The Challenge: Special Diets and the Superbowl

UPDATE: Visit the new GDC Round-up for other gout-friendly recipes

Assorted Poke Platter

In the last week, both T and my dad — visiting Oahu and now scheduled for out-patient surgery tomorrow — have had dietary restrictions imposed for health reasons. For T these include limiting ginger, dairy products, soy products (including miso and tofu), cruciferous vegetables (all our favorites: cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower), pine nuts, hot peppers, peanuts, and millet. For dad, no red meats (beef, pork, lamb, etc.), foods containing yeast (breads, alcohol), red kidney beans, shellfish, fatty fish (herring, sardines), grapefruit, fish sauce or anything containing anchovies, fried foods, and garlic; and limiting amounts of asparagus, mushrooms.

I began with what we CAN we use: chicken, firm and white-flesh fish (no skin), whole grain flat breads and quick breads, whole grain pastas and rice, onions, peas, green beans, potatoes, carrots, hard and summer squashes, almost all fruits, seaweeds, tree nuts, sweet peppers, artichokes, eggplant, tomatoes, corn, soft lettuces, celery, and spinach.

The beef and kidney beans restriction pretty much put the kabosh on dad making his famous chili for the Superbowl football game last Sunday. Instead, we opted to go the local route and make an Hawaiian poke (POH-kay) platter, served with fresh (carrot sticks, cucumber, daikon radish, and cherry tomatoes), steamed (sugar snap peas) and pickled (kimchee and seaweed salad) vegetables. Poke, a combination of raw fish or cooked octopus, sea salt and other seasonings, is available ready-made in just about every supermarket on Oahu, and makes a great quick meal with a salad and rice. Gotta have rice. Having grown up, and now living again, in a rice-focused culture, I’ve found it hard to completely switch to plain brown rice. The chewy texture is pleasant in small doses, and with certain types of foods, but for more traditional meals (as with sashimi or poke), the softness and stickiness of white rice is essential even if only in part. I’ve seen a brown-and-white rice blend in some supermarkets, but I’m leery of the additional processing the brown rice is put through which would allow it to cook with the same amount of water as the white variety requires.

Instead, I’ve devised a method that allows us to cook the rices together in a rice cooker, and produce a nutritional yet fluffy (very important criterion) brown-and-white rice. I call the blend “mestizo rice” (mestizo is a Filipino term meaning, “of mixed ancestry”). All you need is a good long soak.

150g (3/4 cup) regular brown rice
150g (1/2 cup) white medium grain rice

Rinse brown rice well, and drain. Cover rice with water to 1-inch (4cm) over the top of the rice. Allow to soak for at least 8 hours. (Do this in the morning before you go to work.)

When ready to cook, rinse white rice well, and drain. Repeat, until rinse water runs clear.

Drain brown rice. Combine white and brown rices together, and add to rice cooker. Add 1-1/4 cup (320ml) water. Turn on rice cooker and allow to cook/steam. After rice cooker turns itself off, allow rice to finish steaming and do not open lid for at least 15 minutes, but no longer than 30.

Open lid, and with a clean towel, wipe condensation from sides and lid of rice cooker. With a rice paddle or spatula, gently turn rice over, bringing the rice on the bottom to the top in a folding motion (as you would fold in egg whites to a cake batter). Rice is ready to serve.

Leftover mestizo rice makes a great fried rice, especially with pineapple and spices. Read more about makingFried Rice.