Highlighting just a few in an upcoming class for Ashland Food Co-op, McNiel noted several others while chatting about the menu. Black rice was among those mentioned for its antioxidant content — as high as blueberries — and protein.
With all the good fiber of brown rice, black rice is much more striking on the plate. And it takes about half the time of brown rice to cook.
The nutritional benefits of black rice are so great that, centuries ago, only Chinese emperors were allowed to eat it, according to legend, which gave the grain its other name: forbidden rice. If not forbidden, it’s still not exactly easy to find. I buy it at Shop’n Kart in Ashland or the local food co-ops.
Try it in this recipe from The Washington Post, adapted from “Cooking With an Asian Accent,” by Ying Chang Compestine. One serving has 350 calories, 14 grams of protein, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 16 grams of fat, 2 saturated and 5 grams of dietary fiber.
Forbidden Rice With Eggs, Tofu and Mushrooms
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
3 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces firm tofu, drained, pressed and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (may substitute cooked ham)
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/4 cup fresh or frozen/defrosted green peas
2 cups cooked, cooled black rice (see NOTE a)
1/4 cup raw, unsalted almonds, toasted and crushed (see NOTE b)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
In a small bowl, beat the eggs, soy sauce and sesame oil. Stir in half of the scallions.
Pour the oil into a large, well-seasoned, cast-iron skillet or wok over medium heat. Pour in egg mixture and swirl pan so it’s coated with mixture. Cook without stirring until egg is softly set, for a few minutes. Break up egg mixture with a spatula. Add the tofu, shiitakes, peas and cooked rice. Stir-fry until rice is heated through and mushrooms have collapsed, for 5 minutes.
Taste and stir in a little more soy sauce as desired.
Sprinkle with the almonds, cranberries and remaining scallions; serve hot. Makes 4 servings.
NOTE (a): For 2 cups black rice, first rinse 1 cup uncooked rice 2 or 3 times in a strainer. Then combine it with 1 3/4 cups water and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let rice sit, covered, for a few minutes, then fluff. Cool completely before using in a stir-fry, or serve immediately if using as a side dish.
NOTE (b): Toast almonds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant, shaking pan to avoid scorching. Cool completely before using.