WHILE other people head to Melbourne to hit the shops and admire the fashion, for me it is all about the food.
Last time I headed down there, I picked up a packet of black rice - not to be confused with wild rice - and have been trying to work out what to do with it since.
Black rice, like brown rice, takes longer to cook than white rice and is generally used in Asian dessert dishes.
I was determined to do something savoury with it though and, as I wanted the rice itself to be the main feature of the dish, not just a side dish, I decided to go for a good old risotto.
Despite not being able to find out much about black rice on the internet, I did come across one handy tip to get me on my way - soak the grains for a few hours before using, just as you would lentils.
When testing out new dishes, I like to split up the ingredients and try things a few different ways - to see what comes up with the best result. So, with a number of bowls of black rice soaking away, I embarked on what can only be described as an epic food journey.
I made the bacon stock myself from bacon bones and hock. This can be done in advance and frozen.
Otherwise, a good quality store-bought chicken stock should do the job.
I used the basic risotto technique of adding a ladle of stock at a time for one version of the dish and for the other I just added all of the stock, and in the end the results were the same.
The result was a tasty dish with the stickiness of the rice and saltiness of bacon balanced with the freshness of the asparagus.
But the sheer time it took to cook left me wondering if it was in fact worth the pay-off. Let me know what you think.
Black Rice Risotto
1 cup of black rice, soaked in water for at least four hours and strained.
2 rashers middle cut bacon, diced
3 cups stock
1 brown onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
salt and pepper to season
1 bunch of asparagus
Heat oil in a pan and fry onion and bacon until onion is almost translucent.
Add garlic and fry for two minutes.
Set half aside. Melt the butter in the same pan.
Add rice and allow butter to coat.
Add the stock, turn down heat to medium and cover. Allow to cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally so rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
Uncover and continue to cool until rice is tender and stock is absorbed - about 15 or 20 minutes.
Sprinkle the bacon, onion and garlic which was set aside, over the top and place asparagus on top. Cover and let cook for about five minutes.