Even though I’m a global mongrel (English/Scottish/Chinese/Malay, born in Perth, with family in Auckland/Singapore/Melbourne/Sydney/Bri
sbane) and I’m thoroughly Australian bred, for some reason when I try to think of what food I identify with culturally, the answer (other than “Modern Australian” **) is for some reason Malaysian. Which happens to be the least proportion of my genetic mixed bag.
Nonetheless, that’s what I turn to. I suppose you could say “well your mum is Singaporean and that’s South-east Asian which is closer to Malaysia than China” which happens to be true, but also she cooked just as much Western food when I was growing up so I don’t think it gave me a strong bias. Maybe it’s just that Malaysian food is delicious.
At any rate I spontaneously decided to make some Bubur Pulut Hitam, or black glutinous rice pudding. I bought the black rice ages ago but never used it because I had some idea in my head that this dish was incredibly difficult to make… IT’S NOT! It’s actually really easy and I don’t know why it took me so long.
This is one of those dishes which have a million different recipes available online, and I was really hesitant in picking one because I didn’t know which one would turn out right. Soak the rice for 12 hours/overnight beforehand? Fry the rice first? Boil it for 3 hours? Soak for 2 hours, then rinse, then boil for 30 minutes? If you have similar concerns, never fear – it turns out that it doesn’t really matter. Seemingly it is very forgiving and turns out right anyway, it may just be a matter of tweaking it to suit your personal tastes.
I went for a sort of hybrid technique (without frying the dry grains first) of rinsing the rice once, then filling the pot with water and warming it a little (without bringing it to the boil), then I turned the heat off and let it soak for about 1.5 hours, then threw the water away, refilled it, brought it to the boil and then let it simmer for about an hour. Once the mixture was thick (I used about 5-6 cups of water to 1 cup of rice, and added a little more when it started to look too dry) I added in the gula melaka (solid palm sugar) and once that was all melted, stirred in some coconut cream. There was no real method to my madness, that just happened to be what worked given that I sort of left it and went away and then came back and monitored it, and also the coconut cream was too thick to drizzle attractively on the top of it. But it still worked.
This dish has a nutty chewiness thanks to the strong flavour of glutinous black rice, with some of the rice grains seeming to ‘pop’ in your mouth.
Using palm sugar instead of regular sugar gives a richer, more caramel-y flavor, and of course further sweetness is added from coconut cream. I don’t have any measure to how much palm sugar or coconut cream I used, I just added more until it tasted right (to me). It depends how sweet you like things. I also left it a little ‘runnier’ than usual as I knew I was going to keep it aside and I didn’t want it to dry out too much from being in the fridge and then reheated.
Although this is a dessert dish, I reheated it and ate it for breakfast as a pleasantly warming winter alternative to oats or cereal ^_^
**What exactly is “Modern Australian” anyway? Nobody seems to know, but it apparently involves lots of confit duck, pork belly, somethingorother jus/reduction, sage butter, pomegranate, sweet potatoes etc.