Here’s a rice with benefits worth knowing about. Yes, rice is a staple in much of the world—it comes in a variety of strains from white, to brown, and even black. I’m late coming to the rice party, perhaps reluctant, in thinking it lacked nutritional value. That was until I became acquainted with black rice.
Black rice, often referred to as Emperor’s Rice in China, harkens back to ancient times when it was prized for its medicinal attributes and thought to contribute to longevity. So rare, it was reserved as tribute food for those of the highest status.
Times have changed and these days strains of black rice are available throughout Asia—where it is recognized as a source of anthocyanins, those coveted antioxidant wielding phytochemicals found in blueberries and acai. Interestingly, its black color transforms into a muted purple when cooked.
Black rice is considered a whole grain since the husk and germ remain in tact. It has more fiber and protein than brown rice and is also gluten-free. Studies have found black rice may reduce cancer, act as an anti-inflammatory, and even help with memory functions. Its toasty flavor and chewy texture are reminiscent of wild rice.
On the stove top, black rice can take up to an hour to cook, but I’ve come up with a more efficient method. I discovered Forbidden Rice from Lotus Foods, a heritage black rice that cooks in 30 minutes and now available in most well stocked markets.
Soaking rice also reduces cooking time. It’s worth noting than many sources believe the addition of an acid such as lemon juice during the soaking process is helpful in removing phytic acid, which can inhibit mineral absorption.
In tandem with presoaking, steaming black rice in the Instant Pot or other pressure cooker can cut cooking time down to a mere 12 minutes. Once the pot is disconnected, a 6 minute natural release of pressure has just enough residual heat to finish the cooking process and allow a brief rest to separate and swell the rice.
The prepared rice is ready to use in any recipe calling for cooked rice. Forbidden Rice is not regarded as a sticky rice, but it does hold together when necessary. Here, Zucchini Rice Patties assemble quickly for a tasty appetizer, a nutritious side dish, or entrée. They shine with a squeeze of lemon, or dress them up with raita or other light yogurt sauce.
They are even good the next day topped with an egg.
Zucchini Rice Patties
1 medium zucchini or summer squash, (1 generous cup, grated)
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp green onion, fine chop
2 Tbsp parsley or 1 tsp fresh minced thyme, dill or fennel fronds
1 egg, beaten
½ tsp each salt and pepper
1 cup cooked black, brown, or white rice (see below)
¼ cup flour + ½ tsp baking powder, approx.
2-3 Tbsp vegetable oil
- Place grated zucchini and salt in a strainer lined with paper toweling or a coffee filter to draw out excess liquid. Let drain 30 minutes and squeeze well.
- Combine the zucchini with green onion and herbs; add the egg, salt and pepper. Lightly blend in the rice. Stir in enough flour and baking powder to thicken and bind.
- Divide heaping tablespoons into 6-8 rounds and shape into patties.
- Heat skillet over moderate heat with enough oil to coat bottom of pan. Add patties, gently flatten and cook 3 minutes per side until lightly browned. Drain on toweling. Cook in batches if necessary. Makes 6-8 patties.
- Serve with lemon, raita or yogurt herb sauce.
To presoak Forbidden Rice
1 cup Forbidden Rice
1 cup water
1 Tbsp lemon juice (optional)
Rinse and drain rice.
Combine lemon juice and water and pour over the rice. Cover and let stand 7-8 hours. Use as is or rinse and drain.
To cook soaked Forbidden Rice in Instant Pot
1¾ cup water, divided
Lower trivet into liner; pour in 1 cup water and set pot to Sauté Normal to begin preheating.
In a heat proof dish or steamer, spread the soaked rice in bottom and add a pinch of salt; barely cover it with ¾ cup water. Cover with foil or a lid and set on trivet.
Seal pot and manually set to Hi Pressure for 12 minutes. When complete, turn off pot and disconnect; let pressure release naturally for 6 minutes. Carefully remove lid and lift out cooking container.
Fluff rice with fork and proceed as needed. Yields 3-4 cups.