What's Fabulous: Red Rice
A beautiful short-grained rice with excellent flavor
Red rice, or riz rouge, is increasingly easy-to-find in our markets. It's usually sold pre-bagged and is imported from either the French Camargue region or the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan.
It is a short-grain rice with a surface that's starchier than most other rices and is a beautiful russet red color. It has a slightly nutty flavor and a texture that remains firm even after it's cooked. Unlike Italian short-grained risotto rices -- Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone Nano -- that take slow cooking to absorb any liquid (thus the cooking principle of risotto), red rice cooks in the more common method; all the liquid is added at once and then simmered either on top of the stove or in the oven for 20 minutes. This makes it a realistic choice for weekday dinners.
Cooking with Red Rice
Red rice is a great choice for:
- Red rice pilaf (see our recipe)
- Risotto, although it will cook faster than if you were using an Arborio rice
- A farci, or stuffing, for vegetables like zucchini or peppers
- A turkey or capon stuffing, mixed with mushrooms that have been sautéed with finely minced onions
- A rice salad with pieces of room temperature poached or roasted salmon and diced raw vegetables
Remember that rice takes on the flavors of whatever you cook it with, so think about the flavor of your chicken stock or the fresh herbs you may have on hand. With its more robust flavor, red rice will partner well with many fish, meat and poultry flavors.
Where to Buy It
Red rice is increasingly easy to find in our city markets. The most common brand is a Bhutanese red rice distributed by Lotus Foods. A 15 oz. bag should cost between $4.00 and $5.00, although shop around because prices can vary significantly.