Happy December! I hope there was plenty of joy and gratitude at your Thanksgiving gathering. As we slide into December and all that is brings to our plates and tables to share, I find my sweet tooth going into overdrive while at the same time craving simplicity and whole, nourishing foods. I cooked a little brown rice last weekend and my body let me know in no uncertain terms that this was something it needed. I am still pining for a little bite of something sweet during the day but I want to avoid burning out on too many empty calories so I can enjoy holiday treats and cookie making as something special.
One thing I like to do is continually bring seasonal fruit into the house. Putting fruit out during dinner is an even better practice and balances the meal with wholesome sweetness. Lately persimmons have been calling to me from their little corner of the produce section. Shocking orange, pretty little jewels. Thus the marriage of persimmon and sweet brown rice was made. In the spirit of full disclosure I have to admit I've been eating this for breakfast. Yup.
Varieties of persimmon are native to both parts of Asia and North America. Once, while hiking in Virginia near Great Falls, I was surprised by a tree with funny, small light-orange fruit. When I investigated, I found that it was clearly a persimmon. I learned that day that persimmons are among the native foods of the southern states. The persimmons we have available in stores in the U.S. are Asian varieties that have been cultivated and improved by the Japanese. I found Fuyu, a smaller squat variety, and Hachiya, a slightly heart shaped variety about the size of a peach. I decided on the Hachiya as I am more familiar with this variety and it's taste and texture when ripe. It may seem odd, but this variety is fully ripe when it feels nearly liquid inside it's skin. When it is cut, peeled and roughly chopped, the consistency is exactly that of a soft fruit jam as you can see in the picture above.
Different varieties of persimmons have different characteristics that you need to be aware of in order to know when they are ripe. Some are unpleasantly astringent when they are not ripe. Hachiya are like this, but Fuyu are ripe when still firm. Follow the link below for a little info on four common varieties or simply search a particular variety online that your grocer carries to make sure you are choosing the right one at the correct ripeness.
When looking for sweet brown rice, you will find that it is also called "glutinous brown rice". This in no way, shape, or form means that this type of rice has GLUTEN in it. Gluten is a protein only found in grains belonging to the wheat family. All of my GF friends can breathe easy and enjoy this wonderful grain. The term "glutinous rice" refers to the fact that this type of rice is sticky and is therefore also called sticky rice. Sticky rice is often found in Thai restaurants in it's white, milled form. So, technically the rice I am using here can also be referred to as "sticky brown rice". When shopping though, ask for "sweet brown rice" or "glutinous brown rice".
I much prefer brown sticky rice to white because of it's hearty, chewy texture and sweet nutty flavor. Enjoy this rice with thick curries, as a side to broth based soups, or as rice balls rolled in toasted sesame seeds.
With your sweet brown rice in hand, some good local honey, coconut milk, ripe persimmon, and a pinch of cardamom, this recipe comes together easily. The process is nothing more than cooking the rice, mixing in honey, coconut milk, and persimmon, and then cooking this down to the desired consistency. Notice in the recipe that I cook the rice at a less than 1:2 ratio. I prefer the pudding to be a little more on the firm side. When the honey, coconut milk and especially the amount of persimmon is added, the rice becomes quite loose before it is cooked down. If the brown rice is initially cooked over low flame with a tight fitting lid and allowed to steam about 10 minutes after removed from the heat it will be cooked perfectly for a chewy, soft, but not mushy pudding. If you prefer to add a little more water to the cooking of the brown rice, please do, but do not exceed the 1:2 ratio of rice to water as your pudding may be soupy.
The rice will be quite firm after refrigeration so be sure to warm the pudding before serving again. Enjoy!
Sweet Brown Rice and Persimmon Pudding
- 1 C sweet brown rice
- 1 3/4 C water
- 1/8 Tsp sea salt
- 2 Hachiya persimmons, ripe
- 1, 14 Oz can coconut milk, thoroughly mixed if separated
- 2 Tbsp honey
- Ground cardamom (optional)
Combine the rice, water, and salt in a small, heavy bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the rice to stand 10 minutes covered.
Peel the persimmons and reserve 6 small slices to use as garnish before roughly chopping the rest of the flesh. The chopped flesh should measure plus or minus 3/4 C. You may also choose to use the peel, chopped fine, in the pudding, or use thin strips of the peel as garnish. I simply ate the peels as I cooked!
Combine the chopped persimmon, 1/4 C of the coconut milk, and honey in the pot with the cooked rice. Mix thoroughly and cook the pudding down over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes or until it has thickened. If you like your pudding a little more loose, cook just until you reach your desired consistency. Remove the pudding from the heat and allow it to cool slightly before dishing it up. I find it is best warm, not hot.
Make sure the remaining coconut milk is at room temperature and drizzle each serving with the milk, or serve each portion over a pool coconut milk. Garnish with the reserved persimmon meat or thinly sliced peel (or both!). Finish with a pinch of ground cardamom per serving. Enjoy!
Yield: approximately 2 1/2 C. or six servings.