Rural – Jersey Country Life Magazine

TIME FOR RICE PADDIES IN JERSEY?!

Jersey has yet to take advantage of this winter’s heavy rainfall to create any rice paddies but Greece, which is better known as a tourist destination, has discovered growing rice improves saline soil and has expanded freshwater habitats.

European rice flourishes in extremely wet conditions and mild temperatures and the rice paddies function as artificial seasonal wetlands, complementing the natural ecosystem. During May, rice paddies are flooded with water ready for rice seeds. These are filled with spineless organisms and amphibians and attract many birds, such as little egrets, black-crowned night herons, ibises, seagulls and other birds looking for food.

Producers use agricultural practices which respect the environment and precision agriculture aims to improve the rice quality and yield while simultaneously reducing soil and underground water pollution, as well as mitigating wider environmental impacts.

Greece produces two varieties of European rice – the traditional Japonica and Indica which is great in rice pudding (see below).

Baked Rice Pudding

Ingredients:

20g unsalted butter, melted

3 tablespoons European rice (medium grain)

3 eggs

3 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar

435ml cup of milk

125ml cup of cream

1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract

A quarter of a teaspoon of ground nutmeg

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius and brush a 1.5 litre ovenproof dish with the melted butter.

Cook the rice in a saucepan of boiling water for 12 minutes, or until tender, then drain well.

Place the eggs in a bowl and beat lightly. Add the sugar, milk, cream and vanilla extract, and whisk until well combined. Stir in the cooked rice, pour into the prepared dish and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Place the dish in a deep roasting tin and pour enough hot water into the tin to come halfway up the side of the pudding dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the custard is lightly set and a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Remove the pudding dish form the roasting tin and leave for five minutes before serving.

Strawberry Rice (by chef Homam Ayaso (aka @Homamino)

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

2 shallot onions

3 cloves garlic

1 litre of vegetable broth

100ml of white wine

350g of premium quality European rice

350g of strawberries

40g unsalted butter

50g grated Parmigiano cheese

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Nutmeg

Roasted hazelnut to garnish

Instructions:

First prepare the vegetable stock, if you don’t already have it. The vegetable stock should not be too aromatic. Carrot, celery and a small onion in 1.5 litres of lightly salted water is enough. Boil for at least 40 minutes. You are going to use the broth to cook the risotto, slowly, letting the recipe absorb it little-by-little. Meanwhile, wash the strawberries then dry them well. Remove the green tuft and cut them into small pieces. Keep a few whole strawberries for the final decoration.

Chop the onion and garlic then sauté over a medium heat in a pan with three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add the rice and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the grains are slightly glassy.

Then add the white wine, stir and let it evaporate, over a high heat. Then add the hot vegetable stock with a ladle. At first, there will be a sizzle as part of the stock, in contact with the hot pan, evaporates. Immediately add another ladle of stock. During cooking, the rice must always be covered with stock; in this way it releases the starches and the grain does not break.

Halfway through cooking, after about eight minutes, add half of the chopped strawberries, stirring constantly. The strawberries will become creamy and give the rice its characteristic colour.

When the rice is cooked, after another 8-10 minutes, turn off the heat. Add grated Parmigiano cheese and butter, Stir to combine and finish by decorating with the remaining strawberries and roasted hazelnut.

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