I like to play a game with myself every time I go grocery shopping. I pick an item I’ve never cooked with before – sometimes one that I’ve never even heard of – and try it. I research it online, look up recipes, cooking techniques, etc and usually end up with a new favorite food.
This time I bought black rice. A friend of mine recommended it for sushi and I had never heard of it before and decided to give it a try. Interestingly, black rice, also known as “purple rice” or “forbidden rice”, has more health benefits than white or brown rice and is glutinous. “Compared to white, brown and red rices, black rice has the highest amount of protein and double the fiber of brown rice.” It is also rich in iron and contains the pigment, anthocyanin, an anti-oxidant, also found in blueberries, blackberries, and other dark fruits.
Black rice is common in a lot of Asian countries and is usually more expensive than white or brown varieties. A Chinese legend says that black rice got its name because it was so nutritionally beneficial that only the emperors were allowed to eat it, hence the name “forbidden rice”. In its appearance when cooked, it looks more of a dark purple (due to the anthocyanin) than black, thus the name “purple rice”. It is much more moist and sticky than white or brown rice, making it a good option for sushi, pudding and soup.
I am a firm believer that the best way to really engage with a culture is through its cuisine and I love cooking. After my research, I chose a rice pudding recipe, common in southeast Asia. I scoured Pinterest and Google and found numerous recipes with proportions of coconut milk and water varying, some with eggs, some with vanilla, etc. In the end, I adapted a recipe from this food blogger. It was simple, easy and did not have too many ingredients!
What I used:
- ¾ cup uncooked, black rice
- 1½ cups water
- 3 cups vanilla flavored coconut milk
- ⅓ cup white sugar
- Combine the rice and water in a deep saucepan. Let cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes or until water is completely absorbed.
- Stir in the coconut milk and sugar, and lower the heat. Stir regularly for about 50 minutes or until mixture has started to thicken and rice is cooked through. The coconut milk should be almost absorbed, not too soupy (unless you want it that way, of course). Depending on how low of a heat you’re using, it may take a little longer.
- Remove from heat and let cool. To serve, top with fresh fruit and a sprinkle of shredded coconut. I also let it sit overnight and it only got better!