Red Bhutanese, Green Bamboo, Forbidden Black: Just three of the nine premium rice varieties carried by South China Seas

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Bhutanese red rice from the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan has a robust, nutty flavour and aroma and a nice, firm texture. Because it is semi-milled, it cooks just about as quickly as white rice and does not require pre-soaking. It must be washed thoroughly though to remove surface starch before cooking. It is good simply cooked like any other rice, and also in pilafs (such as the Scottish-Indian classic, kedgeree), stuffings, rice salads, etc.

Bamboo rice is a glutinous white rice infused with the chlorophyll-rich juice of tender young bamboo. It is slightly stickier than Japanese rice, but not as sticky as Thai glutinous rice. With its lovely jade green colour (avoid pre-rinsing to retain the colour intensity) and delicate herbal flavour, bamboo rice is an interesting sushi rice alternative and a beautiful and unusual starch side dish. Try it in a risotto – particularly in a risotto with an Asian spin.

Chinese black rice, also known as forbidden rice, is a medium grain rice with a deep black color that is transformed by cooking into a beautiful, shiny, deep purple. Traditionally served as a dessert ingredient, it is also very good as a savoury dish – in a spectacularly different risotto or pilaf for example. Chinese black rice is high in nutritional value and rich in minerals, particularly iron. It has a smooth texture and a toasty, nutty flavour. It does not require pre-soaking.