photo: Pixabay/roc zhang
Have you heard of “forbidden” or “longevity” rice? Both of those somewhat mysterious terms are alternative names for black rice, a super whole grain that has been gaining much popularity in recent years. Black rice dates back to 150 B.C. and was grown especially for emperors in ancient China while being forbidden for others except possibly the very wealthy. It was believed that its nutrients would protect emperors from illness and increase their longevity.
Today, this prized grain is primarily grown in Southeast Asia – China, Thailand, India, and Indonesia – with small amounts grown in the Southern United States. It is a more expensive variety of rice due to the fact that the harvest yield is only a fraction compared to other types of rice.
WHY I LIKE IT
- It is Highly Nutritious
The color comes from a particular flavonoid pigment that provides the highest number of antioxidants of any rice. In addition, black rice is highest in protein and fiber, a good source of iron, niacin, magnesium, and thiamin, and lower in calories than other rice varieties. All of those nutrients and antioxidants help lower the risk of serious diseases, support eye health, and reduce blood sugar levels.
- It’s Delicious
Black rice has a slightly nutty, sweet flavor that pairs well with so many foods – vegetables, proteins, sauces, herbs and spices – so it can be used in a multitude of ways.
- It Makes for Eye-Catching Presentations
The deep hue of this rice makes a great backdrop, allowing other foods to really pop on the plate.
- It is Easy to Prepare
Cooking black rice is really no different from cooking other rice varieties. It can be prepared on the stove-top, in the microwave or in a rice cooker.
SELECT and STORE
Black rice has become much easier to find in recent years. It is available throughout the year in grocery stores, online, and many specialty food stores. Check the packaging to make sure it is properly sealed, without holes, slits or tears.
Because black (and brown rice) rice has more oils from the rice bran present than white rice, it has a shorter shelf life. Store raw black rice in an airtight container in a pantry or other cool, dark place, or in the refrigerator or freezer. Check for a fresh, not rancid smell before using. The shelf life of black rice is approximately –
– 6 months in the pantry
– 8 – 12 months in the refrigerator
– up to 18 months in the freezer
Cooked rice should be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Black Rice in Chicken Bowl – Love + Craft Kitchen
Most of the black rice available in grocery stores is a medium-grain, non-glutinous variety which is best for most cooking. Sticky black rice is also available.
Black rice has a slightly nutty or toasted, sweet flavor with a soft texture. Use it as you would any other type of rice – as a side dish, in salads, with stir-fry or a stew, or in desserts.
My two most used methods of cooking any type of rice are the Pilaf Method, which is outlined in the recipe below, or by using the microwave. Using a rice cooker or multi-cooker is also a great way to cook rice. Another popular rice cooking method is called the Pasta Method, where the rice is added to a pot of boiling water just as you would do for pasta, boiled gently, then drained through a strainer when the rice is cooked.
For best results, keep these in mind –
- Before cooking, rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer under cool water to remove any dust and extra starch.
- In general, a ratio of 1 cup rice to 1 ½ – 2 cups liquid produces a light fluffy rice when using the Pilaf method, a rice cooker or microwave. The ratio will vary by rice variety. Water, stock or broth can be used for the cooking liquid.
- Gently simmer the rice for the Pilaf Method so it slowly absorbs the liquid and holds its shape.
- Don’t peek and stir! It’s tempting, but keeping the lid tightly on the pan and not stirring is important when using the Pilaf Method, microwave, and a rice cooker.
- Check cooking times for different types of rice. The range can be anywhere from 20 – 25 minutes for white rice, to 30 – 35 minutes for brown and black rice, to 40 – 45 minutes for wild rice.
- When finished cooking, remove it from the heat, keep it covered and allow the rice to “rest” for about 5 minutes, then fluff and serve.
Have you tried black rice? Share how you prepare it in the comments section.