Wild Rice is actually the seed of a grass plant. The plant grows in shallow lakes and slow moving streams. Wild rice is native to America and China and is a staple of Ojibwa Native Americans. Wild rice is endangered in many areas due to loss of habitat and it varies a lot in quality. The term wild does not accurately describe the growing environment and much of the rice we buy is cultivated and mechanically harvested. True wild rice is river grown and hand harvested.
The perennial plants produce delicious and fragrant seeds each year. The seeds are very fragile and are susceptible to shattering which drives the price of the seeds up, that is why true wild rice is expensive, full flavored and elegant, but worth out. Seek out a sustainable true wild rice that is hand harvested and you will be rewarded with a delicious and nutritious side dish. It is high in protein and dietary fiber so that is an added bonus.
Here are a few of my favorite wild rice recipes:
Soul satisfying and heartwarming are the words to describe this soup. Wild Rice tastes a bit like tea. The grassy-herby flavor paired with earthy mushrooms and vegetables make the soup a satisfying winter dish.
Popped Wild Rice is a fun garnish for soup and salads. (Most grains will pop when heated in hot oil.) Wild rice has a nutty flavor that pairs well with mushrooms, root vegetables and assertive salad greens such as arugula, spinach and water cress.
Miso and Shiitake Wild Rice Cakes work wonderfully with my soy braised chicken thighs. The mixture of flavors offer tons of umami.
Have you cooked with wild rice? Let me know in the comments and let me know if you try some of these recipes: