From Thailand to Bali, wherever there is black rice, it seems to be prepared with coconut milk and palm sugar to make desserts, snacks and breakfast treats. Black rice can be prepared as long as 8 hours ahead and kept at room temperature, well covered. Do not place it in the refrigerator, as it will dry out and harden. Recipe adapted from Seductions of Rice by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid (Artisan Books 1998).
Makes 6 to 8 servings as dessert or sweet snack
1 cup Thai black rice, soaked for 12 to 24 hours in plenty of water
1 cup long-grain Thai sticky rice, soaked with the black rice
2 cups canned coconut milk
1/3 cup palm sugar or brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Sliced fresh peach, mango, star fruit, kiwi or other soft tart-sweet fruit (optional)
Heavy cream, for garnish (optional)
Place the rice in a steamer or a large sieve lined with cheesecloth or a tea towel. Place the steamer over a pot of water; the water must not touch the rice. Bring to a vigorous boil. Steam the rice for 35 minutes, stirring gently after 15 minutes, or until the rice is shiny, the white rice dark-colored and soft, the black rice grains soft inside but still a little resistant outside.
While the rice is steaming, prepare the coconut milk dressing. Canned coconut milk usually separates into thick coconut cream and more watery coconut milk. Mix the two together then transfer to a saucepan and place over low heat. Stir in the sugar and salt. Palm sugar may be solid at first but will quickly dissolve. Keep the sauce warm over very low heat, stirring occasionally, until the rice has finished steaming.
Transfer the cooked rice to a serving bowl and immediately pour 1 1/2 cups of warm coconut sauce over it, reserving the rest of the sauce. Stir gently to mix well, then let stand covered at room temperature for 30 minutes or as long as 3 hours, to allow the flavors to blend and the rice to soften further.
Serve in individual small bowls topped with a little of the reserved sauce or let your guests serve themselves at the table. If serving with sliced fruit, pass separately or arrange several slices over each serving. Guests can add cream, if they like.