It is no secret that I love tropical starches like plantains, yuca, taro, and malanga. These traditional staple foods are perfect to enjoy on a paleo or AIP diet in place of grains or potatoes (if you're nightshade-sensitive).
I love finding new and creative ways to enjoy these starches and this week I have stumbled upon what may be the greatest Paleo food discovery yet - the best ever rice replacement.
And no, I am definitely not talking about cauliflower rice. No way. I've never really been a fan but I LOVE cauliflower! Please just give it to me crispy roasted with plenty of fat, not masquerading as rice.
So what the heck did I made this perfect rice replacement out of?
Get ready for it.....
I know some of you are saying "what the heck is malanga?" It's the same thing I said about 3 years ago when I first discovered it. You can read a lot more details in this blog post, but in short it is a lovely tropical root used throughout Latin America.
You can find it at your local Latin grocery store next to the yuca, taro, and ñame (which are true yams). You can probably find it at a regular mainstream grocery store, too - at least I can throughout Florida (in our Publix chain). You may also be able to find them at an Asian grocery store, too.
Since malanga is a starchy root vegetable, it is just as satisfying to eat as rice. Y'know, because it actually soaks up the yummy juices from your meal instead of adding to the liquid on your plate like cauli-rice. I made a batch of my slow cooker Cuban picadillo with this rice and I was in heaven.
You are not going to believe how simple it is to make malanga rice, but you do need a few tools:
First, you need a sharp veggie peeler to quickly remove the skins from the malanga (this one shown above from Microplane is one of my all-time favorite kitchen tools). Cut the root into 4-5 big chunks. NOTE: some people may get itchy hands from handling the peelings, so have gloves handy in case you're sensitive.
Next, you'll need a food processor to grind up the root. Also known as "ricing", which is what you do to cauliflower, too. This is the one I use in my kitchen. You can also use a mini processor and work in batches.
Pulse for 8-10 seconds, scrape the sides down and remove any huge chunks (like in the center of this photo), then pulse for about 8-10 more seconds and you're done. If you had to remove any huge chunks, add them back in after you've emptied the processor and grind 'em up.
And, finally, you'll need a veggie steamer basket with very small holes. Mine is shown above and it worked fabulously - no malanga pieces got lost through the holes.
Carefully spread the riced malanga over as much of the surface of the steamer as you can, add about an inch of water to the bottom of your pot, let it boil, add steamer to pot and put the lid on, and let it go for about 10 min. I stirred mine around twice during cooking, but it may be fine to leave it alone for the full 10 min.
And voila! Perfect paleo rice ready in less time than it takes to make actual rice. Super easy, right?
Update! I have a cauli-rice recipe I enjoy now
In 2017 I published my first print cookbook, Latin American Paleo Cooking, and it's been a best-seller in multiple categories!
For my book I did have to develop some cauli-rice recipes since I know some people need to focus on a lower-carb version of Paleo.
And I actually came up with some recipes I truly enjoy eating. "Arroz" Con Pollo (Puerto Rican style, of course!) and Puerto Rican style "Arroz" Amarillo (yellow rice).
If you don't have my cookbook yet you can get a copy of Amazon or order a signed copy directly from me!
The best paleo/AIP rice replacement (not cauliflower)
Finally, a real rice replacement you can enjoy on a grain-free paleo or AIP diet. It's actually starchy, so it soaks up the flavorful juices from your meal instead of adding to the liquid on your plate like cauliflower rice.
Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Total time: 15-20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
- 2 malanga roots
- water for steaming
- Peel malanga roots and cut each into 4-5 large chunks.
- Place chunks in food processor or mini processor and pulse for 8-10 seconds. Scrape down the sides with a spatula and remove any large chunks. Pulse for 8-10 more seconds then empty processor. Add any large chunks that were removed and repeat process until the entire root is ground up.
- Find a pan with a lid that fits your veggie steamer basket (make sure it does not have large holes - here is mine) and add about an inch of water to it and set on the stove on high.
- Add "riced" malanga to your steamer basket, spreading it evenly over as much of the surface as you can. If it is a small basket, you may need to work in batches (you don't want the malanga too thick or the inside won't cook).
- When the water boils, add the steamer basket and place the lid on top. Reduce heat (keeping the pot steaming) and steam for about 10 minutes. About halfway through, carefully stir the malanga rice around to help with even cooking.
- Carefully remove from steamer basket, fluff with 2 forks, and enjoy!
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge and reheat in the oven.