My life is peppered with food memories, I suspect most of our lives are. From crisp potatoes, boiled, peeled and then deep fried before being eaten with a sprinkle of salt, that I used to love when I was a child.
Marietta biscuits with butter, two biscuits pressed together so that the butter would squirt out of the holes like hair. Homemade fudge, buttery rich. I always tried to make it but could never work it out (I didn’t know about thermometers then). Stewed rhubarb and stewed apples, big bowls full, supplied by fruit from the orchard nearby.
Everything good or significant that I have eaten, I can remember. For my confirmation lunch, I remember the vegetable soup, and my shock as I watched my grandfather add white pepper to it. My first slice of pizza in Rome when I was 19, with potatoes and taleggio, I remember how bright it was outside the big window as I sat down and ate it. I remember how delicious it was, every last bite. I remember my first proper ice cream, and my childhood ice cream treat sliced and served with wafers.
I gather these memories all the time. They are scattered all over the world now and I fantasise about jetting back to Beijing for peking duck and egg yolk dim sum, to Hong Kong for delicate, gorgeous xiao long bao, to Bangkok for crisp divine chicken wings and to Seville for some jamon iberico.
Lots are restaurant based and one recent one that resurfaced was a black rice breakfast dish from Nopi (Yotam Ottolenghi’s restaurant). I craved it, and even more so as I worked on my Thai coconut sticky rice and mango dish. I couldn’t get it out of my head. So, off I went to Chinatown, and purchased a bag of black sticky rice for £2. I was set.
This is another terrific breakfast dish, like porridge but with more texture, reams of flavour, creamy and flaxseed provides a lovely texture contrast, as well as being absurdly good for you.
I can’t stop eating it. It felt only right to share.
Recipe: Black Sticky Rice with Banana, Coconut & Flaxseed
50g black sticky rice
1 banana, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
160ml tin coconut cream
1 tsp honey / to taste
Soak the rice overnight and rinse thoroughly under the cold tap the next day. If you forget to soak it, still rinse it and go ahead.
Cover the rice with the water and cook gently over a medium heat in a lidded pot for 15 minutes, adding more water if you need to.
When the rice has absorbed the water and is cooked but still has bite, add two tbsp coconut cream and honey (to taste). Put the lid on the rice and leave to the side.
Reduce the remaining coconut cream over a medium heat until half the volume.
Serve the rice warm (and don’t let it sit too long or it will get soggy) with the banana, flaxseed and reduced coconut cream on top.