Serves 4

½ cup forbidden rice (Chinese black rice)

1 cup water

2½ cups whole milk, divided

3 tablespoons sugar

1 large cinnamon stick

Salt

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup chopped crystallized ginger, to garnish (optional)

1. In a small saucepan over medium-high, combine the rice and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook, covered, for 30 minutes. Let stand for a few minutes, then pour through a mesh strainer to discard any excess water. Return the rice to the pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 cups of the milk, the sugar, the cinnamon stick and a hefty pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the remaining ½ cup milk. Whisk in a large spoonful of the hot rice mixture. Add the egg mixture to the rice and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of a spoon, four to five minutes. Do not let the rice pudding boil or the eggs will scramble.

3. Remove the saucepan from the heat, stir in the vanilla and transfer the rice pudding to a bowl. Cover the pudding and chill until cold, at least two hours. The pudding will thicken as it chills. To serve, discard the cinnamon stick and divide the rice pudding among four bowls. Top each portion with some of the ginger.

— Sara Moulton, The Associated Press