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Cook the Book: Thai Chicken Soup with Chinese Black Rice

Plain white rice was always that reliable staple in my house that you could pair with anything because of its relative blandness—it soaked up strong, spicy flavors well, and was always on standby to be consumed along with the main dish of the night, its inoffensive quality in terms of taste being a good thing. Despite having grown up eating chiefly white rice with just about everything, however, I'm not the type of person who has cravings for a bowl of hot, steaming rice. Married with other dishes—sure, it's great, but on the whole, I find it a bit boring.

And this is where Chinese black rice comes in, which I've been enamored with since I first tasted it at a Thai restaurant a few years ago. Most people recognize it as "forbidden black rice," and it's more of a deep, dark reddish-purple shade when cooked. (The reason why it's "forbidden" is that it was generally reserved for the emperors of China, and not for the common folk.) It's got a subtly sweet quality and a delicately chewy texture, making it popular for both main dishes and desserts. Instead of relying on your regular supply of chicken noodle soup, stave off those winter chills instead with this recipe for Thai chicken soup with Chinese black rice, which gives a little punch with the addition of Thai curry paste. Sass suggests adding in a handful of baby spinach or frozen peas, as well as a few tablespoons of chopped fresh mint. You can also substitute brown basmati, brown jasmine, or sticky Thai black rice instead.

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