Tag Archives: food

Thai Black Rice Pudding

I like to play a game with myself every time I go grocery shopping. I pick an item I’ve never cooked with before – sometimes one that I’ve never even heard of – and try it. I research it online, look up recipes, cooking techniques, etc and usually end up with a new favorite food.

This time I bought black rice. A friend of mine recommended it for sushi and I had never heard of it before and decided to give it a try. Interestingly, black rice, also known as “purple rice” or “forbidden rice”, has more health benefits than white or brown rice and is glutinous. “Compared to white, brown and red rices, black rice has the highest amount of protein and double the fiber of brown rice.” It is also rich in iron and contains the pigment, anthocyanin, an anti-oxidant, also found in blueberries, blackberries, and other dark fruits.

Black rice is common in a lot of Asian countries and is usually more expensive than white or brown varieties. A Chinese legend says that black rice got its name because it was so nutritionally beneficial that only the emperors were allowed to eat it, hence the name “forbidden rice”. In its appearance when cooked, it looks more of a dark purple (due to the anthocyanin) than black, thus the name “purple rice”. It is much more moist and sticky than white or brown rice, making it a good option for sushi, pudding and soup.

I am a firm believer that the best way to really engage with a culture is through its cuisine and I love cooking. After my research, I chose a rice pudding recipe, common in southeast Asia. I scoured Pinterest and Google and found numerous recipes with proportions of coconut milk and water varying, some with eggs, some with vanilla, etc. In the end, I adapted a recipe from this food blogger. It was simple, easy and did not have too many ingredients!

What I used:

  • ¾ cup uncooked, black rice
  • 1½ cups water
  • 3 cups vanilla flavored coconut milk
  • ⅓ cup white sugar
  1. Combine the rice and water in a deep saucepan. Let cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes or until water is completely absorbed.
  2. Stir in the coconut milk and sugar, and lower the heat. Stir regularly for about 50 minutes or until mixture has started to thicken and rice is cooked through. The coconut milk should be almost absorbed, not too soupy (unless you want it that way, of course). Depending on how low of a heat you’re using, it may take a little longer.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool. To serve, top with fresh fruit and a sprinkle of shredded coconut. I also let it sit overnight and it only got better!

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Dinner with Gionni

“You must first find someone to eat with, rather than something to eat.”

One of the pluses of working in a multicultural office is making friends from around the globe. I am lucky enough to work with and be able to befriend people from more than fifteen different countries. One of my newest colleagues-turned-confidantes is an Italian named Gionni. He’s twenty-nine and has a trinacria tattooed on his right arm. One of the things I love about him is that he cooks. And he loves to cook for other people.

With our shared love of the kitchen, we decided to have dinner nights where we cook for one another and try out new recipes. Last night was one such evening…mozzarella and balsamic vinegar, penne with chicken, Nero d’Avola wine…

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It was all around a wonderful evening and got me thinking…why don’t Americans share their dinner table more often?

I know this is common for date night among couples and people in the same generation as my parents, but why not the young, single, able-bodied twenty and thirty somethings? Why do we not invite our friends over and cook for them? Good cooking can be laborious but worthwhile. And the act of creating something for someone else is rewarding in itself. Why not make a meal as a sign of platonic love? Is it our generation’s lack of interest in the culinary arts or the idea of entertaining someone without the guarantee that the gesture will be reciprocated? Or is it more simply, that some of us still cannot afford enough food for a small group of weekly diners?

I don’t know, but if it were possible, this is something I would change. Much like the American personal space bubble, we have retreated to a society that dines alone far too often. We have designated the activity of home cooking strictly for families and romantic occasions. But why?

Dining is an experience. It’s social. It’s an essential part of your day in the limited quantity you have left. Food is to be appreciated as are people.

Why not enjoy them together?