Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Wild Rice

When you think about it, we eat grains all the time. In the west we tend to rely on wheat as our sole source of grain with the occasional flirtation with rice. Toast and/or cereal for breakfast, a piece of cake or muffin at morning tea; a sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner. All these meals are wheat based, and most highly refined at that. What a shame when there are so many more grains to choose from! Many of which are highly suitable for people who find that refined white flour is no longer a friend.

I've written here before about millet, quinoa and buckwheat. But wait...there's more!

There's RICE (of course), but so many varieties - brown, medium-, short- and long-grain, basmati, Arborio, wild (the beautiful black grain of Native America) and more; CORN - both fresh from the cob and cornmeal; AMARANTH - an Aztec grain, tiny and somewhat similar to quinoa; MILLET; QUINOA; BUCKWHEAT - a quicker meal than brown rice and just as wholesome. Then there are the better forms of wheat - OATS; BARLEY; RYE; and the ancient SPELT (often called FARRO in Italy) and KAMUT.

As much as I would like to be able to include a huge variety of grains in my everyday cooking, in reality I don't like them all. And some of them are just too heavy - whole rye is chewy and sour and tastes too healthy to me. Oats are wonderful for cooking in sweet things and I am loving buckwheat as it gets colder, but I like quinoa and rice best of all. That's enough variety, with wholemeal wheat, pasta and couscous, for me.

Wild rice, which was really fashionable in the eighties (I remember my mum cooking with it and it seemed so grown-up and exotic), is expensive in Australia. But when incorporated in small amounts with a basmati or brown rice pilaf it is absolutely divine and, therefore, more economical. The grain itself is beautiful, and the smell while it is cooking is so incredible, so heavenly...

Basic cooked wild rice - enough to feed 2-3 with basmati rice

½ cup of organic wild rice (I got it in the local supermarket)

1 ¼ cups of water of vegetable stock

½ tablespoon of unsalted butter or toasted sesame oil

Pinch of sea salt

Rinse the rice under cold water in a sieve. Combine the water or stock, butter or oil and sea salt in a heavy based saucepan and bring to a boil.

Add the rice and return to the boil. Lower the heat to the gentlest of simmers and cover with a lid. Cook, covered, for 45-55 minutes, by which time some of the grains will have burst apart - this is how you know that the rice is ready. Remove from the heat and rest, covered, for about 5-10 minutes before fluffing up with a fork.

Now you can add it to cooked basmati rice or, if you are feeling indulgent, eat on its own as a wonderful meal for one.

No comments: