Dirty Rice Is Your Friend
Nothing but nothing goes better with grilled fish than a squeeze of lemon and a generous portion of dirty rice.
Have you ever heard of dirty rice? It’s a traditional creole and cajun rice dish and it goes best with grilled meats and fish. Some call it dirty rice, others call it rice and peas. I call it and and eat it.
One of the greatest advantages of dirty rice is that it’s a delicious yet cheap and efficient way to feed a large number of people. It can be prepared in advance and reheated and it will keep well in the fridge or freezer. You can adjust the heat to your taste as well so the chilli content will be up to you.
My mum’s dad is from Guadeloupe one of the French islands and so I’ve a keen love for all things carribean. I look on the pale side of life but I am very much proud of my mixed race and rich heritage. It defines who I am, how I eat and what I cook. Guadeloupe has an intense love for food and celebrates their female cooks every year. The Female Cooks Festival is a long standing tradition which I would love to attend some day. The food markets are another reason why you should visit the carribeans. It’s the perfect way to shop for the ingredients for the famed dirty rice.
As an aside, being of mixed race background but looking white is a real eye opener in terms of how white people can dismiss black people or treat them poorly and they will simply assume that because I am too I am naturally on their side. Absolutely not. Never and under no circumstances should you ever judge someone based on the colour of their skin. Unless they’re green and then you’d better start running. As Jimmy Rabbitte once said: “I’m black and I’m proud.” Now, back to our dirty rice.
The ideal rice for this is long white grain but I’ve made it with brown rice also and found it delicious. You could use the dry kidney beans, soak them over night and cook them for hours until they’re nice and soft, but honestly, why bother?
- 1 cup of dry rice per person
- 1 can of kidney beans per two persons
- 1 scotch bonnet chilli
- 1 large onion for per two persons
- 1 cube of vegetable stock powder
A bit more about the chilli. This is an important bit and will make or break your dirty rice so do pay attention. Using chilli is an art form. If you get it right it will make your tongue tingle, your lips swell a bit and your whole mouth water and come to life. You can quite see why it is deemed an aphrodisiac. If you get it wrong, you will walk around with a trout pout you would not wish on your worst enemy and your meal will be wrong. And frankly, nobody ain’t got time for that.
- If you want your dish to be mildly hot just heat up a whole chilli towards the end of the cooking time. Do not open it and just simply remove the chilli before serving.
- If you’re a bit braver and like it hot, open your chili, deseed it. Fork about a quarter of the chilli (flesh down) and dab it all over your plate of dirty rice.
- If you’re not well and would like a hole in your stomach roughly the shape of Guadeloupe then you can add the seeds to your dirty rice and call me Shirley when you’re bent double crying like a baby.
Chilli Tip: For every day cooking I use Lidl’s Peperoncini Macinati, which is a medium size jar of chopped chilis preserved in oil. When I cook dirty rice for myself and the little man in the kitchen, I use at least a large table spoon of this mixture.
- Boil your rice until cooked through but still firm. Ten minutes in boiling stock water should do the trick.
- While your rice is cooking, fry your finely sliced onion until it’s reduced and translucent but not caramelised.
- In a non stick pot, mix your drained rice, your drained kidney beans, your onion and the chili (if you use it whole, it’s good to put it in at that stage, same if you’re using chillis of lesser heat than the scotch bonnets).
- Let this cook together on very low heat for about 10 to 15 min.
- Season to taste.
- Dirty rice is best served steaming hot.
For many reasons, this recipe means the world to me so if you ever try it, let me know what you think.