The Haitian Specialty Djon Djon Rice at Ambiance in Canarsie
Small, spindly, and hard to spot, mushrooms of the species Psathyrella hymenocephala are native to the northern part of Haiti, but also found on the island of Martinique. These 'shrooms form the basis of djon djon rice, a dish beloved of Haitians that can serve as a main dish or side.
The dish's striking coloration is the result of a dye in the mushrooms that leaches out as they are boiled. In most recipes, the mushrooms are discarded after the color and flavor are extracted; the rice is then cooked in the colored and flavored water. The version shown above is improved with small beans something like black-eyed peas. The rice is further flavored with shallots, garlic, and thyme that have been sautéed in butter.
Djon djon rice is considered something of a home-style specialty, and thus is rarely found in restaurants. It is available sporadically at Ambiance, a restaurant with a theater in back located in the burgeoning Haitian community of Canarsie, a few blocks from the terminus of the L subway line, where there are a half-dozen other Haitian bars and restaurants in the vicinity. Only East Flatbush has more.
9413 Avenue L
100 Days/100 Dishes is an almost-random alphabetical collection of delicious dishes from around the five boroughs. See the entire series so far.
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