On a recent trip to Baguio City, my friends and I had, for our first meal, a dish of wild rice. With its variety of textures and flavors, the dish was not only a real palate tickler, it also became a conversation piece.
There was the crunchiness of the vegetables (thankfully not overcooked), the chewiness of the rice, and the tenderness of the chicken mingling with the earthy flavors of the mushrooms and the sweetness of the raisins.
Strictly speaking, wild rice is not really rice but a kind of grass grown in the Great Lakes region of the US. However, I guess if you combine black rice, red mountain rice and other rice varieties in one dish, you could call it wild rice (as in rice gone wild).
Based on that dish, I’ve created a recipe using three kinds of rice and a consortium of other ingredients to add flavor and texture to the dish. With chicken, shrimps, carrots, mushrooms, nuts and dried fruit in the mixture, you get a different texture and a different flavor in every spoonful. It’s anything but boring.
For the rice:
½ c brown rice, uncooked
½ c red rice, uncooked
½ c white rice, uncooked
½ tsp salt
1 ½ c water + additional for cooking the chicken, shrimps and carrots
1 large chicken breast
½ k medium shrimps
1 large (or 2 medium) carrot/s, sliced into strips
4-6 tbsp butter
1 c sliced button mushrooms
1 medium onion, minced
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 c raisins
1 c almonds
1 c dried mangoes or dried apricots, cut into bite-size pieces
Salt and pepper
Day before serving:
Wash the brown rice, red rice and white rice, then drain off water. Put them together in a rice cooker. Add the ½ teaspoon salt. Pour in the one-and-a-half cups water (1 ½ cups rice = 1 ½ cups water). Turn on the rice cooker. When rice is fully cooked, transfer it to a large bowl or container. Cover and set aside or refrigerate overnight.
One to two hours before serving:
Season the chicken breast lightly with salt. Cook the chicken in just enough water to cover. Remove from water. Let cool slightly, then slice into bite-size pieces. Set aside.
Cook the shrimps in one-half cup water just until it turns an even pinkish-orange color from head to tail. Peel the shrimps and remove the heads and black veins on the backs of the shrimps. Set aside. Cook the carrots in boiling water for about one minute then transfer quickly into a bowl of ice water. Let sit in water for about 1 minute then drain the carrots. Set aside.
In a large wok or casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter to medium heat. Sauté the mushrooms until brown and tender, then remove from the pan. Add 2 more tablespoons butter to the pan and sauté the onions for one to two minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, around one minute.
Stir in the previously prepared three kinds of rice, the chicken breast, mushrooms, carrots, raisins, almonds and dried mangoes or apricots and season with salt and pepper. Add the shrimps. If desired, blend in 2 more tablespoons butter. Mix until ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the rice. Remove from heat and serve warm.
Makes 6-8 servings.
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You can use other combinations of rice varieties: black, violet and white rice, for instance, or brown, black and red rice. Just make sure that if you’re going to cook them together, they all require the same amount of water and the same amount of cooking time. Otherwise, cook them separately and just combine the rice varieties after they’re cooked.
You can also use other kinds of nuts such as pecans, walnuts or cashews.
This makes a splendid one-dish meal and, because it’s easy to pack while providing a variety of flavors, it’s also good to bring as baon and as picnic food.
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