In ancient China, black rice was considered so superior and rare, it was reserved exclusively for the emperor and royalty. These days this ancient grain, also known as forbidden rice, are sought after by gourmets and people seeking superior nutrition.
The color of black rice is the result of plant pigments called anthocyanins, also found in blueberries, which have been linked to impressive health benefits: from anti-inflammatory properties to healthier arteries and better insulin regulation.
Black rice contains the highest amount of antioxidants, protein and dietary fiber of all rices varieties. Black rice is also a good source of iron, which can be hard to get for vegetarians who rely on grains and legumes for protein.
I have not cooked black rice before. According to Ellie Krieger’s recipe, it’d take a good 50 minutes for the rice to cook. I followed her cooking instructions carefully; the rice came out soft with some bite to it. It does not have the degree of creaminess as arborio rice, commonly used in making Italian risotto.
Cooking black rice risotto is similar to making any risotto, except for the longer cooking time. Rice is first cooked in a soffritto of onion and olive oil to coat each grain in a film of fat; white wine is added and cooked until fully absorbed by the rice. Very hot stock (6 cups to 1 1/2 cup of rice) is gradually added while stirring gently and constantly, creating a smooth creamy-textured liquid. Finishing with grated parmesan cheese adds the extra richness and creaminess to the rice.
The recipe can be found here on Ellie Kreiger’s website. I’ve made a few cosmetic changes: replaced basil chiffonade with thinly sliced green onion and dressed up the risotto by garnishing it with a piece of brightly-colored and lightly sauteed langostino tail. I can’t think of a more satisfying and feel-good side dish than a black rice risotto. Definitely, the dish turns out to be more sensational than I’ve expected.
For over an hour, you smelled the aroma of sweating onions, the vapor of reducing wine and broth, and the earthy note of simmering rice. Black rice gives a stunning, deep purple hue and a delightful nutty flavor as Krieger has suggested. Too bad, these senses can’t be captured beyond the written words.
For other “scentsational sides,” the theme of the week at IHCC, the online cooking group, please visit the blogroll for details.
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