This is one of the most aesthetically pleasing entrées I have ever made. In addition to the glorious colors, this dish is filled with history, sensuality, and nutrition—not bad for an early autumn supper!
Black forbidden rice is not as imposing as it sounds. The “forbidden” part stems from ancient China, when only the emperor was allowed to eat it. Black rice was believed to have healing powers and to be a powerful aphrodisiac. Commoners caught with it faced the death penalty.
But there’s nothing forbidding about preparing it. It has the ability to turn a stir-fry into a showcase. Just don’t overcook it or it will bleed and turn purple (which is not bad either; it’s also sometimes called “purple rice”).
Although white rice gets a nutritional bad rap (the level of carbohydrates are about the same), removing the husk, bran, and germ does lower the fiber content. One-quarter cup of black rice contains 160 calories and only 1.5 grams of fat. It’s loaded with protein, iron, and fiber.
And if you’ve been hearing about arsenic in rice—relax! Yes, rice contains trace amounts of arsenic. So does your drinking water. You’d need to eat about 400 pounds of rice in one sitting to get a lethal dose, at which point arsenic would be the least of your problems!
Peaches are perfect right now, just past the height of the season and bursting with flavor. They add color and sweetness to the dish. In addition, peaches are high in fiber, potassium, and vitamins C and A. Tip: Cooking with slightly under-ripe peaches will hold up better to the heat.
An infusion of fresh ginger while cooking the rice not only adds flavor, but more nutrition. Fresh ginger aids with digestion, increases appetite, and cleanses the palate between every bite.
The dressing is light, tasty and nutritious—full of flavor, yet light on calories.
Black Forbidden Rice with Shrimp and Peaches
-2 c. black forbidden rice
-1 inch ginger root, peeled and diced
-3½ c. water
-2 T., plus ¼ c., grapeseed or olive oil
-1½ lbs. peeled raw shrimp
-2½ c. sugar snap peas, cut into chunks
-3 firm peaches cut into wedges
-¼ c. rice vinegar
-3 T. honey
-1 T. soy sauce (or tamari for a gluten-free option)
In a medium saucepan, boil the rice and ginger in three and a half cups of water. Reduce heat, cover pan, and cook until rice is tender (approximately 25 minutes). Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
Heat two tablespoons oil and cook the shrimp until they are opaque (about four to five minutes per side).
Add snap peas and cook for two minutes until tender. Add peaches and cook for two to three minutes.
To make the dressing, mix the vinegar, ¼ cup of oil, honey, and soy/tamari sauce in a medium bowl, and blend until smooth. Pour over the rice mixture, add shrimp and veggies, and enjoy!