This whole thing came about because I wanted to try out Chinese black rice, aka “forbidden” rice. I’ve got a recipe for a Thai chicken soup that has black rice added before serving, which I’ll be cooking next week, but first off I just wanted to make a big batch of the stuff and serve some kind of stir-fry over the top. The leftovers can be used for the soup in a couple of days.
“Forbidden” rice is a whole grain rice that’s dark purple in colour, which means it’s full of vitamins and anti-oxidants and stuff. Whatever. I just love whole grains, and this is a good addition to my usual roster. I let it soak in cold water for about half an hour, rinsed it off (the water ran deep purple), then cooked it in the rice cooker. It needs a ratio of about 2:1 when it comes to water.
So, what to serve over it? I decided I wanted something wintery, so I settled on sweet potatoes, whose sweet nutty flavour should work well over this rice, along with some tofu and greens.
I recently learned Mark Bittman’s “braise and glaze” method, and I’ve been using it for a variety of root vegetables, so I decided to do an Asian-inspired take on it for my sweet potatoes. It went a little like this:
- 1 large sweet potato, cut into chunks
- garlic and ginger, minced
- soy sauce
Throw the oil in the wok and add the garlic and ginger, stirring them briefly, then add the sweet potatoes and about half a cup of water with a good dash of soy sauce in it. Put a lid on the wok and simmer on low, turning the sweet potatoes occasionally, until they’re soft enough to stick a fork in. You might need to add a little more water/soy mix if the pan dries out before they’re done. When they’re soft enough, take the lid off and boil off the liquid, stirring the sweet potatoes through the thickening sauce. Set aside.
Once the sweet potatoes were pre-cooked, I set about making the actual stir-fry.
- ginger and garlic, minced (to taste; I used about 1 tblsp of each)
- 3 spring onions, chopped (white and green sections)
- sweet potato, pre-cooked (as above)
- firm fried tofu, cut into chunks
- asian greens, roughly chopped and rinsed (I used 4 heads of pak choy, almost a whole colander-full)
- soy sauce
- oyster sauce (vegetarian OK)
- Chinese cooking wine
- toasted sesame oil
- toasted sesame seeds
Pre-mix some sauce using 1 part soy sauce, 1 part oyster sauce, and 2 parts Chinese cooking wine. You want a total amount of, oh, maybe 1/3 cup. I use this as a base for a lot of my stir-fries and it’s pretty flexible; just stick your finger in and have a taste and you’ll figure out how you like it. Since this is a sesame-oriented stir-fry, you can also add a little sesame oil and give it a quick whisk.
Put the wok over a hot flame and get some cooking oil hot. Toss in the ginger, garlic and spring onions. Give them a quick stir then throw in the tofu and half of the sauce. Stir-fry quickly, heating the tofu through and covering it in sauce.
Add the pre-cooked sweet potatoes, and stir-fry until they’re warm through (if you only just cooked them, you need only spend a moment on this). Then toss in all the greens along with the rest of the sauce, stir them through so they’re mingled with the rest, and put the lid on the wok for about half a minute. This will steam/wilt the greens a little, making them easier to stir. Give them another toss until they’re as done as you like. Sprinkle sesame seeds and a little more sesame oil and serve over rice.