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Sunday, 3 April 2011

Multicoloured spicy rice

This dish was not something that made with the intention of blogging.  It was more of a serendipitous creation, born from disorganisation and a certain degree of laziness (welcome to my world) that turned out really really good.  Essentially, after staring into the fridge for about 5 minutes wondering what to have for dinner, I made a dish using pretty much everything I could find. Discussions over what to name this dish led to the following brilliant quote: “oh rainbow rice isn’t a stupid name, but then again, my High School mascot was a unicorn.” And so, ‘rainbow unicorn rice’ was born.

I love cooking with red cabbage because of the way it turns everything purple without taking over the whole dish – like beetroot can do.  What is also brilliant – and I strongly recommend, is cooking rice with bits in, similar to this, but putting half a can of coconut milk in to boil with it – the addition of the red cabbage turns the whole thing a wonderful lilac colour, and the gloopiness of the coconut milk really does make it a bit like eating rice cooked in some sort of emulsion paint – tastes much better though – add some nam pla (thai fish sauce) for extra, coconut balancing, oomph.

Red rice is brilliant, with a complex, nutty flavour and chewy texture.  Its a bit like brown rice, but doesn’t take as long to cook.  The brand I have is Merchant Gourmet – but don’t let that put you off, it was not expensive and just in the regular rice/couscous section in Sainsburys.  I first had red rice in a delicious salad I bought from M & S, where it was mixed with cooked salmon and edamame beans.  It is also much more filling than white rice.  Edamame beans would have been a fantastic addition to this dish to, but for the past year I have had real trouble finding them (those birdseye packets that used to be next to the peas in supermarkets)– does anyone know what happened to them/ where I can find them?  I added some raw vegetable crunch in the form of celery and spring onion.  These kept it tasting very fresh and juicy.  Some carrots would have been a nice addition too.

This was enough to make about 5 portions – and would stretch further if having it as an accompaniment to something else.  I ate left over rice for lunch for a few days, and it reheated really well, with the rice not going dry and the celery keeping its crunch.  Some of its purple brilliance did diminish a little bit, but that would be my only criticism.


·     1 cup red rice
·     1 cup white rice

Veggies and things
·     Some red cabbage, chopped quite small between ¼ and 1/8 of a whole one.
·     2 peppers of different colours.  I used red and green, cut up into chunks – not too small so that they disintegrate.
·     Medium onion, chopped
·     Big handful of beansprouts
·     Small handful of salted peanuts, roughly chopped
·     Block of tofu, cut into cubes  (alternatively, quorn chicken pieces, white fish or chicken)
·     2 sticks celery, sliced quite thinly
·     2 spring onions, chopped

Sauces and flavourings
·     Teriyaki sauce (or equivalent – a recent discovery of mine is kecap manis, a sweet thick Indonesian soy sauce which comes in a handy squeezy bottle)
·     Soy sauce
·     Sake
·     Lemon/lime juice
·     West Indian style chilli sauce (made with habanero/ scotch bonnect chillis, which have a very fruity flavour, as well as being really, really hot).  If you do not have this, use 1 thinly sliced red chilli (remove most of the seeds) or some chilli powder, and a glug of orange juice.  For sweetness, you could add some sweet chilli sauce too (instead).
·     Ginger – a slice of a big root, about 0.5cm thick, finely chopped
·     Big handful of fresh coriander, chopped

For the tofu: Preheat the grill.  Arrange the tofu in 1 layer on a tray.  Pour some teriyaki sauce over the tofu and grill until its browned and a little bit crispy.  It will take between 5 and 10 minutes but keep an eye on it, turning the cubes over halfway.

For the rest: Put the red rice in a large saucepan, with about 3 cups of water  bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer (lid on).  After about 15-20 minutes, add the cabbage, onion, peppers , white rice and a glug of sake.  You may need to add another cup of water at this point.  Simmer for another 10 or so minutes, add the beansprouts to the top and leave to steam for a minute or two.  Meanwhile, put the celery and spring onions in a large bowl with the chopped up ginger, 2 spoonfuls of soy sauce, another spoonful of sake and the juice of a lime/ ½ a lemon.  When the rice/veg mix is ready (hopefully there will be hardly any liquid left) add it to the big bowl and mix it all together with a dessertspoonful of chilli sauce and the chopped coriander and peanuts.  Serve with the tofu scattered artfully over the top.

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