Black rice seafood pilaf

This is black rice; not wild rice or toasted white rice. The rice is short-grain and just as dark as can be. The Emperor of China used to love it and it was believed  to be an aphrodisiac. Apparently, he’d forbid his subjects to eat it, it was meant only for him. In any case, it has lots of nutrients, much more so than regular rice.

This black rice is now  produced in Italy, and I bought it at a grocery store in Beirut. 

Cooking this rice is like any other rice; bring a liquid (at least double the volume of rice) to a simmer and drop the rice in it. It cooks in about 45 minutes and releases a nice nutty fragrance during the process. 

INGREDIENTS: 6 servings

  • 1 cup of black rice (can substitute any short-grain white rice, just reduce the cooking time)
  • 2 cups of sliced calamari or shrimps 
  • 1 large onion
  •  1/4  cup of tomato paste (the equivalent of 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 tbsp of hot red pepper paste (optional)
  • pinch of saffron diluted in 1 tbsp of hot water
  • 2 1/2 cups of fish stock or water
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp of coriander (optional)
  • olive oil, as needed
  1. Chop the onion and fry in some olive oil or butter. When the onion is translucent, add the sliced calamari or shrimp and briefly cook for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time. The cooking time for shrimp is very short, whereas the cooking time for calamari is long and slow. If using shrimp, remove from the pan and reserve. If cooking calamari, add the spices (including the saffron) and toss then add the rice and toss a few seconds. 
  2. Add 2 1/2 cups of fish stock or water and the tomato paste and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook the rice and calamari for 45 minutes until the rice has absorbed the liquid and the calamari is tender. Serve with some radishes and (or) grilled shrimps or more calamari. If using shrimp, toss the rice with the fried shrimps and serve.

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  1. Posted March 21, 2012 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    I just bought some black rice at the local Whole Foods. Interesting looking rice. Anxious to try it. This may be just the thing!! Seafood is always a winner here.

  2. Posted March 21, 2012 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    A marvelous rice¨This pilaf must be very enjoyable.



  3. Posted March 21, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    I think I need to have a bowl of this – it looks so fresh and light and complex at the same time.

  4. Posted March 21, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    I believe this is what I have bought under the name ‘riso venere’: venus rice. It has a very strong and nice smell and I agree it goes particularly well with sea food.

  5. Posted March 21, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    oooh this is beautiful rice and certainly much more elegant than its white counterpart. I love this seafood dish – the flavorings are beautiful and perfect! Wonderful!

  6. Joumana
    Posted March 21, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    @Caffettiera: Yes, this is the label on the box, venere.

    @Mark: Thanks for the additional info!

  7. Posted March 21, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    A neighbor just gave me some of this rice today and I’m thrilled to have found your post on the topic and this recipe. I’ll definitely be trying this.

  8. Posted March 21, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    I have not tried cooking this in a savory form before, usually sweet with coconut milk…this savory version sounds delicious!

  9. Posted March 22, 2012 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    Riso Venere is perfect with seafood,lovely recipe Joumana, have a good day…

  10. Posted March 22, 2012 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    It is very sexy rice, and great to go with shrimp, which is also very sexy. There is a sushi joint near my parents house in Huntington Beach which serves black rice sushi – stepping it up!

  11. Posted March 22, 2012 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    Yes indeed, makes beautiful Sushi.
    I’m a Sushi Chef, the “forbidden rice” is not only lovely with Nori but the pigment it has contains Anthocyanin, which makes it very rich in nutrients.

  12. Posted March 22, 2012 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    I’ve heard of black rice but have yet to see it in the stores I visit. You’ve enticed me with your description of the nutty aroma!

  13. Posted March 22, 2012 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    looks great I have cooked with it once

  14. Posted March 22, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Looks delicious!

    I am a fan of different rices – black or “forbidden” rice is a favorite as is Burmese (Himalayan) red rice which is also nutty and delicious.


  15. Posted March 22, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    I have cooked black squid ink pasta with seafood but have never tried black rice. This sounds so delicious and I will be looking for it!

  16. Posted March 27, 2012 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    I have tried wild rice and red Thai rice but never black, I must search for it!

    Life and travelling

  17. Posted March 27, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    I adore black rice….what a beautiful plate it makes here.

  18. Gaby
    Posted November 4, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    this “forbidden” rice is also very popular here in Malaysia, where we call it “pulut hitam”, literally meaning black glutinous rice; in Malaysia rice is generally categorised into two, namely “beras” (medium- and long-grain rice) and “pulut” (short-grain rice, of which most varieties are much stickier than “beras” when cooked, hence the adjective “glutinous”)…
    …in Malaysian cuisine black rice is most famous for being made into a sweet dessert with other local ingredients like “santan” (coconut milk/cream, sometimes substituted with fresh milk in recent times for health reasons), “gula melaka” (palm molasses), “daun pandan” (screwpine/pandanus leaves, tied into a knot and added for flavouring, but mostly discarded upon serving) and sometimes with a handful of sago pearls, strips of sweet ripe jackfruit, mango etc.; we call it “bubur pulut hitam”, which may seem unusual for some because nothing in its name indicates that it’s a dessert, especially since “bubur” is the Malay word for porridge…
    …by the way your recipe calling for black rice in a pilaf is oh so tempting, even more so because I happen to be a big, big fan of shrimp, calamari and prawns…thanks for sharing this!!!!

  19. Joumana
    Posted November 4, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    @Gaby: and thanks so much for all the interesting backgrond info on rice in Malaysia~

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