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Cooking Minnesota Wild Rice with Andrew Zimmern || Food/Groups


– There are really obsessed
people who take all these pictures (man laughs)
of their food and then playing with it to have it look.
– Got to get the perfect ‘gram, man. – Right, #ThrillistMadeMeDoIt. (upbeat music) Rice is nice. It’s the world’s most common food staple and while this glorified
grass eating is foundational to hundreds of cuisines
in all four hemispheres, the ingredient by itself is
rarely a celebrity on the plate, which is why we came
to a place where it is, The Star of the North: Minnesota. Now the Land of 10,000
Lakes is also the unofficial American capital of wild
rice, a naturally occurring aquatic grass that’s knocked, finished, and sold by Native Americans in canoes
whose ancestors have been doing more or less the
same thing for generations. Now traditionally families
from Bemidji to Albert Lee have come together over bowls
of home cooked wild rice soup and they definitely still do. But more recently it’s also
become a go-to hyper local ingredient for Minnesotan
chefs, brewers, and artisans that are adding dimension
to the state’s hotdish and Jucy Lucy food pedigree. And while legit Minnesota
wild rice is expensive, its role as an edible
throughline that connects Minnesota’s pristine past to
its modern culinary future just can’t be understated. Which if you think about
it, is pretty wild. – This has been a way of life
for our people for years, hundreds of years. – From Minneapolis, we
drove north, way north to meet up with members of
the White Earth Ojibwe tribe, who consider wild rice sacred. On the reservation, only
tribe members are allowed to harvest it and always by hand. – My name is Selim Wadena,
better known as Sonny Wadena. We’re on Lower Rice Lake
area of Rice Lake, Minnesota, located on the White Earth Indian Reservation. Our people come from the
east, migrated from there. So when our people decided to
come this way, it was because they were told. You’ll know when to stop
traveling west when you get to where the food grows on the water. Wild rice, we call it Mahnomen. It was a gift to our people
and that’s the way we see it. The knocker, so he’s pulling
the rice into the boat. He’s trying to respect the rice and. – You don’t want to break the stalks. – You don’t want to break
the stalks, you don’t want to knock the heads off. – So I’m pulling the rice
in and I’m just hitting it, just scraping it off a little
bit, getting it in the boat. His main responsibility is
keeping me busy in the rice and he’s looking for the rice while I’m here. – And I got to watch how he’s
knocking because if the rice ain’t over the boat, there’s
no point in hitting it so I got to make sure the
boat’s under the rice. – That’s one of his
responsibilities for being a poler. You got to have clean rice
when we sell it, no reeds in there. And we try to leave all
the rice worms we can. I guess it helps it somehow. – No, not at all. (men laugh) Adds flavor.
– Flavor! This is kind of tough, tough. A lot of guys wouldn’t do it. We’re losing more ricers
each year, but we’re trying to get the younger generation doing it. That’s a tough one. We have the gaming
systems, the smartphones, and here on White Earth reservation,
we have a big drug epidemic. – Yeah, there are lot of
things that are sort of working to draw the youngest
generation away from traditions like this. – If we incorporate it
in our younger generation so they can keep it going. We figure we’re not going to
be out here forever (laughs). – we’ve been lucky that we do
have bumper years, these last few years here. There was a time where we had an abundance of finished wild
rice sitting on our shelves and now that we can market
it and bring in revenue, we can’t keep in on the shelves, you know?
_ Yeah. – The experience of waking
up early in the morning in that part of Minnesota,
taking the canoe through the water, knocking the
wild rice into the boat is such a beautiful thing. – Our journey continued
to the Minneapolis kitchen of a Minnesota super fan
who knows a thing or two about local ingredients. You might recognize him. How are you?
– I’m great, how are you? – Thanks for having me. What do we got going on today? – Oh my gosh. Well, fried rice. – Andrew Zimmern is a culinary explorer for the Travel Channel. It’s literally his job to
travel the world eating its delicacies and for
the last three decades, he’s called the Twin Cities home. – I’m endlessly pimping
everything that’s Minnesota. I think we have so much
undiscovered stuff going on. The wild rice is one of the most important elements in First Peoples
culture here in Minnesota. This is something that grows
naturally, that has sustained peoples for thousands of years. You know, let’s see what
else that we can do with it. This is my sachet. I’ve got some ginger and
garlic and scallion in there and when we cook our wild
rice, I’m going to add that to the pot along with some rice wine and a little bit of soy so
that we get some of that flavor in the rice itself as well. We’ll throw in our hot chilies. Those are hot and dried Szechuan chilies. I like putting the ginger right into the bottom there. A little bit of pork for
this because we’re making a roast pork fried rice. My cooking wild rice
through a Chinese prism is just as valid as a White Earth band of Ojibwe
chef cooking this dish just as a Chinese chef cooking this dish. I think we need to shine
bright lights on this and illuminate it because it’s fantastic and wonderful and I think
the more people that are making this, the better.
– Yeah. Though cooking is hardly
the only thing you can do with wild rice. Minneapolis’s booming craft
beer scene has created a different demand for the
ingredient, a drinkable one. – I’m Derek Taylor with Lakes
& Legends brewing company. – Andrew Dimery, head brewer. – We felt we had an
opportunity to brew a lot of different beers
using local ingredients. We start with those ingredients
and built the beers around those and wild rice
was on the top of the list. The farm can coach Andrew on how
to treat that wild rice to make sure the flavors come out. – It’s more of a relationship
and that’s something – Absolutely.
– That I feel like you guys benefit not just
from a high quality product, but you feel like you’re
also getting the insights that you otherwise just wouldn’t have access to.
– Exactly. – Yeah.
– Oh, definitely. – You get to know the
farmers, you kind of feel the heartaches that they
feel if they have a bad yield or that season, but you share
in the good years as well with them, but you really get to know them on a personal level. – To see their face light
up when they have a beer, it’s almost a two become one (laughs). I just made the beer, but
they grew the ingredient. – There must be a sense of
responsibility that you feel working with the ingredient. – Oh yeah, yeah.
– To certain people in the state, it’s a sacred ingredient. – It’s almost like, you definitely respect ingredients more. The farmers went through
all the work in growing it and then me, I’m just
trying to preserve it for a little bit longer. – As it finishes, definitely nuttiness, definitely earthiness. And then like, a little bit of citrus. I would definitely
consider it a food beer. – That’s Joe, editor in
chief of Growler Magazine which chronicles food and
drink culture in Minnesota. He showed up to the
brewery with a very special Minnesota snack. So where is this from? – Galactic Pizza in Minneapolis. – How? What’s this got on it?
– It’s got Minnesota bison, Minnesota mozz, homemade
red sauce, morel mushrooms, and of course wild rice. – I’ve never had wild rice,
any kind of rice on a pizza, much less wild rice with
Minnesota, with Minnesota bison. – So that’s what it is, toasted wild rice. – Yeah, it’s amazing. I love it. It’s like a hearty slice of pizza. – When craft beer went
bananas here, everybody wanted IPAs, everyone wanted the
standards and everyone wanted to measure breweries by those. – The gatekeepers.
– Kind of standards, right? Since then, we’ve had a lot of people start to focus more on
individual styles, niches, and things like that in the community. – So as this, the brewing
industry and other broader culinary scene in
Minnesota expands, there’s going to be a demand for higher velocity access to ingredients and higher
volume of ingredients. Wild rice is diametrically
opposed to what that is. – Our growing season is relatively minute and we’re trying to do a
lot with that, and breweries, and chefs, and people in the
food and beverage industry all want to celebrate that
and to be able to continue to celebrate that, we need
more producers and more farmers and more wild ricers and
more people like that that are willing to go out
on a limb so that we can continue to keep these
traditions alive and celebrate these foods the way that they
deserve to be celebrated. – This is fried wild rice. Oh wow, the nuttiness
really comes through. The wild rice really stands
up in a way that a typical rice might not. It might be that nutty flavor with pork. When you start talking
about, what else can you do with wild rice? – Let’s preserve it, let’s
honor it, let’s expand the opportunities for
the people there so that they can make a living off it. It’s so unique and it’s
something that is so beautiful and such a part of our state heritage and it is magical. – The food that grows on water. If there really is any
magic to this versatile grass, it’s the ability to
keep bringing Minnesotans back to the table for
generations, longing for one more taste of the wild rice of the north. (digital music)

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