A dramatic dish with Forbidden Rice
Lilly Higgins recipe – Black rice is a valuable source of fibre, iron and plant-based protein
Black rice is aromatic with a dramatic colour and nutty flavour. I picked up a bag in my local health food shop and have been cooking it at least once a week for the past few months.
During the days of the Ming dynasty, back in the 1300s, this grain became known as Forbidden Rice. It was exclusively reserved for Chinese royalty and the very wealthy to ensure their good health and longevity. The rest of society were not allowed to grow or consume the precious grain for many years. The dramatic black or rich dark purple colour of the rice, and cooking water, is a real indication of the high antioxidant properties of the rice. Similar to deep coloured red cabbage or blueberries. It’s also a valuable source of fibre, iron and plant-based protein. It’s more nutritious than most grains and rices and is extremely versatile. It can be cooked and used as a grain for salads or stir fries and can even be made into a rice pudding or porridge.
Just like wholegrain rice this rice takes a little longer to cook. You can speed up this cooking time by soaking it in plenty of water for an hour or the night before you intend to cook it. After soaking it rinse well and proceed to cook in fresh water.
This salad is a lovely example of how versatile this rice is. Paired with squash and pops of fresh pomegranate, this is really delicious warm or at room temperature. It tastes perfect the next day too as the rice grains maintain their nutty texture despite being coated in dressing, making it ideal for packed lunches. I’ve added this leftover black rice salad to stir fried pak choy, added a fried egg, splash of soy sauce and a generous helping of kimchi to make an amazing midweek supper. Black rice is definitely going to be something I eat more of in 2018.
Forbidden Rice and Squash Salad
Juice of 1 orange
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. finely grated ginger
1 butternut Squash
300g black rice
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 tbsp. roughly chopped coriander
2 tbsp. finely chopped chives
Preheat the oven to 200C.
First make the dressing to give the flavours a chance to develop. Place the orange juice, honey and ginger into a jar. Shake well to combine then set aside. You could do this the day before for an even more intense flavour.
Cut the squash in half lengthways. Scoop out the seeds and peel the squash. Cut the flesh into bite size pieces. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and mix everything together. Season with salt and black pepper. Spread the squash out in a single layer on a roasting tin and roast for 20 minutes until the edges are just golden and the squash is cooked.
Place the rice and 600ml water into a medium pan. Bring to a boil then simmer for 35 minutes until just cooked but still firm. Drain well and spread the rice out on tray. Gently dry off any excess water with a clean tea towel. Place the rice in a large serving bowl along with 2 tbsp. olive oil and season with salt. Pour the dressing through a sieve over the salad and discard the little pieces of ginger and orange that remain. Stir gently to mix. Taste again for seasoning. Add a little lemon juice if you feel the orange juice is too flat. It all depends on the orange. Add the squash, chopped coriander, chives and the pomegranate arils. Stir gently and serve right away or at room temperature.