I must admit when I bought that jar of preserved pequi last month at the Brazilian market in San Francisco, that I was afraid to open it based on what a couple brasileiros had told me. Erick, my friend in Brasilia who hails from the Cerrado (say-hah-doo) where pequi is grown, tells me that he not only doesn't like the taste but also can't stand the smell of it. When his family makes this rice, they make a separate one for him....(Between you and me, I think Erick is a little spoiled but I would never tell that to him.....rs) My friend, Rodrigo, who lives in San Francisco and runs a business called Adventures In Brazil, claims it to be the worst tasting thing one could ever eat. So you can understand why, with all the negative reviews--another friend, Felipe, from Amasonas (Amazon) and had never even heard of it so could not comment one way or another--I was hesitant to even open the jar lest I should be repulsed by the stench thinking about what Erick had said. But my miserly ways rose above the opinions of others. (The jar had cost nearly $15 and I was not about to toss it out.) I will admit the odor that emanated from it upon my opening it was different but not in a bad way.
One of those familiar-but-I-can't-place-it sort of odors. Astringent yet earthy. I used the amount suggested in the recipe, several tablespoons for each cup of rice, as I didn't want just a little hint but the full on flavor of what it was supposed to taste like. That was a few weeks ago and I will have nothing else with my beans and stews. It is an ingredient I love as much as hot sauce and dendê. (OK, not as much as dendê which is my ingredient discovery of the year!)
Here is the recipe for pequi rice, one I hope you will try.
1 cup rice
1 half onion, chopped
1/4 cup pequi, minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt,
2 cups hot water
Rinse rice in several changes of cold water to remove excess starch. Drain in a sieve for 1o minutes.
Heat oil in sauce pan and saute onions and pequi until soft. (Do not let brown)
Add rice and cook, stirring, until the rice achieves a white chalky hue.
Add water and salt and cook stirring until much of the water has boiled out but rice is still quite wet.
Remove from heat, cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Fluff with fork.