, I've still got a whole bag to finish. But that's not the point.)
Almond Forbidden Rice Pudding
(Recipe adapted by Mo from Food & Wine)
1/2 cup black rice
2.5 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
1.5 tsp pure almond extract
2 (3-4") cinnamon sticks
3/4 cup organic nonfat milk
1/4 cup organic 1% milk
2-3 tbsp dark brown sugar
Almonds to garnish
Combine the rice, water and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the rice is almost tender and the water is almost gone, about 40 minutes. When the rice is halfway through to that point (~ 20 minutes of cooking) add the almond extract and cinnamon. When the rice is done, add the milks and bring the heat back up. Give the pot love and attention by way of stirring often. When it's nice and thick and resembles pudding, add the sugar to taste and let cool. Serve garnished with chopped almonds.
I tried to candy some chopped almonds to make a cool topping, but I burned the sugar. Go Mo.
The verdict: This is really filling, so only try to serve it in small portions! I used three tablespoons of sugar and found it way too sweet. I think the rice is already a bit sweet so that's probably why. I used much less flavoring than in the recipe above, which I modified to make sure the flavor was more pronounced because this kind of just tasted like an interesting-flavored rice that was sweetened too much haha.
The flavor of black rice itself is very hard to place (I wrote "taste" as a typo, whoops). It's good, no doubt, but difficult to describe. I'll have to try cooking with it with no sweetener to see if I can compare it to anything else.
Remember that you have until Sunday the 13th, 7 PM EST, to submit your great rice recipes! I've already gotten a few yummy submissions, and I look forward to seeing what the rest of you come up with. :)