Black Rice is the new Brown

I got a whole lotta love for brown rice, but let’s face it – it is so 2010.
Moving into the now, let’s get a handle on the newest and hottest whole grain to hit the health food store shelves: black rice. Oh yeah.

Some of you may already be familiar with this powerhouse grain, sometimes referred to and sold as “forbidden rice”. Sounds sinful, eh? The reasons behind that could be hearsay, but according to legend, in ancient China consuming black without approval from the proper authorities can have life threatening consequences for those involved. I don’t know about you, but my taste buds are pretty stoked that the black rice prohibition has been lifted and we can all indulge in a little forbidden naughtiness.

Once you go Black…
Black rice is an heirloom variety of rice cultivated in Asia. It is typically sold unmilled with the fiber-rich black husks still intact. It is this outer layer of bran that sets black rice apart from other types of unpolished rice, as the deep, dark pigments that it contains boasts special phytonutrients, called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are responsible for the reds, blues, purples, and magenta colours also found in blueberries, grapes and açaí, all of which we know to be powerful antioxidant-rich foods. These compounds decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer. They may also aid in the prevention of macular degeneration by protecting the eyes from free radical damage, increasing circulation and stabilizing collagen structures (which hold tissues together).

In addition to its high antioxidant content, black rice has also been shown to help prevent diseases associated with chronic inflammation, such as diabetes, and dampen allergic reactions.

Rice in general is rich in complex carbohydrates, good quality, digestible protein, yet low in fat and calories. Rice aids in digestion, as it is high in dietary fiber (assuming it is not white rice, of course). Rice bran, the husk on the outside of unprocessed rice helps to lower cholesterol, and some studies have shown it may help prevent bowel cancer.

Cookin’ it up
Like other unmilled, unprocessed rice, the black variety takes longer to cook than traditional white rice (yup, get over it). It should also ideally be stored under refrigeration and used within three months, to prevent spoilage. Rinsing and soaking the rice before cooking will help to bring the cooking time down. As a general rule, black rice should be cooked with two cups of water to every one cup of rice, and it will need to cook for 20 to 30 minutes after soaking, or up to 60 minutes if you cook unsoaked rice.

Although the grains appear to be black when uncooked, they are in fact a deep purple-burgundy, which will dye just about everything it comes into contact with. On one hand, this makes it perfect for combining with regular brown rice as it will turn all the grains a lovely colour, but be careful with ceramic or enamel cookware (I totally wrecked my white enamel saucepan!), as well as clothing and countertops. You’ve been warned.

I first tried black rice a few years ago when a good friend of mine gave me a bag for my birthday (my buddies know me so well). I instantly fell in love with its very rich taste, sweet nuttiness and chewy texture. It really is that delicious.
Here I’ve used it to make a delectable and satisfying cold salad, as picnic season is upon us! Black rice is also delicious, and most often used to make puddings and desserts. It is not entirely fluffy in nature, so be aware that you will not end up with a light, airy style of grain. For this reason, I think black rice would be ideal in other savory dishes such as paella or risotto. Give it a shot!

My Black Rice Sesame Salad is incredibly versatile, and with many of the recipes here at My New Roots, I encourage you to just use the vegetables you have on hand in the fridge, or whatever is in season. The dressing provides the background flavour, so mix up the produce to suit your tastes.

Black Rice Sesame Salad
Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked black rice
sea salt
knob of ghee or coconut oil (optional)

1 red pepper, julienned
2 carrots, julienned
5 radishes, sliced into discs
4 green onions, sliced on the diagonal
½ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup sesame seeds, toasted

Dressing:
1 Tbsp. ginger, minced
2 Tbsp. cold-pressed sesame oil (or olive oil)
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. tamari
¼ tsp. ground cayenne
1 tsp. liquid honey (or other sweetener)

Directions:
1. Prepare the black rice; you can either soak it overnight for optimal digestion, or simply wash it well 2-3 times, and drain. Place rice in a pot with 2 cups water and a couple pinches of sea salt (add the ghee or coconut oil if you like). Cover with a tight-fitting lid, bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. If you are using soaked rice, check for doneness after 20 minutes, and drain any excess water. Otherwise leave it to cook for 50-60 minutes. The rice should be soft, yet chewy.
2. While the rice is cooking, prepare the dressing. Place all ingredients in a jar and shake well. When the rice is finished cooking, place in a large bowl and pour the dressing over while still warm.
3. Prepare the vegetables. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet until they pop. Remove from heat. Add vegetables and sesame seeds to the rice. Stir well to combine. Season to taste. Store leftovers in the fridge.

Copyright 2012 My New Roots at mynewroots.blogspot.com

30 comments

  1. Kate

    For Crimson Anna, Lotus Foods grows Forbidden Rice organically. This rice is grown on small family farms in the Black Dragon River (Heilongjiang) region of China’s sub-arctic Northeast provinces. Though I’m sure it’s clean, ethical, and sustainable – if you’re like me, and prefer your food grown somewhere other than China, there’s also Fondo di Toscana, Organic Tuscan Black Rice. (I’ve eaten black rice grown in Italy, and found it absolutely scrumptious! Can’t wait to try this one!) Hope that puts some worries to rest. Hey Anna, how come you stopped eating rice when every kind is available organically grown?

  2. nathanielle

    Hi Sarah I was wondering when you soak rice, any rice, does one keep the soaking water to cook the rice in or should it be discarded?
    Thanks and thanks for this fun and amazing blog!

  3. Michele

    Like you I received a bag of black rice as a gift — but I have yet to brave making it because I have never eaten black rice so I didn’t know how best to prepare it. I have been researching recipes all over the web — and would you believe you are the first to warn about the dying properties of the rice! Thank you for saving me from ruining my white dishes… You have also made me question using my rice cooker, for fear it will stain the inner steamer. I am wondering about the refrigeration recommendation — I have never heard of refigerating any rice, and I would think the moisture of refrigeration would actually accelerate spoilage? On the other hand, I do refrigerate less processed flours — anyone else have any rice stoage info or experience?

  4. Pingback: Black Rice with Sweet Potatoes, Purple Cabbage, Corn, Raisins…A Friday Night Feast! | Jennifer's Maude & Mary
  5. rjogden

    Just FYI, unless you are getting something VERY different from all the black rice I’ve seen in health food stores and dozens of Asian groceries, it does NOT contain “husks” or “hulls”. They are the papery covering of the seeds, always removed during initial preparation of rice following harvesting. They sometimes use it in pillows, and it finds other uses as fillers – but not food. You are correct to say the BRAN layer is intact, just as in brown or red rice.

  6. Anonymous

    Just made my first black dice ever and used your recipe, it’s delicious and will definitely become a regular! Thanks so much for sharing. Vanessa, new zealand

  7. RawGuru

    I love heirloom varieties of rice (well, of anything really!) , and love mixing black rice in with brown too. Your rice salad recipe looks really really amazing, can’t wait to try it out soon!

  8. Rebecca Leffler

    Addendum: I then went on to make your snappy spring salad and raw peach cobbler – both possibly my new favorite spring meals (to be repeated over and over again, though will be hard to squeeze in since ALL of your recipes look absolutely delectable). Seriously- best food blog out there. Have you written a cookbook yet? And will there be more videos where that quinoa web- vid came from? :)
    Merci beaucoup!
    Your biggest fan in Paris, France :)

  9. Rebecca Leffler

    Made this today – SO DELICIOUS! I still had a bag of black quick cooking rice from the US, but can’t seem to find it anywhere here in Paris so next time I’ll have to go the long route, but definitely worth it! Love the kick the ginger and pepper give it- very filling but also perfect for a hot spring/summer day!
    Just discovered your blog and may be a bit obsessed with it :) Will be making ALL of your recipes soon :)
    Keep up the great work and will you please come to Paris for a cooking class soon?? :)

  10. emm

    I love black rice and have eaten it since I was young as a dessert with coconut cream and palm sugar. But I’ve never tried it in a savory dish.
    As a newbie to your blog, just wanted to say how much I love it! Hi from Australia :-)

  11. Sarah B

    Hi Hillary!

    I LOVE red rice – you must give it a try! I don’t think there are any types of rice that are unhealthy with the hull still on. That is what makes it so exceptionally healthy in fact, as the germ of the grain is left intact.

    Hope you enjoy.

    Best, Sarah B

  12. hillary

    While I haven’t seen black rice around at the stores, unpolished red rice has been showing up recently, but I was nervous to buy it because it looks like it still has the hulls. Are there any types of rice that are unhealthy if eaten with the skins still on?

  13. jc

    Thanks for the black rice recipe…I’ve been waiting for some guidance and creativity for ‘royal rice’ – yet another name for it.

  14. the good soup

    Black rice is so good. I love it with coconut milk to make a not so sweet pudding. Great with mangos! I haven’t had it in a savoury dish yet, but you’ve inspired me to try it out. Thank you! Angela

  15. Darja

    I like rice and colours, but what I noticed at first was the wonderful cup! Who made this cup, where is it from? The styling of your food is soooo wonderful!
    Best regards from Ljubljana

  16. margaret

    ABC News in NYC did a segment on the “mysterious black rice” last week, and highlighted a black rice salad from Whole Foods Market that didn’t look as good as this one. Thanks for this recipe, and for showing us that it really isn’t that mysterious at all!

  17. Karen

    So beautiful! I love the contrasting colors and the fresh flavors you have going on here.

    I’ve also discovered Italian black rice from the Veneto – absolutely delicious with seafood stews.

  18. Willemijn

    I was wondering, is the black rice you used the same one that´s commonly used as a sort of dessert rice in Asian cooking? I often see it in the Asian market labeled as “black glutinous rice”, didn´t sound that healthy to me haha!

  19. Sarah B

    Hey ladies!

    Jennifer – thanks a bunch for that recipe link! It looks incredible, can’t wait to try it :)

    Crimson Anna – I have no idea if black rice is more sustainable in its production, but I would guess it’s probably the same as other types of rice, unfortunately.

    Thanks for writing!
    Sarah B

  20. CrimsonAnna

    I was wondering, is this black rice produce less greenhouse gas when cultivated? I have almost completly given up rice since I found out how harmful it is.

  21. Ashlae

    I’ve been seeing black rice everywhere lately. I think it’s a sign that I need to buy some, already. Around here, we eat a lot of rice – and have a rice cooker, so it doesn’t bother me one bit that it takes longer to cook!

Post a comment

Current ye@r *