How To Cook Black Rice Like a Chinese Restaurant

If you are the health-conscious type then, chances are you are always on the lookout for the next superfood? Well, did you know that black is the new brown? That’s right, black rice is gaining popularity as a healthy super-food so, in this post, I’m going to check out how to cook black rice like in a Chinese restaurant and along the way, I’ll unfold a few of its secrets.

A Dark Past

how to cook black rice
Chinese lion statue

In ancient times it was only the nobility and royalty that truly lived well and when it came to food, they were the only ones to really eat properly.

So, it should come as little surprise to discover that in ancient China, only the Emperor had the right to eat black rice.

In fact, it was considered such a privilege that ordinary people could get into big trouble for even being in possession of a handful of the stuff.

Its for this reason that black rice is also called the “Emperor’s rice” or “Forbidden rice” because only the Emperor and his family were allowed to eat it.

Is Black Rice Good For You?

Rice paddies
Rice paddies

Black rice is heirloom rice so you can only find it in the gourmet sections of larger supermarkets or, more likely, in authentic Asian stores.

Because it’s difficult to grow it is pretty scarce so you may have to shop around or, just do what do and head online to Amazon – heres a link to one of my favorite black rice brands.

Because of its sweet aromatic flavor, black rice is usually made into desserts but is also popular for use in salads, and, of course, as part of the main dish. However, black rice contains a high level of anthocyanin, which is a water-soluble vacuolar pigment that is thought to combat free radicals so its health benefits are thought to be more than just dietary.

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Because of its unusual color, it is also revered to as an extremely healthy food in China.

So, What Are The Health Benefits of Black Rice?

Black rice
Black rice

Well, apart from being rich in antioxidants, black rice also helps in preventing diseases linked with chronic inflammation. It also has a number of health benefits such as :

  • Slows down the absorption of sugar into the blood
  • Rich in Fiber
  • Reduces dangerous atherosclerotic plaque formation
  • Lesser risk of obesity
  • Natural Detoxifier

The main components of black rice is broken into:

  • 0.7-milligram of iron
  • 32 grams of carbohydrates
  • 4 grams of protein
  • 0.8-gram of sugar
  • 2.3 grams of fiber
  • Contains the highest amount of antioxidants among the rice varieties

Is Black Rice Used in Traditional Medicine?

Chinese medicine practitioner wrapping dry roots and mushrooms

It would seem that not only is black rice beneficial for our health but, it has also made a significant contribution to traditional Chinese medicine.

The ancient Chinese believed that black rice could treat various conditions related to liver problems, hypertension, diarrhea, pyrexia and dysentery. It was also thought to help other ailments such as urinary problems including kidney stones, common cold, and urinary tract infections or UTI and some ancient Chinese medical records indicate that black rice has made a contribution to improving peoples vision and blood circulation.

These beliefs are still held by many Chinese today.

Could Black Rice be an Aphrodisiac?

Ok, I’ll be up-front and say I’m not speaking from personal experience here 🙂

However, apart from the healing and nutritious characteristics of black rice, many people also believe that it acts as an aphrodisiac.

In fact, ancient Chinese emperors were thought to eat black rice with their consorts or concubines to, well, you get the picture. Whether it’s true or not, I’ll leave up to your own imagination but since black rice tastes so good there’s no harm in trying!

How to Store Black Rice

Because its quite expensive and difficult to get a hold of, I recommend that you only buy what you need. However, if you have bought a bulk lot then its essential that you store it properly to keep it fresh and tasty.

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Luckily, storing black rice is almost the same as any other kind of rice. Its best kept in a cool place like a larder or fridge and in a sealed container. Black Rice will last between 6 months and a year in an airtight container.

However, cooked black rice will only keep fresh for around 4-7 days in the refrigerator but I would only recommend keeping to for a maximum of 2 days as, like other rice, bacteria grows quickly and you do run a real risk of getting ill unless its very well reheated.

How to Cook Black Rice Like a Chinese Restaurant

friends eating at restaurant
friends eating at the restaurant

Cooking black rice is similar to cooking brown rice. It takes a longer time to cook black rice than white rice because it is unmilled and unpolished.

Remember that washing and soaking the rice before cooking reduces cooking time. For the correct rice-to-water ratio, the general rule I follow is  2 cups of water to a cup of black rice.

This will cook for about 30 minutes, but if you cook un-soaked black rice, this ration will last for about an hour as the rice absorbs the water more slowly. Here’s how I cook black rice on the stove:

  1. Wash and rinse black rice at least three times. Soak it for about 30 minutes to an hour.
  2. Drain the rice and place it in your pot. Measure 2 cups of water and pour over the rice.
  3. Place the pot on medium-high heat and let it boil. At this point, turn the heat to its lowest and cover the lid. Let it simmer until all the water is absorbed.
  4. Turn off the heat and keep the rice covered for another ten minutes.
  5. Serve!

How To Black Rice in a Rice Cooker

If you prefer using a rice cooker, the only thing you really need to consider is the water ratio. You don’t want your rice to be hard or mushy either.

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However, if you have a modern rice cooker such as the Zojirushi cookers, you can simply use the brown rice setting and add the correct water ratio as per the manufacturer’s instructions. broadly speaking, the process is the same as for the stovetop method:

  1. Rinse the black rice under cold running water. Drain and put it inside the rice cooker
  2. Measure rice to water ratio according to the rice cookers instructions or, by default, just use a 2:1 ratio of water :rice . Note: not all rice cooker measuring cups have the same size so better to follow the instructions.
  3. Plug in the rice cooker and turn on to cook. For conventional cookers, simply turn it on to Cook. For modern cookers, use the brown rice cooking setting.
  4. Wait until the rice cooker switches to automatic keep warm. Let it rest for about 10 minutes more.
  5. Fluff the rice with a spatula or fork.
  6. Serve

Heirloom Black Rice Chinese Recipe

Black rice is great as part of many traditional Chinese dishes but you can eat it with almost any kind of food. I will try and bring you some specialist black rice recipes in a later post but, for now, why not cCheck out this video on how Chef Sang Yoon made this awesome black rice.


I love exploring ancient recipes and uncovering new ways to cook so I always get excited when i have the chance to cook a black rice dish. For me, eating black rice actually reminds you that you are consuming something that used to be the preserve of kings and emperors – that’s pretty special. So, if you want to try eating black rice then, hopefully, you have found this article useful. Be Make sure to comment us below your recipes and cooking experience.

Hopefully, you enjoyed this post and, if you would like to find out more great ways to use your rice cooker, I have posts covering how to cook pasta, fish, or even lentils. Who knew that a rice cooker could be so versatile ?!

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