There was a point in my life when I felt like it was my job to be an apologist for Haitian.
"No, cowfoot is really delicious"
"Goat isn’t gross"
"There’s nothing weird about oxtails"
But I’ve reached a point where I’m glad Haitian cuisine remains the hidden gem of the Caribbean. It transforms every meal into a secret shared between myself and my family. It transforms memories of plates and platters into an inside joke I share with any other Haitian I meet.
In Haiti rice is the king of every table and diri djon djon - rice cooked in the ink like black broth released by the djon djon mushroom when it’s boiled - is the king of rice dishes. Most cultures treat rice as a side dish but I assure you, for Haitians rice is the always the star and anything else on the plate is extra.
Words cannot express how much I love black rice. If I had to choose a final meal it would be a plate of black rice with crab legs, pikliz, some fried plantains and my aunt’s macaroni salad; a true haitian gutbuster.
Let me warn before we get into this recipe: you cannot get djon djon mushrooms at your local market, or most ethnic markets either. Djon Djon mushrooms are native to Haiti and the only time anyone in my family eats *real* black rice is when someone takes a trip back to the homeland and brings some back. It’s a dish I haven’t even eaten in years because getting our hands on the mushrooms after the earthquake in 2006 was incredibly difficult.
But If you live in an area with a big Haitian population - Queens or Long Island, NY, Boston, Miami, FL, Montreal in Canada, Newark, New Jersey all come to mind - you can probably to track some down. If you’re lucky.
Sorry, let me turn off my Ina Garten voice and stop going on about artisanal, hard to obtain ingredients.
The closest you could get to replicating the look and taste of a broth made from djon djon mushrooms would be to use Chinese black mushrooms and a splash of balasmic vinegar. Maybe. It would take some fiddling that would be very difficult for someone unfamilar wit the dish to pull off.
For your purposes, that is, creating an earthy, hearty, rice dish, I’d recommend simply buying a package of button mushrooms, dicing the tops and using that and the stems to make a broth.
This recipe is amazing.