The centuries-old practice of fermentation has made a resurgence in modern food circles. Luckily for us professional chef, Holly Davis is providing us with an essential guide to the process in her new cookbook, Ferment: A Practical Guide to the Ancient Art of Making Cultured Foods. In it, she shares four decades of expertise on fermented and cultured foods along with recipes and instructions for pantry staples such as vinegars, kombucha, sourdough, and red kimchi paste. There are also recipes for dishes such as Walnut Patè, Red Cabbage, Arame and Ginger Kraut and Black Turtle Beans with Smoky Chipotle Creamed Corn that include fermented foods in their ingredients lists, so you can incorporate these gut-friendly staples into your everyday diet. And there’s so much more—recipes for natural sodas, dairy milk kefir (rice milk and water kefir too), shrubs and desserts—they are all covered in Ferment.
Tis’ the season for all things pumpkin and this recipe for Pumpkin Chestnut Almond Brown Rice Balls that we are sharing today is a perfect balance of textures and flavors. Liven up your lunches or your next dinner party with these delectable bites and serve them with the miso dip for a touch of additional flavor and a boost in digestive health. Don’t want to show up to your next party empty-handed? Make up an extra batch and present them as a hostess gift this season!
PUMPKIN, CHESTNUT AND ALMOND BROWN RICE BALLS
Makes approximately 12 balls ♦ Ready in 1½ hours
Rice balls are a favorite of mine, and this particular combination of textures and flavors is a match made in heaven. Perfect fare for autumn lunchboxes, these also make excellent canapés, to be dipped into the toasted sesame and miso dressing below.
1 cup short-grain brown rice
2 cups water
large pinch sea salt
1⁄2 cup pumpkin (winter squash) cut into 3 cm (1 1⁄4 in) dice
12 large freshly peeled chestnuts, cut into chunks (or use vacuum-packed peeled chestnuts)
1⁄2 cup dry-roasted almonds, roughly chopped
Wash the rice very well in cold water and drain. Take a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid then add the rice, water, sea salt, pumpkin and chestnut. Put on the lid, place over high heat and bring to a rolling boil (don’t be tempted to take the lid off during the cooking and standing time).
Reduce the heat to very low and cook for 45 minutes. After that time, turn off the heat and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
Use a wooden rice paddle or large spatula to gently combine the rice, pumpkin and chestnuts then tip into a large, shallow bowl or tray and allow the rice to cool until you can easily handle it.
Scatter the almonds on a plate. Using slightly damp hands, carefully divide the rice mixture into 12 and roll into balls. Roll each in the chopped almonds, coating well all over. Cool a little and eat as is, or serve at room temperature. Serve with the dressing below.
Toasted Sesame and Miso Dressing
Makes 16 fl oz ♦ Ready in 35 minutes
Traditionally a Japanese dressing served over steamed green beans, this has the ability to transform the simplest of dishes into something irresistible. It goes well with grain or fish dishes, salad sprouts and is especially good with bitter greens like radicchio.
1⁄2 cup sesame seeds
2 tablespoons mirin
1⁄4 cup shiro (white) or genmai (brown rice) miso paste
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1⁄3 cup dashi, plus extra, if needed
Heat a small frying pan and toast the sesame seeds to an even golden brown. Tip the seeds into a food processor and grind to an oily paste. Add the mirin and miso, and continue to grind. Slowly drizzle in the rice vinegar and the dashi, until the texture becomes a pourable consistency. Store in an airtight glass jar until ready to use. Check the consistency before using, adding a little extra dashi (or water) to thin it out if needed.
Recipe from Ferment: A Practical Guide to the Ancient Art of Making Cultured Foods by Holly Davis. ©Holly Davis, 2017. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Murdoch Books an imprint of Allen & Unwin.