Glossy black grains of rice stuck to our daughter’s baby cheeks has become a familiar sight as she so loves this inky pudding. Any Asian supermarket should sell black rice from either Indonesia or Thailand. It is packed with nutrients and has a great nuttiness, but needs long soaking to soften the pre-packed hulls before cooking. I like the rice not too sweet (do add more palm sugar if you’d prefer) and a luscious topping of salty coconut cream provides the perfect unctuous contrast.
Fire Islands by Eleanor Ford (Murdoch Books, £25). Photography by Kristin Perers
Rice Pudding Ingredients Serves: 4
- Wash the rice well in several changes of water, picking out any grit or husks. Leave to soak in cold water overnight.
- Drain the water and wash the rice again. Put in a pan with 800 ml (3¼ cups) water and the pandan leaves. Bubble uncovered over a medium heat for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you have a soft, porridge-like rice pudding. Depending on your rice, it may need more water and longer cooking for the grains to yield.
- Discard the pandan leaves and stir in the palm sugar. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring, for a final 5 minutes. Leave to cool to room temperature. Mix a pinch of salt into the coconut cream and serve in a jug to drizzle cool white over inky black.
- Make homemade toasted coconut cream for a nutty, complex, slightly smoky flavour. Start with pieces of mature coconut fresh removed from the shell. Set the brown skin of the coconut over a naked flame until it toasts and nearly blackens (scrape o. any very black bits). Grate the coconut and skin very finely and mix with an equal quantity of water and a pinch of salt. Sit for a few minutes, then massage and squeeze to extract as much oil and flavour as possible from the coconut. Strain into a jug.