Over the past few years, I’ve tried to add more whole grains to my kids’ meals, including whole grain pasta, bread, hot breakfast cereal, muffins, cookies, whole grain pilafs and fried rice. For the most part, my kids are really good about eating whole grains, although they sometimes make comments about eating whole grain pasta. I think it’s the brown color and the texture that they don’t like, so I find Barilla’s Whole Grain Pasta and Plus Pasta are a nice happy compromise. I really can’t complain because my kids eat pretty much anything I put in front of them.
I experiment a lot and rarely does a week go by where I make the same thing for dinner. This blog has given me the perfect excuse to expand my cooking repertoire and introduce my family to dishes they have never eaten before. My kids have come to expect the unexpected at dinnertime. Of course they have their favorite standbys and I oblige their requests, but meals on many days are new and different.
The latest whole grain that I introduced my family to was wild rice, which is gluten-free. Wild rice is actually not rice at all, but the seed of a type of marsh grass. I happened to be cleaning out my pantry and found a small container of wild rice I bought a while back, so when I saw a recipe for Stir-Fried Wild Rice with Mushrooms in Barbara Tropp’s China Moon Cookbook, I thought it would be a nice dish to introduce this new whole grain to my kids. Although not an Asian recipe other than for the rice wine and the baby bok choy, I thought it might have just enough familiar ingredients to pass muster at dinnertime.
This recipe calls for cooked wild rice, so I decided to try cooking the wild rice in my rice cooker since I’ve been having success with other whole grains. I wasn’t quite sure what setting to use, so I selected the white rice setting, then let the wild rice continue to steam for another 30 minutes after it clicked over to warm. There was a little bit of liquid left at the bottom of the rice bowl, but it got absorbed by the wild rice when I spread it out to cool on a cookie sheet.
The verdict? Wild rice has a nuttier taste and firmer quality than some whole grains so I was curious to see what my kids thought. My youngest son liked it the most. One of the twins liked it, the other didn’t (he didn’t care for the texture). And my oldest son, who is home from college and has been eating nothing but unhealthy college fare for the past five months, ate the entire portion I gave him (which was a pleasant surprise).
This wild rice recipe is Barbara Tropp’s, #30 on the list of the Top 50 Women Game Changers in Food being recognized this week by a group of bloggers. Barbara Tropp was an American chef and cookbook author, who helped introduce Americans to Chinese cuisine. She fell in love with Chinese culture after taking an art class in high school, then studied Chinese in college, and went to Princeton for graduate school for a year before deciding to spend two years in Taiwan. In Taiwan, she improved her language skills and stayed with several hosts who were fine cooks, and sparked her interest in Chinese cuisine. When Tropp returned to the U.S., she dropped out of Princeton and moved to San Francisco where she continued to learn more about Chinese food.
Tropp wrote her first cookbook, The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking in 1982. Craig Claiborne said, “This is one of the most massive and authoritative books on the art of Chinese cookery that I have ever had in my kitchen.” In 1986, Tropp opened a very successful Chinese restaurant named China Moon Cafe in San Francisco, which spurred the publication of her China Moon Cookbook, an Asian fusion cookbook. Sadly, Tropp died of ovarian cancer at the age of 53 after a 7 year fight.
I’m hoping to get my hands on a copy of Tropp’s The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking so I can thumb through it. I love the older, more traditional Chinese cookbooks.
- 1 cup uncooked wild rice, rinsed, then drained
- 2 - 2½ cups unsalted vegetable or chicken broth
- ⅛ sup Szechwan peppercorns
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ⅔ cup thinly sliced leeks
- ½ cup thinly sliced celery
- ½ cup diced red bell pepper
- 1½ cups thinly sliced wild mushrooms (I used shitake mushrooms)
- ½ cup thinly sliced scallions, green and white parts
- 2½ cups baby bok choy
- 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- To cook wild rice in rice cooker, place wild rice and 2½ cups broth in rice cooker bowl. Cook using white rice setting. Let steam an additional 30 minutes on warm after rice is done. Spread cooked wild rice on a cookie sheet and let cool completely.
- To cook wild rice on the stove, place wild rice and 2 cups broth in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, cover tightly and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit undisturbed for 20 minutes. Stock should be absorbed. If the rice is overly firm and dry, sprinkle with additional stock and cook, covered, over low heat until liquid is absorbed and rice is pleasantly soft. Spread cooked rice on a cookie sheet and let cool competely.
- Combine Szechwan peppercorns and salt in a skillet and toast over medium-low heat until salt turns off-white and peppercorns are fragrant, about 5 minutes.
- Peppercorns will smoke, but be sure not to burn. Grind pepperorns and salt in a spice grinder.
- Store in a clean dry jar, sealed airtight.
- Heat oil in a wok or large skillet. Add leeks and toss for 2 minutes. Add celery and red bell pepper and toss for 1 minute. Add mushrooms and half of the scallions, and toss for 1½ minutes more. Add bok choy and toss until they are hot and mushrooms begin to render their juices, about 2 more minutes. Add rice wine and toss to blend.
- Add the cooked wild rice and toss gently to mix. Sprinkle with the Szechwan Pepper-Salt to taste and toss to combine.
- Before serving, garnish with reserved scallion rings.
I cooked the wild rice in a rice cooker. There was some liquid left after cooking, but it was absorbed into the rice when I cooled it on the cookie sheet.
If you’re interested in joining our group as we cook our way through this list of 50 influential women in food, just ask Mary from One Perfect Bite.
Please stop by and take a look at what the rest of the group made this week in celebration of Barbara Tropp:
Annie from Most Lovely Things
Linda from There and Back Again
Val from More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne from Eats Well with Others
Taryn from Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan from The Spice Garden
Heather from girlichef
Miranda from Mangoes and Chutney
Mary from One Perfect Bite
Sue from The View from The Great Island
Barbara from Movable Feasts
Nancy from Picadillo
Kathleen from Bake Away With Me
Veronica from My Catholic Kitchen
Mireya of My Healthy Eating Habits
Claudia – Journey of an Italian Cook