One of the best side dishes I've had lately is the Chinese Forbidden Black Rice at the Washington Duke Inn. It was so good, I bought some forbidden rice and tried to duplicate the taste, but only wound up with mushy, boring rice. If you could get the recipe from the chef, I'm sure I'm not the only one who would enjoy it. -- J.F., Pittsboro
Legend has it that forbidden rice's romantic name dates to ancient China, where the distinctively colored grain (black when raw, it turns a deep purple when cooked) was forbidden to all but the emperor. Nowadays, it's available to anyone who cares to seek it out in an Asian market.
Jason Cunningham, executive chef at the Fairview Dining Room at the Washington Duke Inn (3001 Cameron Blvd., Durham; 490-0999; www.washingtondukeinn.com), shares his recipe for this exotic rice. Cunningham also divulges the secrets of Soy-Lacquered Salmon, which he sometimes pairs with forbidden rice -- a combination fit for a royal palate.
Specialty of the House gets recipes for local restaurant dishes. Send requests, including your city, to Specialty of the House, c/o The News & Observer or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Find past columns and recipes at www.newsobserver.com, keyword specialty.