Black rice pudding, as the name implies, is a pudding made with black rice. The black rice that is used is black rice from China and other parts of Asia, which is a glutinous, or “sticky” rice. It is often made with coconut milk, instead of dairy milk, the way rice pudding is usually made in the United States.
Black sticky, or glutinous rice, grows not only in China, but in Thailand and Vietnam. Since it is used in many parts of Asia it goes by many names, including Thai Black Sticky Rice. It is also sometimes called purple sticky rice, as the color is actually more a dark purple than black.
The bran of the rice, which is the fibrous outer covering, but the inner starchy part of the grain, or endosperm, is actually white. It is the endosperm which is sticky, but since the rice is not polished and the bran is intact, the rice grains do not stick to one another when cooked.
Once cooked, the grains become a deep purple. The color, when uncooked, can vary somewhat. It could easily be confused with Wild Rice, but it cooks easier and is also not as costly as wild rice, which although related, is not a true rice.
Black sticky rice available in the U.S. is imported from Thailand.
There is another type of Chinese black rice which is not sticky, and which is sold in the states as Forbidden Rice. Unlike most black rice, Forbidden Rice is not a sticky rice.
When you cook with black sticky rice, the water turns a dark purple color. This leads some people to suspect that there are artificial colorants added to the rice that are leaching out into the water. This is not true. The coloring comes from anthocyanins, similar to the deep blue to black colors found in some berries, such as blueberries, and in many fruits and vegetables. These anthocyanins are contained in the pericarp, which, along with the aleurone, makes up the outer bran of the rice grain.
Although black rice pudding can be made with black sticky rice alone, it will have a harder texture. Therefore, the black rice is often combined with a white (polished) rice, such as white glutinous rice, which is better known as Thai sticky rice. When you cook black rice along with a white rice, the white rice will turn a beautiful purple color.
A black rice pudding is healthier than a white rice pudding, because of the presence of the fibrous and nutritious bran. Unlike white sticky rice alone, which has a sweet starchy flavor, the black rice gives a slightly earthy flavor along with the chewy sweetness.
As explained in the article about sticky rice, celiac sufferers should know that the term “glutinous” has nothing to do with gluten and no rice contains gluten. Glutionous is nothing more than an adjective which describes something having a sticky or gummy texture. It is similar to the word glue. The sticky and gummy texture of sticky rice comes from the high proportion of a starch called amylopectin, which, as opposed to amylose, which most rices are high in, has a stickier texture and sweeter taste.
In parts of Southeast Asia and in Thailand, black sticky rice pudding is made simply with water and sugar, but then topped with coconut cream to serve as a dessert, or mixed with coconut milk. Black sticky rice, of course, can be used in many other dishes besides desserts. Below is a recipe for Thai Black Sticky Rice Pudding
Thai Black Sticky Rice Pudding (Khao Neow Dam Piak)
1/3 cup black sticky rice (See Golden Anchor Brand Black Glutinous Rice)
1/3 cup white sticky rice (can be found in most large supermarkets in the international section)
1/3 cup sugar (palm sugar can be used)
3 cups water
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Rinse and drain both the rices, checking for any pebbles or other debri. In a large saucepan, combine the black and white rice with the water and sugar. Bring to a boil on high heat, stirring frequently. Once the mixture comes to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender and the mixture is creamy. Add 1/4 cup of the coconut milk and the vanilla (if desired) and cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes.
Serve with some of the reserved coconut milk spooned over the top, as a garnish.
This pudding can be eaten hot or cold.
For an even more authentic experience, cook the rice with one and omit the vanilla. Pandan leaves can often be found in Asian markets and are used in many Asian countries, as well as India. You can also purchase Dried Pandanus Leaves through Amazon. Their flavor and aroma goes well with coconut milk, and they are often used in Thai and Malaysian curries.
For another, more involved recipe for Black Sticky Rice Pudding see Thai Food and Travel. This recipe calls for soaking the rice overnight, then cooking over steam in a small amount of water. The coconut milk is made into a sauce, and the pudding is garnished with either sesame seeds or shredded coconut, and strawberries.
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