Finally Tried It: Black Rice

March 31, 2009
A few months ago I posted about an article regarding the attention black foods have been receiving in relation to their health benefit. Since then I kept telling myself that if I came across black rice I just had to give it a try. Lucky me, I just happened to find some at the Japanese market here in town a couple weeks ago.

So, why this interest in black rice?
Well, first of all it is different; perhaps not to Asian cultures, but certainly different and rather exotic to those of us not incredibly familiar with all Asian foods. Second, the dark color is an indicator of nutrients. Specifically, anthocyanins, which give the rice its dark purple, almost black appearance.
Anthocyanins are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties and the ability to improve serum lipid profiles which includes cholesterol and triglyceride readings. Studies have analyzed the action of anthocyanin-extract specifically from black rice and have found the above beliefs to be supported.
In addition the iron content in black rice is higher than for other varieties of rice. However, when we consider iron from plant sources such as rice, we also have to consider the bioavailability of the iron. Iron from plant sources is considered non-heme iron and is not always readily absorbed by the body. It is good to know, however, that consuming adequate amounts of vitamin C helps our body absorb more non-heme iron.
Along with its interesting nutritional makeup, black rice has a very rich history that is quite difficult to verify. It is believed that in ancient times it was only to be consumed by Emperors of China giving it the name, forbidden rice. Fortunately for us it is no longer forbidden. It is becoming more and more popular and easier to find in supermarkets.

I decided that this time around I really just wanted to taste and experience the rice itself so I didn’t add it to a complex recipe. I actually pulled a tip from the recipe for Forbidden Black Rice Salad from Lotus Foods. I didn’t have any of the veggies in for the full salad so I simply tossed my rice in sesame oil and soy sauce after it cooked.

Black rice is a medium grain rice so I didn’t cook it much differently than I do the white rice we use so often in Brazil. I cooked one cup of the rice for a few minutes in a bit of olive oil. Then I added 2 cups of water and allowed to it simmer, covered, stirring it occasionally. It took about 25 minutes for it to cook.

The first thing you will notice when cooking it is the smell. It was amazing, filling the apartment with a warm, nutty aroma. It immediately told me that I was not going to be disappointed with this find.

After it had cooked I tossed the rice in the combination of oil and soy sauce. The flavor was perfect. The dressing gave it an even greater nutty, salty taste and it went very well with the salmon I was having for lunch.

Have you tried black rice yet?

Here are a couple interesting posts about black rice from around the blogging world. Enjoy!

We Heart Stuff – Trend: Black Rice

Live to Eat: Forbidden Rice Pudding

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  • Michelle @ Find Your Balance Health March 31, 2009 at 11:15 am

    I haven’t tried, but I also didn’t realize it was the same thing as Forbidden Rice. Sounds awesome!

  • Erica March 31, 2009 at 11:30 am

    You are always pointing out the best foods! Thank you. I def want to try it! Will keep my eyes out!

  • 5 Star Foodie March 31, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Thank you for the info on black rice. I haven’t tried it yet and will try to look for it in my supermarket.

  • Tangled Noodle March 31, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    I have a bag of black rice just waiting to be used. I really have to get over this waiting-for-a-special-occasion-to-use-it and just do it! Thanks for the link for the black rice pudding – I’ve had this dessert at Malaysian restaurants and have been meaning to try it at home. Thanks for bringing this great ingredient to the forefront!

  • lauren March 31, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    thanks for the info! i have heard of black rice, but never tried it and didnt know much about it before now. I am going to look for it next time I am at whole foods…

  • Lori March 31, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Michelle – I think there might be two varieties that exist including a sticky version, but I haven’t been able to figure out if there is a true difference.

    Erica – Glad I can help. 🙂 Definitely give it a try. You’ll like it.

    5 Star – You are welcome! Give it a try. It is great!

    Tangled Noodle – You gotta get to it. 🙂 I have a feeling you will find some amazingly creative ways to use it for sure.

    lauren – I think they sell the Lotus brand there, but I haven’t looked for it myself. I’m going to have to seek out a source for it in the US when we move back.

  • Heather March 31, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    wow. that rice is really beautiful. i haven’t ever tried it, but i’m all intrigued now, what with it being forbidden and all 😉

  • Reeni♥ March 31, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    It’s so striking! I’m going to be on the search for it. Thanks for all the great info!

  • Jolene March 31, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    I think I’ve had this in restaurants??? It rings a familiar bell and I do think I liked it. Will you just come to my house and cook? You have such a healthy variety and so many tasty options in your diet!

  • Caitlin March 31, 2009 at 8:12 pm

    You’ve just inspired me to try black rice this week…I wasn’t aware of all the potential health benefits either. Thank you for this!

  • Sapuche March 31, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    I’ve tried black rice before in desserts: with sweet beans once and with a sweet coconut cream another time. I remember it being chewy and somewhat sweet – nutty, like you said – but it may have been a result of what else it had been cooked with. That’s good to know about the nutrient value associated with dark rice! Do you know if the same qualities are present in the brown strains of wild rice? This is great information to have, and I appreciate your research!

  • lesley April 1, 2009 at 3:12 am

    Thanks for all the great info! We love rice and definitely need to try this.

  • Darius T. Williams April 1, 2009 at 4:55 am

    I’ve never tried black rice before…but clearly I need to at this point.

  • kat April 1, 2009 at 7:19 am

    When you describe it s nutty that makes me think it might taste a but like wild rice.

  • healthy ashley April 1, 2009 at 8:40 am

    I haven’t tried black rice but now I really want to. In the finished picture it looks so complex and hearty. Mmm!

  • Lori April 1, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Heather – Ha, ha! Does make it more fun, right?

    Reeni – I know! The color is just fun in general.

    Jolene – I would love to. My variety has increased drastically in the past couple years. All this new culture combined with all these great food blogs. 🙂

    Caitlin – Great, glad I could serve as inspiration! 🙂 It is really good.

    Sapuche – I’d love to try it in a sweet rice dish. I may have to try that. Brown rice only has the outer hull removed in processing so it has a lot of nutritional value. From what I read, black rice has more iron, but that iron is also has less bioavailability. The black rice is more unique it its anthocyanin content, but I haven’t researched wild rice that much.

    lesley and Darius – Yes, do try it. I’m sure you will like it!

    kat – Yeah, I would say it is similar to wild rice, but the nutty flavor was even more intense in black rice to me.

    healthy ashley – It does have an exotic, yet hearty look to it, doesn’t it?

  • Sweta April 1, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Ever tried “Parboiled” rice?It’s a process wherein the rice has already been boiled with the husk on and then later dried and sold.Each grain of rice is bulged(hence it has been nick named “bullet-rice” by my hubby).It’s quite popular in Southern parts of India.Not only is it more nutritious than the regular rice,but the best part is that since the grains are so swollen after cooking,one tends to eat less!

  • Meg April 1, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Black rice is yummy and I love forbidden rice pudding!

  • April 2, 2009 at 9:04 am

    I’ve never tried black rice — but you certainly have me wanting to. I’ll have to look for it at the Asian market next time I go! Great post.

  • Denise April 2, 2009 at 9:06 am

    I’ve never tried black rice…just thought it looked funny. Maybe I’ll give it a try. Thanks for testing it out for us!

  • Lori April 3, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Sweta – I have tried parboiled rice, but wasn’t up to date on all the unique nutrition profile. Thanks for the info!

    Meg – Glad you like it. I really did too.

    Chefbliss and Denise – Give it a try for sure. It is definitely a nice variation, something different for a change. 🙂

  • Anonymous January 8, 2010 at 11:22 am

    Hi, when you soak it, does it stain the water a lot?

    And when you break a grain, what is the colour inside? Is it white or purple-black?

  • Lori January 8, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Hi there – It does stain the water when it is cooking. Honestly I can’t remember what the inside was. I think it was purple/black. I’m going to buy more soon and I’ll let you know!