Do You Know What This Is? Black Rice
Black Rice Sushi and Black Rice Porridge
Outside of Japan, black rice, sometimes referred to as “forbidden rice” is one of the most recent and recommended health foods on the market. Yet inside Japan, where some of the world’s finest black rice is harvested, one seldom sees it beyond the supermarket.
This is a big shame seeing how unbelievably good black rice is for us.
Black is the new black
Black rice has been consumed in most regions of Asia for thousands of years. But there was a long period where it was solely reserved for the Royals, hence the name “forbidden” (to the public). Thought to be a miracle food, its consumption was believed to significantly contribute to longevity. Today, black rice is not only legal but commonly used, especially among health-professionals, foodies and chefs. Meaning, Royal or not, you too can partake in a little forbidden goodness.
Once you go black…
Black rice is both lower in calories and higher in fiber and protein than its white or brown counterparts. In addition, black rice is literally bursting out of its hull with antioxidants. In fact, the outer black hulls of the dark grain boast one of the highest levels of anthocyanin antioxidants of any food, including superfood pin-ups like blueberries and açaí.
Since antioxidants aid in boosting our immune systems and protecting our cells from radical damage, consuming black rice is believed to significantly decrease our risk of heart disease and cancer.
But how do we eat it?
Like any other grain; as an accompaniment to protein, lightly overcooked to make a porridge, whipped into a delicious dessert, mixed through salads or rolled into sushi. For me, my newly developed Japanese taste buds call for rolled sushi. After (well, any time really) my big sweet tooth demands it in the form of a porridge or pudding.
I’d like to share both recipes with you today.
Black Rice Sushi
Serves 3 (vegan, gluten and refined-sugar free)
1 cup uncooked black rice
About 2 1/4 cups of water (depending on your rice-cooker)
6 sheets of sushi nori (seaweed)
2 tbsp sushi vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
Fillings of choice: I used 1 cucumber, 1 carrot, 2 bell peppers (one yellow, one red) and 1 avocado.
When it comes to making sushi, I prefer to cook rice in my rice cooker where I don’t do anything but follow the water guide for brown rice 玄米 (げんまい), push the brown rice button, then wait.
In between drinking a matcha (Japanese green tea) latte and fanning myself, I prepare my fillings by slicing them lengthwise and thin.
Once the rice has cooked having absorbed all of the water, I move it to a bowl to cool and stir in the sushi vinegar and salt then mix well.
Seeing as this is the technology age and we are the technology capital of the world, I will not attempt to describe how one should roll sushi using words but instead, refer you to this video.
Otsukaresama deshita (thank you for your hard-work, more or less) you may now inhale, I mean, delicately consume your efforts with tamari (gluten-free soy sauce) and pickled ginger.
Black Rice Porridge
A substantial breakfast or delicious dessert after a light meal, served hot or cold as you like it.
Serves 2 (vegan, gluten and refined-sugar free)
1 cup uncooked black rice
2 cups water
3/4 cup coconut milk (usually found in the Thai-food section of Japanese supermarkets)
1 small ripe banana
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla essence
Optional toppings of fresh fruit, nuts, seeds and shredded coconut: I used fresh banana, antioxidant-rich freeze-dried blackcurrants and shredded coconut.
Wash the rice well, 2-3 times then drain.
Place in a medium pot with 2 cups of water and let sit (ideally overnight -this will make porridge tastier and easier to digest-or for at least 30 minutes, if you just can’t wait).
Cover with a lid, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer, stirring occasionally. Check after 30 or so minutes. You’ll want to overcook it slightly. Rice should become plump and sticky. Let cool.
Place 1/2 of the warm rice, coconut milk, ripe banana, maple syrup and pure vanilla essence in a food processor or blender and blitz for a few seconds.
Once almost smooth, stir blended mixture through the remaining rice – this step makes for great texture.
If serving hot, lightly heat again before serving with desired toppings. Otherwise, refrigerate to serve cold later. During the hot and humid Japanese summer, I prepare my rice porridge before going to bed and wake up in utmost excitement ready to gobble it down.