Chanterelles with Black Rice

Forbidden rice (black rice) gets its name from ancient days when it was exclusively reserved for the Chinese Emperors and  royalty to ensure their longevity and good health. Eventually, common people were allowed to eat this “forbidden” rice and now it’s a nourishing staple that is treasured for it’s nutty flavor, soft texture, and dramatic color. The beautiful deep purple/black color is the result of plant pigments called anthocyanins (also found in blueberries and açai), which research has linked to a number of positive health benefits. Black rice is reputed to promote long life and good health.

A couple of weeks ago I was gifted with a small bag of black rice. I wasn’t are what to make with it at first. It’s so striking that I wanted something unique. I finally decided to adapt Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe. In it he makes this dish using black glutinous rice that requires overnight soaking and is a bit more starchy. My black rice was fast and easy cooking variety and didn’t require soaking. When you buy black rice, make sure you read the instructions on the package to cook appropriately and know if yours will require advance soaking. If you can’t get a hold of chanterelle mushrooms, oyster mushrooms can be used instead.

Seared Chanterelles with Black Mushrooms
Serves about 4

2½ tablespoon olive oil, plus extra to finish
6 shallots, peeled and chopped
2 lemons, rind shaved in long strips from one, ½ tsp grated lemon zest, plus extra to finish
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt and black pepper
1 cup / 200g black rice
1 1/2 lb / 600 g chanterelles, brushed clean
1½ teaspoon truffle oil
1 teaspoon unsalted butter (I used vegan butter)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
salt and pepper

Pour a tablespoon of the oil into a medium saucepan. Add the shallots, lemon skin, thyme, bay leaf, half a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper, and place on a medium-low heat. Cook for five to six minutes, until the shallots are soft. Add black rice to the pan. Add 1 2/3 cup or 400ml of water, bring to a boil, reduce to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the rice is well cooked. Remove and discard the lemon, thyme and bay, and keep the rice somewhere warm until serving.

Pour the remaining oil into a frying pan and add the chanterelles, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and some black pepper. Sauté for about five minutes, stirring so that the mushroom take on some color all over, then remove the pan from the heat and add the truffle oil, butter, grated lemon zest, lemon juice and tarragon.

To serve, spoon the black rice on to individual plates, top with the mushrooms and drizzle a little more olive oil over the top, optional, and scatter on some more grated lemon zest.

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