Red Red Rice

Last weekend I had an absolutely fabulous dinner at Ken Smith and Joanna Lee's place, which is always a wonderful treat! Before Ken whipped up some inspired caipirinhas, Joanna cooked us a three-course Hong Kong-style feast of ribs, bacon-wrapped oysters, and greens sautéed with Lee Kum Kee's XO Sauce, which was pretty fabulous stuff (unfortunately, the quality of what we get here isn't so great, so I'll have to wait for a trip to Hong Kong before I add some to my larder). Oh, and I mustn't forget the jello! It was part of the reason I ended up making Finger Jello Experiment 1...

The highlights of the dinner, though, were a couple of items they'd toted to NYC from the Chinese village where they do some work (and where they were married a few years back).

First, they introduced me to the village's organic red rice, which is probably the best rice I've ever had: subtly nutty, yet incredibly flavorful. Totally healthy, too, without tasting like bird seed like so many other of the crunchy granola–style rices we get in America.

We also enjoyed some young green tea, picked early in the season from the village's recently-planted trees. It began with a beautifully delicate flavor, and as we sat and sipped it became more complex and robust. It was such a rare treat, and I was so thankful they shared it with me!

As a parting gift, they gave me some of the red rice to cook at home, and told me it has to be used within a couple of weeks (full of wonderfully healthy stuff, it has a short shelf life once the sealed packages are opened and exposed to the air). I finally made it for dinner tonight (with a stir fry featuring some of the young garlic I picked up on Wednesday--more on that to come) and once again, it was fabulous! I think when I finally go to visit Ken and Joanna in Hong Kong, I'll have to bring an extra suitcase for red rice, tea, and XO!

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