Rhubarb is everywhere at the markets (and, indeed, supermarket) at the moment despite the cold weather. A bit of research suggests Aussie rhubarb is available pretty much year-round despite my impression of it as a summer crop: I’m guessing due to a combination of our temperate climate and greenhouse production? I couldn’t find a definitive answer but I’m grateful all the same: it is a plant with a unique flavour and colour that makes outstanding desserts.
I tend to think of it as a very English ingredient: e.g. warm apple and rhubarb pie with custard, a proper pudding! Yet as good as the traditional combination is I’ve been wanting different flavours recently, and found the addition of fragrant lemongrass to be a wonderful foil for tart poach rhubarb. Lace this combo into a rich rice pudding and you have a bowl of deliciousness that will warm any belly (and heart) on a cold winter night!
- For the rice pudding:
- 1 cup medium grain rice
- 200ml cream
- 800ml milk
- 3 tablespoons caster sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- For the poached rhubarb:
- 400g rhubarb stalks, trimmed and chopped into 5cm pieces
- 1½ cups water
- ¾ cup caster sugar
- 1 lemongrass root, chopped into 5cm pieces
- To serve:
- Small handful pistachios, chopped finely
- Begin with the rice pudding. Combine the cream, milk, 3 tablespoons of caster sugar and rice in a saucepan. Bring to a low simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is soft (about 30 minutes). Add a little more milk if the rice dries out before cooked.
- When the rice is cooked remove from the stove and stir in the egg yolks well, allowing them to cook with the residual heat of the rice.
- While the rice is cooking you can make the rhubarb. Bruise the lemongrass pieces well by bashing with a pestle (or other blunt instrument of your choice). Add the lemongrass, rhubarb, water and 1½ cups of caster sugar to a saucepan and bring to a very low simmer. Poach gently until the rhubarb is soft through (but not falling apart), about 8 mins.
- Remove the lemongrass and discard. Strain the rhubarb and set aside, reserving the poaching liquid in a small saucepan. Return the liquid to the stove and bring back up to a boil. Continue boiling until it has reduced by at least half, into a syrup (test the consistency by cooling a small amount).
- To serve: add some rice pudding and rhubarb to a bowl, pour over a little syrup and garnish with pistachios.