Let’s find out all about black rice cooking and how to cook black rice in our recipes
Black rice is really an ally of our health, especially if we decide to cook black rice in healthy dishes. It is a rice variety of oriental origin, characterised by the dark colouring of its grains. Black rice is also known as Forbidden Rice, because in Ancient China only those belonging to the upper class could afford to eat it. Therefore, no artifice, black rice is black by nature! Let’s discover this famous rice variety together with Risotto.us, the Italian website dedicated to rice and risotto recipes, and in particular how to cook black rice.
Black rice is eaten whole: if we look at the broken grains we notice that the inside is white; therefore in the transition from brown rice to milled rice, a large part of this characteristic colour would be lost. Just the characteristics of the pericarp make rice health benefits so important. There are several Italian rice varieties, born from years of hybridization and selection.
The most famous black rice variety is certainly the Venus black rice, grown mainly in Piedmont and created on the border between Novara and Vercelli in the 1990s. Its grain is medium-small, round and aromatic: while cooking black rice, this variety releases hints reminiscent of freshly baked bread.
From the cross between Venus black rice and a needle-like white rice, Riso Artemide was created. It is produced exclusively in the rice fields of Casalbeltrame near Novara. Its grain is purplish black and tapered. While cooking forbidden rice it has got floral aromas. There are many other rice varieties on the market, such as Nerone Black rice, an Italian rice variety characterised by a bright black grain. Then, there is the Gioiello black rice, which in the rice field has got completely black-purple leaves and cobs. Moro black rice has similar characteristics to Venus black rice, while Otello is a rice variety from Lomellina created from the cross between Chinese black rice and Carnaroli rice. The latest black rice variety, which will shortly be on the market, is Ebano black rice, selected by the IRES research center in Nibbiola, Novara. You are really spoiled for choice to cook forbidden rice!
The origin of the name
The name of Venus black rice has got funny origins… It was born from a crush by a Novarese farmer for the soubrette Josephine Baker, who in the 1930s had been nicknamed the “Black Venus”. At the Coccia Theatre in Novara Baker sold out in 1932, then she returned to the city in 1969 (when she was 63 years old) at the Faraggiana Theatre. The name Venus for the first Italian black rice is therefore inspired by her and it was obtained in the late 1990s from the cross between an oriental black rice (in China it was called “the Emperor’s rice” for its rarity and rice benefits. It was also said to be aphrodisiac) and an Italian white rice.
Black rice: the health benefits of rice
Black rice is excellent as a base for rice salads and ethnic dishes. On a nutritional level, we can truly say that cooking forbidden rice is good for our health. Let’s see all the health benefits of eating rice.
It is in fact a brown rice, rich in fibre and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). The colour of its grains makes us understand how rich they are in antioxidants, the same that we find in blueberries and purplish fruits and vegetables. Recall that an antioxidant is a molecule that counteracts oxidation and therefore cellular aging.
Like all other types of rice, it is a naturally gluten-free cereal and therefore cooking with black rice is an excellent choice for feeding coeliacs. Finally, its high fibre content makes it possible not to have blood sugar spikes in the post-meal phase, therefore it is suitable for diabetics. But the benefits of rice are much more: from the point of view of low-calorie regimes, this mechanism also prolongs the sense of satiety. How to cook black rice? We should always remember that it is advisable to pay attention to the type of seasoning, in order not to transform a good base into an unbalanced and high-calorie dish.
How to cook black rice
If you want to know how to cook forbidden rice, consider that black rice can be served both hot and cold, but let’s see how to cook black rice following the advice of Risotto.us.
Since it is a brown rice, it is almost impossible to use the risottatura technique with black rice: this technique in fact includes a first roasting of the grains and then cooking black rice with gradual addition of broth. However the presence of the pericarp (the pigmented ones) of the whole grain lengthens a lot times.
How to cook black rice then? The ideal, from the point of view of comfort, would be to boil it. While boiling, water has got an intense dark purple colour. This water can be used for many cooking preparations: it will give colour to recipes, bringing important nutrients. How long to cook black rice? Cooking boiled black rice takes about 45-50 minutes, but time is shortened to 20-25 minutes if we decide to cook black rice in a pressure cooker.
There are also those who recommend to soak black rice in water the night before, in order to use it once softened. In fact, to keep the flavour and all the benefits of eating rice intact, it is more correct not to soak black rice or boil it (nor wash it before use), but steam it for at least 60 minutes: in this way minerals and water-soluble vitamins such as those of group B, which tend to disperse in water, are preserved. Cooked black rice can be passed in a pan simulating a risotto, or seasoned with fish or cheese sauces.
Those who are wondering how to cook black rice must know that they can safely let it cool down to room temperature and keep it in the refrigerator, seasoning it as a rice salad in the most classic or creative ways, or to form pies.
Some recipes with black rice
How to cook black rice in an original way? Here are some tasty recipes and black rice cooking instructions.
Black rice with feta cheese and vegetables. While you are cooking black rice, dice the vegetables (for example zucchini, carrots and peppers) and roast them in a pan with a spoonful of extra virgin olive oil and aromas. When you have cooked black rice, put it in a bowl together with the vegetables, the crumbled feta and two tablespoons of olive oil. It can be an excellent idea for those who are looking for some tips on how to cook black rice as a warm dish or cold rice salad. But be careful with salt as feta is a very tasty cheese!
Black rice with Gorgonzola. Cook black rice and melt the Gorgonzola over a bain marie (according to taste, in the sweet or spicy version); if necessary, add a drop of milk. Gorgonzola is naturally lactose-free: for dairy intolerants the advice is to lengthen the cream with rice milk. Once you have cooked black rice, drain and form a pie with the hot black rice, cover it with the hot gorgonzola cream.
Black rice salad with octopus. We must clean the octopus and boil it in abundant salted water with a couple of bay leaves for about 20-25 minutes. Let it cool in the cooking water. How to prepare black rice in the meantime? In another pan, boil the black rice, drain it and let it cool. We cut the octopus into chunks and brown it for a few minutes in a pot with two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of sweet and/or smoked paprika. Pour the black rice and the octopus into a bowl, season with two tablespoons of olive oil and a handful of finely chopped chives.
Paella with black rice and chicken. How to cook black rice in an even more original way? We must steam the black rice or boil it in the traditional way or in a pressure cooker. Meanwhile, in a non-stick pan, fry a chopped shallot and a clove of red garlic with two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. We add the diced chicken breast, a pinch of pepper and we cook everything. In half a glass of brandy, we melt the saffron and keep it aside. As soon as the chicken is browned on both sides, we blend it with the saffron brandy. We add diced peppers, a sprinkling of pepper, a few drops of tabasco, turmeric and rosemary. Let the black rice cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Drain the black rice and add it hot to the dressing.
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