In ancient China black rice or purple rice was considered a delicacy and was only consumed by the ancient royals of china. It would be forbidden to the average person to consume it. Today this rice although readily available to all of us common folk is not found on the average grocery aisle.
What was it that made this rice so special?
Turns out this rice was more than just a filler. This rice contains many healthy attributes and that is why it was served to only the most important people of ancient times. We are not experts on health and we do not even have a medical degree however today, many of the experts on health and nutrition have studied and documented the benefits of black rice.
According to The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry “The Black rice bran has a higher content of phenolics, flavonoids, and anthocyanins and has higher antioxidant activity when compared to white rice bran. Interestingly, the phenolics, flavonoids, and anthocyanins of black rice bran are mainly present in free form. Knowing the phytochemical profile and antioxidant activity of black rice bran gives insights to its potential application to promote health.”
According to Medical News Today “Black rice is high in fiber so it aids in digestion and because it is high in antioxidants it can aid in keeping your liver healthy.”
When our neighbor offered us some of this rice to try we accepted gladly not knowing exactly what to expect. We are always up for experimenting with new foods and expanding our palate. The rice is prepared exactly like you would prepare Jasmine rice. We always rinse our rice in a strainer until the water runs clear, this black rice did not need much rinsing at all. We added 1 cup of rice to 1 and 1/2 cups of salted water. Normally I cook rice in stock for more flavor but since this was a lesson merely to get to know it better, I wanted to understand it on its own and added no other flavors to it. Within 15 minutes of simmering the water dissipated, we test-tested for doneness.
The rice was hearty but not toothy. Its outside layer gave way to a softer kernel, this black rice has more the consistency of quinoa. The flavor was much more pronounced than white kernel rice, it had a pleasant nutty taste. This rice did well standing on its own. When I served it I added a small pad of butter and a little salt to bring out the essence of the rice just a bit more.
We served this along with our Asian Chicken Thighs recipe and an Asian inspired simple salad of lettuce, cucumber, carrot, green, and red onion. I made the dressing with some orange juice, soy, ginger, and a tablespoon of lettuce wrap sauce I had in the fridge. What a great weeknight meal!
My advice is to look for the black/purple rice at your local International market. Enjoy its nutty flavor and full texture. You may be healthier for choosing it.