Black rice is a spectacular food – it really does look amazing on the plate, and in dishes – but many people are put off because they believe it’s difficult to prepare and easy to ruin. And while it's true that it requires a little more effort, and time, than standard rice, it’s actually super simple to cook!
Also known as Forbidden Rice – in ancient China, the rice was considered so healthy and nutritious that the entire crop was reserved for the Emperor, hence the name – black rice fully deserves its reputation as a superfood. While there are over twenty different varieties, the two most commonly found in the US are black japonica (a blend of short grain black rice and medium grain mahogany rice) and traditional Chinese black rice (sometimes called black pearl rice). Both are cooked in the same way.
Black rice has a delicious, nutty, roasted flavor, with a spongy, sticky texture. Care must be taken that it doesn’t turn out gummy and clumpy - for this reason, don’t pre-soak the rice for extended periods of time. A five to ten minute soak, followed by a vigorous rinse, is all that’s required (don’t skip this step, as it helps to eliminate the excess starch which can make rice gummy).
The absorption method, which requires a grain to be cooked in a specific quantity of liquid that should be fully absorbed by the end of cooking, works best for black rice, and should result in wonderfully moreish grains with just the right amount of “bite”. Here’s how to get it right.
Add fresh cold water, and rinsed black rice, to a medium-sized saucepan. The ratio is important; for every cup of rice, use 2 ¼ cups of water. Over a medium-high heat, bring the water to a boil, then add 1/8 teaspoon of salt, reduce the heat, cover, and cook for about 30 to 35 minutes.
Don’t open the lid too often to check on the rice as this let’s a lot of steam out. The rice should be tender and chewy, with all the water absorbed – if all the water has evaporated, but it’s not fully cooked yet, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water and cook for 5 minutes more. Once done, take off the heat and let it stand covered for about 5 to 10 minutes. Then fluff with a fork and serve.
For a little extra depth to the flavour, add a few tablespoons of broth right at the start, but no more – it’ll make the rice too salty. Black rice also keeps well – just drizzle with a little olive oil after it cools, then stir with a fork to coat the individual grains before storing it in the refrigerator. It’ll keep for a week.
We’ve got some great black rice, and now you know how to get great results every time, there’s no excuse not to add some to your cart and start enjoying the benefits of this amazing grain.