When I think about cooking risotto, I think about the proper rice, like Arborio, Padano, Carnaroli and others. Those are the rice types with the proper amount of starch which allows the rice to absorb better the liquids, making it dense and creamy, like a risotto must be. This rice types are thus cultivated for their consistency and less for their flavour. That is why, when I think of risotto, I think of them, but when I think of rice, I never think of risotto. Then I prefer the succulent types where the taste is more vivid and accentuated, like basmati or wild rice.
The reason why wild rice is not used more often is not known to me. It has a special taste without being too strong. It also offers a unique structure and experience for the palate. Although the zizania aquatica linnaeus plant is related to the african and asian oryza plants, they are different. The grass of the zizania is used as a vegetable in China, while in Europe and the Americas we use its black-coated seed with gourmet status. Even if the oryzas were left to grow wild, they would never provide this rice.
From the first times I used wild rice it was always the one sold mixed with white rice. That is common in all markets and countries I know. Perhaps it is a matter of keeping the price down, but on the other hand, I would never mix normal rice with basmati rice. Thus I try buying only wild rice instead of mixtures.
A couple of days ago I cooked some to make a salad. I find that cooked foods in their cold state have a different taste. If you wish to try it, here is the recipe:
200 g wild rice
- about 350 ml water
- one onion
- two or three tomatoes
- 100 ml white wine
- 1/3 teaspoon cocoa powder for baking (additional)
- one teaspoon of espresso
- about 7 basil leaves
- one or two tablespoons of high-quality orange juice
- some olive oil
This is the very first time I made wild rice as a salad, although I have cooked it for many years. Each time I cooked it, it bothered me that it took long to cook but at the end I always felt it was not cooked enough. It never occurred to me before to soak it in water in advance, until now. Simply 30 minutes in cold water is a great help. Once taken out, discard of the water completely and with a small amount of olive oil heat it in a pan. After two minutes add the chopped onions for another 2 minutes. Add then the wine, the coffee and the cocoa and mix all very well. As soon as the wine has been absorbed, add water and cook covered about 25 minutes. Let it cool off. Chop the tomatoes and the basil leaves, mix them with olive oil, orange juice and a bit of salt and arrange with the rice on a plate.
May it give you and your palate lots of pleasure!