Forbidden Rice: Cook Once Eat Twice
I’m taking my family on a voyage of discovery this week, with the help of a “forbidden” treasure. Instead of plain old white rice, I’m cooking up black rice, also known as “forbidden rice.” This delicious heirloom rice variety harvested in China and Italy has a dramatically dark appearance (it actually has a deep-purple hue when it’s cooked) and a deeply nutty flavor.
The story behind the name of this gorgeous rice is that because of its rarity and high nutritional value, only the Chinese emperor was permitted to eat it. Now, of course, it’s forbidden in name only, and you can use it wherever you’d normally use a wild or brown rice, even, as the Thai do, in desserts. Black rice pudding, anyone?
Here’s my game plan: I’m cooking enough forbidden rice for two meals, starting with a dinner of Rice Corn Cakes with Spicy Black Beans. Instead of using brown rice, which the recipe calls for, I’m using black rice, which has a similar texture but makes for a unique dinner. Corn, scallions, and garlic give these rice cakes texture and a well-rounded flavor. And served with black beans, they make a satisfying and balanced meal. My one-year-old loves rice cakes, and I love that they’re easy for him to eat on his own without making too much of a mess.
This Fried Forbidden Rice dish is a perfect second meal, because it actually tastes best when you use leftover rice. Did you know that Chinese restaurants actually use day-old rice for their fried rice dishes? (It’s less sticky.) This one is a variation on Indonesian nasi goreng, and is studded with bacon, but to give it an extra boost of protein, I’m serving it with a fried egg on top. Typically, fried rice recipes call for scrambled eggs, so I’m just giving the eggs a bit of a twist.
Note that if you don’t have black rice, you can use brown rice for a delicious substitute.