Thursday, February 13, 2020

the emperor rice

Besides the Italian famous white rice, the Piedmont rice paddies also produce black and red rice.

riso nero integrale or whole black rice

Traditionally, Italians use their rice variants for different specialties and cooking styles according to the grain length and bran coating.
Although risotto is a cooking style and not a rice variant, Italians prefer to use short grain rice  variants like Arborio and Carnaroli because of their easy availability.
Longer grain variants are preferred for soups and summer rice salads, while the whole rices are quite a dietary novelty.

In Italy, you won't easily find brown rice in the restaurant menus as Italians tend to cook it at home when on a diet. On the other hand, black and red rice are becoming trendier and much more popular 😀

Black rice has been around since ancient China where it was known as the rice of the emperor  or 'forbidden rice' because its consumption was reserved to the royalty so rare and rich in nutrients it was. In fact, it is the richest food in anthocyanins, packed in vitamins and minerals: the bran is loaded with antioxidants and the black grains contain selenium, iron, calcium, zinc and manganese.

Black rice like all rice variants is gluten free and very low in calories, only 346 kcal per 100gr, 
In Piedmont, in the Vercelli and Novara areas, since 1997 we have been growing riso Venere or Venus rice, a crossbreeding of an Italian variant with an Asian one.

Black rice is rather different from the more common white rice, it takes 30 to 40min to boil, it can't be used to make risotto and it keeps it crunchiness. Even though by itself black rice contains all the nutrients you need for a healthy diet, thanks to is nutty flavor it is usually added to salads and ethnic dishes.
We added to our soups and enjoyed with salmon sashimi too and you can also make breads, puddings, porridge, desserts and noodles.

Because unlike white rice, black rice doesn't undergo any refinement process, it is the perfect food to boost health, the functionality of many organs like: heart, skin, eyes, brain, reduce inflammation, prevent cancer and diabetes.
It is also detoxifies the liver, it is rich in proteins, it boosts metabolism and lowers the LDL - bad cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

Similarly red rice is very healthy, rich in anthocyanins, fibers, vitamins and minerals thanks to the hull or outer bran coat.
The Vercelli area here in Piedmont is home to:

  • the Ermes variant: a crossbreeding of Venus black rice and a white long grain rice
  • wild red rice, it grows spontaneously without cultivation and thus it's organic and without GMOs. It has only 169 kcal per 100gr
Wild red rice has sweet notes that make it perfect to pair with meat, fish and curry.

Photo courtesy of Fit Mi Vida

Besides delicious, white rice is elegant and superb, but the black and red variants from Piedmont give you the opportunity to try new pairings, recipes, flavors all while boosting your health!

Come over to Piedmont and Turin to explore the places where our rice variants originated, to savor our traditional local recipes 😋 while keeping the rice terroir with our regional wines and other native ingredients!

Plan your rice travel with Lucia:

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