Fall just hit the Pacific Northwest like an egg hitting the kitchen floor, just all tra-la-la ooo the leaves are turning and then SPLAT.
It is one of the things I just never could tolerate about Los Angeles. It was exciting when it rained, but that is not the same. That is the difference between a single freak wave and a hurricane. There isn’t the feeling of hunkering down for the long haul. Knowing that the weak won’t survive. Knowing that I will come out victorious, the terrifying magnificence of newt-lady DNA come to bloom for all to see.
Oh wait, I mean rice. Rice!
I often see recipes for “sticky rice” or “sweet rice” and like most white people, assume they mean for dessert. For some reason it didn’t occur to me that they were talking about the same rice inside my favorite dimsum treat, the sticky rice inside a banana leaf, which is traditionally made with meat and mushrooms.
I found some “sweet rice” at my local small Asian grocery (here’s what the package looks like, but I purchased a smaller 5lb bag), as well as a bag of Japanese red bean (azuki or sometimes adzuki beans – these are also quite easy to find, Bob’s Red Mill even sells them) to make a traditional Japanese rice dish often served for special occasions. And I have to tell you dudes, I did not anticipate this rice being so seriously excellent.
The sweet rice is not actually sweet, but sticky. I mean sticky sticky. But it isn’t slimy or mushy, instead pleasntly chewy. It’s very hard to describe, other than to say that I am in love. Twoo wuv.
You can pick up a corner of your rice pile, and the whole rest comes with it! This is not appetizing, I know, but it’s too bizarre not to show you. They’re like magnets.
If you’ve ever had red bean paste-filled Asian treats, like mochi or sweet buns, you know what azuki beans taste like. They taste like beans. But something magical did happen in my rice cooker, and I’m not at liberty to understand it. I can only say that I now know why such a humble dish is served at special occasions. And why there are now six portions stashed in my freezer, because I consider every dinner to be a special occasion.
Japanese red beans are absolutely not the same thing as American kidney beans. do not substitute. and the sweet rice is totally unlike any rice i’ve ever had. i truly cannot describe how delightfully chewy and satisfying it is. i used Just Hungry’s recipe straight up minus some volume adjustments (hers makes a lot of rice), but i will reprint it here anyway.
2 rice cups of sweet rice*
1/3 cup dry azuki beans
1/4 teaspoon salt
*Note that “rice cups” are 180ml cups that come with all ricemakers, as is Japanese tradition, and hold about 3/4 cups rice. To convert to US measurement if you don’t have a ricemaker, the total rice AND water volume is 1 1/2 cups each.
- Really, really wash the dry rice. Wash wash it. Wash it until when submerged in a bowl of water, the water remains clear. Then let it soak overnight in this water. OVERNIGHT. Anything shorter is folly.
- The next day, drain the rice of it’s soaking water. Cook the beans: cover the 1/3 cup of beans with about 3 cups of water, and then simmer over low heat — really, you don’t want the beans spinning around in the water, just barely dancing — for about 30-45 minutes, or until you can smash a bean between your fingers. It’s okay if they are just a titch undercooked, they will cook further in the rice. Drain and keep the bean water. Add enough tap water to make 2 rice cups water total. Place the soaked rice, the bean water and the beans into a ricemaker and cook as you would a regular pot of rice.
- To serve, note that the rice has better texture when it has cooled off a little. Fluff carefully as you would any rice, and then let your bowl sit at room temperature for a few minutes before eating.
October 17th, 2012 | Make It So