Black rice, Emperor’s Rice or Forbidden rice are all the same thing. Apparently, many years ago when China was ruled by Emperors, this rice could only be eaten by him and was “forbidden” for all others. Thank goodness things have changed. Black rice has a slightly chewy texture and a hint of sweetness to it. Not to mention that it is a gorgeous backdrop of a simple piece of grilled salmon or chicken. The leftover rice is a great compliment to tropical fruit. This is a fantastic BBQ take-along salad.
This is how to cook black rice, according to NY Times website (this has another great salad recipe attached to it) and this is a pretty standard method:
Combine the rice, water and salt to taste in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer 40 to 50 minutes, until all of the liquid in the pan has been absorbed by the rice. Remove from the heat. Remove the lid, place a clean dish towel over the pan and return the lid. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
I cook this rice, as well as most rices, a bit differently. I use the absorption method. (I mentioned this in Perfect Rice Every Time). I don’t presoak this type of rice, though some recipes suggest that you do. I use the ratio of 1:2, rice to water, and about 1/2 teaspoon of salt/cup raw rice. I use a bit less salt, depending on what type of sauce I intend to serve. I can always add salt at the end of cooking. This is where The Goddess tends to part ways with conventional rice-cooking wisdom. She simmers the rice, uncovered, until the water reaches the rice. Be aware, the water will be black as ink. Then, remove the pan from the heat, pop the cover on the pot and with this particular type of rice, let the whole thing stand for about 25-30 minutes. Fluff it, and let it stand again for about 5-10 minutes and it’s ready. Now, taste it. The rice should still have some “tooth” to it, but not be hard in the center. You my need to add a bit more salt. The above version/recipe, from the NY Times, will work well, and that’s a pretty standard way of preparing forbidden rice.
This salad goes together quickly and easily. It’s a-one-bowl-recipe. I’m going to give you a range of quantities for this recipe. This is how The Goddess tends to cook and you can do this, too. It’s a matter of taste and tasting. You taste as you go. And when you taste, try to think about what’s missing. Is the salad flat-tasting? If so, add a bit more salt, stir it in and taste again. Starches like rice, potatoes, and pasta require more salt. Okay. It’s better, but still a bit flat or you’re tasting the “sweet” too much. Add a good squeeze of lime or lemon juice or some other acid, like any one of the plethora of vinegars on the market (except white vinegar). Stir the acid in and taste again…you see how it goes. Chef’s taste constantly. It’s about balance. We all learn as we cook. When you eat out or at someone else’s dinner table, experience those flavors. You’ll find what you like and what flavors work together for you. This is what I think of as cooking-by-instinct. It really is that simple. Remember to cook with abandon!
The Emperor's Forbidden Rice Salad
- 5-6 cups cooked forbidden or black rice (it can be cold or warm)
- 2-3 cups diced fruit (I used pineapple, mango and orange)
- 4 scallions, sliced
- 12-15 snow peas, cut into 3 or 4 pieces
- Grated zest of 1/2 orange
- 2-3 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- Salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Juice of 2-3 limes
- 1-2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1-4 teaspoons of fresh mint, Thai basil or cilantro, torn into small pieces
- Red pepper flakes (optional)
In a large bowl, add the rice, fruit, scallions, snow peas, zest, ginger and salt and pepper. Squeeze the limes over everything. Add the sesame oil, the herb of choice and red pepper flakes, if using. Toss to combine. Taste and correct the salt and acid by adding more if needed. Cover and chill until serving.
NOTE: You may use different types of fruits: mangos, papaya, peaches, nectarines, pineapple and orange sections all work well. Use snow peas, sugar snaps, thawed frozen peas or cooked edamame. Use the zest of lemon and lime, if you wish. This can be a wonderful summertime supper, by adding cooked shrimp or chicken.
The Emperor’s Forbidden Rice Salad Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015. All rights reserved.
Isn’t it beautiful? Add a protein like cooked shrimp or chicken, grilled tofu or tuna and you have a great summer supper to beat the heat. If you have the rice and protein cooked, then dicing the fruit and mixing it all together can easily be done after work. If you pop into the supermarket and avail yourself of their salad bar, then you don’t even have to dice the fruit!
You can see why the Emperor didn’t want to share. But you will. And you’ll be glad you did.