A Meal Fit for Royalty

I was recently invited to participate in a Master Chef competition that was organized by an international peer group that I belong to. Of course, my competitive spirit kicked into high gear and I accepted the challenge.
To prepare for the challenge we were given a scorecard and the point system, but the only real parameter was that the dish must contain rice. As you can imagine, the contestants could really take this anywhere—with rice, the world truly is your oyster. So to speak.
I was determined to make something special; something fit for a queen and yet would be enjoyed by children as well. The search began; I pored through my beloved cookbooks, which took me on journeys through Mexico, Brazil, Spain, France, Japan, and China. I finally landed on a recipe that I have made a few times and as I reacquainted myself with the ingredients, my taste buds began to water as the memories of this dish came flooding back to me.
I discovered the recipe in Food: What the Heck Should I Cook by Mark Hyman. His original recipe is entitled Forbidden Rice—No-fry Stir Fry, but for this challenge I really wanted to make it my own. I made some adaptations to suit my palette for the competition, after all, a racer must stick to their own race plan.
I absolutely love race planning, so I decided that I would treat this competition exactly like the Master Chef competitions that you would see on television. This meant grabbing my basket and heading out to source the best ingredients, sticking to local and organic where possible.
I knew that the key to making this recipe was to misé en place the heck out of it. Imagine everything chopped, diced, sliced, and measured out ahead of time. When you prepare this way, the recipe will come together like a dream; it will seem effortless to those watching, just like a perfect race. This meant having lots of bowls—five in fact—at the ready, since the different vegetables and ingredients all require different cook times.
The clock is also a major factor in racing and in cooking, so I thoughtfully developed a race plan (or rice plan, if you will) to keep everything on track and under one hour. If you follow these steps, this recipe will go from page to table within 55 minutes. Ready. Set. Go.


½ cup forbidden rice
1 large head broccoli
1 large carrot
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 head of bok choy
1 cup green cabbage
½ cup shelled thawed edamame
3 garlic cloves
1 ½ tablespoons fresh ginger
¼ cup gluten-free tamari
½ teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons slivered almonds
4 ounces bean sprouts
1 lime
½ cup pea shoots
3 tablespoons green onions
1 avocado, pitted


Bowl 1 (medium size )
• 1 large head broccoli, stems peeled, and thinly sliced. Florets cut in bite-sized pieces
• 1 large carrot, cut into rounds

Bowl 2 (large size)
• 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
• 1 yellow pepper, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
• 1 head of bok choy, thinly sliced
• 1 cup green cabbage thinly sliced

Bowl 3 (small size)
• ½ cup shelled, thawed edamame
• 3 garlic cloves, micro-grated
• 1 ½ tablespoons fresh ginger, micro-grated
Bowl 4 (small size)
• ¼ cup gluten-free tamari
• ½ teaspoon sesame oil

Bowl 5 (small size)
• 3 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted (set 1 tablespoon aside to be used for garnish)
• 4 ounces bean sprouts


  1. Measure ½ cup of forbidden rice into a pot. Cover with water and set aside to soak.
    Take note of the gorgeous colour and superior nutritional value of this rice. Its purplish black colour is a result of a high concentration of anthocyanin, a brilliant antioxidant. Forbidden rice earned its name because it was once reserved for the Chinese emperor to ensure his health and longevity, and forbidden to anyone else. Perfect to gain the upper hand in a competition!
  2. Prepare your misé en place for the stir-fry
    (approximately 20 mins).
  3. Rinse and cook the rice in 1 ½ cups water
    (approximate cook time 20 mins).

Combine rice and water in a small pot and bring to boil
over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and cover, simmering for 20-25 mins, until rice is tender. Spread on a large
plate to cool.

  1. While rice is cooking prepare your misé en place
    for the garnish
    • Juice of 1 lime
    • ½ cup loosely packed pea shoots
    • 3 tablespoons green onions
    • 1 avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced
    • 1 tablespoon slivered almonds toasted
  2. Show time. This is where it all comes together.
    Note: use tongs to stir often throughout this process. (approximate combined cook time, 15 mins).
    Note the rainbow of colour in the bowls; phytonutrients are plentiful in this dish, your body will love you for it.
    • Heat avocado oil in a large sauté pan (or wok)
    over medium heat until shimmering.
    • Add contents of bowl 1 and stir-fry for 5 mins.
    • Add contents of bowl 2 and stir fry for 2 mins.
    • Add contents of bowl 3 and stir fry for 2 mins.
    • Add contents of bowl 4 and stir fry for 3 mins.
    • Add rice to vegetables and reduce the heat for 3 mins.
    • Add contents of bowl 5, toss, and remove from heat
  3. Plate and Garnish.
    Remember food is art, and we eat with our eyes first. Divide the stir fry among four bowls and top each with garnishes to complete your work of art.

I had an absolute blast competing again, and my guests gave this dish a 12/10 review. The adjectives that my peers used to describe the dish were beautiful, delicious, crunchy, flavourful, and wow! I couldn’t have asked for any more than that.