Sunday, February 05, 2012

Haitian Black Mushroom Rice

Black mushroom rice cooked with local mushrooms in Haiti remains popular in the Haitian diaspora. Called Riz Djon Djon [REE-john-john], it's a sort of rice pilaf and has a caramel brown color from the mushrooms. Those mushrooms are rarely available fresh in the US, and the dried ones are virtually only available in large Haitian communities like in Miami and Brooklyn.

This is an approximation of that delightful rice dish as I had it in Haiti, approximated because I could not get a clear recipe there and the key ingredient is not available here. Sometimes the rice includes green pigeon peas.

Here’s my version of the dish, which makes a savory accompaniment to a braised chicken or meat dish with lots of tomato-rich sauce.

The recipe serves six.

Haitian Black Mushroom Rice -- Riz Djon Djon

1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice, such as Basmati
3 medium-large Portabello mushrooms
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup minced green bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 medium bay leaves, broken in half
2 cups unsalted chicken broth or water
1 teaspoon thick black Chinese soy sauce (available at Asian groceries)
Minced parsley for garnish

Rinse and drain rice. Set it aside.

Rinse mushrooms, and slice off the rough tip of the stems. Chop mushrooms coarsely (chef’s knife on a board, or a food processor can be used).

Fry mushrooms gently in oil in a heavy pot, stirring frequently, until they lose most of their juices and darken. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic. Fry them about two minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add drained rice, salt, black pepper and bay leaves. Stir and fry rice for two minutes.

Add broth or water and soy sauce. Stir once, being sure rice grains are all in the liquid. As soon as mixture boils, reduce heat to lowest setting, cover pot tightly. Simmer, without opening pot, for 20 minutes.

Turn off heat. Again, do not uncover the pot, but let rice sit for at least ten minutes.

(Alternatively, the rice can be transferred to a rice cooker after frying with the vegetables, and the liquids added to that and briefly stirred. Cook as usual for rice cooker. Let sit 10 minutes after light goes off.)

Uncover and fluff rice with a fork before serving. Serve in a shallow bowl, and dust the surface with minced parsley.

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