“Worms and dirt”: a plated dessert

I mostly made this dessert because I was craving black rice pudding, and just felt like making it. So I made a take on it, being more like a custard. But I wanted to also make a conceptualized dessert out of it, and celebrate rice in general. So I thought about what else I could do besides rice pudding, and remembered one of my favorite techniques: puffed rice. With those two textures and colors, I knew that it would look earthy, something I took it upon myself to embrace. We have a creamy and sweet component in the rice pudding, and a crunchy and slightly salty profile in the puffed rice. I figured to contrast that, I would make a spiced black rice gelee, using some of the beautiful purple water I blanched the black rice in, a tangerine curd for some acidity, and since we were already puffing things anyways, I went with some puffed rice noodles, which wound up looking less like roots and vines and more like worms. And that was okay with me. I just decided to run with that, and that’s how we got “Worms and dirt”.

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For the black rice pudding:
1/2 cup black rice
1 cup hot water
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
a pinch of salt

Simmer the black rice with hot water for 10 minutes. Drain the water, reserving it. Transfer your rice to a blender with the coconut milk, sugar, and salt. Start to puree that together until the rice is completely pureed into the liquid. Pass the liquid through a fine mesh sieve to remove any sandier grains of rice. Transfer that liquid into a pot and whisk on medium heat for 20 minutes. The end result should be almost pudding-like. Pour into the bottom of three bowls and refrigerate for an hour.

For the puffed black rice:
canola oil
1/4 cup black rice
salt

Bring 1 inch of canola oil to 330 degrees F, either in a pot or in a deep frier. Fry off the rice kernels in the hot oil for no longer than 20 seconds, just so that they almost double in size. Drain the rice on a paper towel to remove any excess oil, then sprinkle some salt over the rice. Reserve the oil for the puffed noodles.

For the spiced rice gelee:
1 cup reserved rice water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
a pinch of salt
3 tablespoons agar agar

Reduce together all of your ingredients in a pot on high heat until there is only 1/2 cup of liquid left. Pour into a shallow, small container, and allow the gelee mixture to chill down for at least 20 minutes. It should be firm to the touch. Cut into smaller cubes.

For the tangerine curd:
Juice and zest from 4 tangerines
2 tablespoons cornstarch
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Reduce the juice and zest from the tangerines with the cornstarch and salt while whisking it in a pot on high heat. Once the mixture begins to cling to the sides of your whisk, whisk in the coconut oil, then pass the curd through a strainer. Keep at room temperature and allow the curd mixture to cool down to room temperature as well before transferring into a piping bag or squeeze bottle.

For the puffed rice noodles:
Canola oil
Dry vermicelli noodles
a pinch of salt
chlorophyll powder
candela petals

Bring 2 inches of canola oil up to 330 degrees F. You can use the oil from the puffed rice for this recipe as well, just to conserve oil usage. Fry off the noodles until they go pale white and inflate in size. Drain on a paper towel and dust with salt and chlorophyll powder. Once the noodles are at room temperature, scatter on your candela petals.

To plate:
Start by puffing the puffed rice onto the rice custard. Garnish with dots of the curd and cubes of the rice gelee. Top with your noodles to finish.

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