Monday, July 16, 2012

Thai Black Rice Salad

Dear Foodies,

My pantry is bursting at its seams and I've lost count of stuff I've collected over the last few weeks months years. I love bulk bins. They are good to buy ingredients in smaller quantities but I end up buying a little of everything :( I make these big plans of trying out a recipe but by the time I get home the plan is forgotten and sadly, so are the ingredients in pantry jungle. The odd quantities make it difficult to organize them into jars and, I guess I should just use them instead of wasting time looking for jars. Various shapes & colors of lentils, rice, grains, flours fill up the shelves. I'd like to say they are all in neatly labelled bags but the last time I checked it did not look good. I can tell you this, I've had to become pretty good at identifying 'anonymous' flours. 

Wild Rice blend              -          Hulled Black Rice
I made it my mission to try out new salads and slaw's this summer. The fact that I'm currently on a taco streak is a topic for another post though. There's this restaurant called Saffron close to the airport that I really like. Su-Mei Yu is the brains behind the operation and they serve a healthy twist on Thai cuisine. The food has won her and the restaurant many accolades and rightly so. The food is some of the most flavorful I've eaten. They don't shy away from pungent spices but every dish is perfectly balanced and is just bursting with flavors and textures and colors. Nothing I've tried has disappointed me at that place.

I always gravitate towards their healthy fried rice with tofu. It's predominantly flavored with ginger and is chock-full of vegetables. It wouldn't matter if it were not called healthy because it tasted exceptional anyway. I wanted to re-create it at home. I picked 3/4 cup wild rice blend and 1/4 cup black rice from my extensive pantry (!). I know, you would think it was the other way round looking at the color of the salad though. The black rice turned a deep purple when cooked and beware, it stains any other grain cooked with it. Using a rice blend added texture with some of the grains being fully cooked while the others are wonderfully toothsome. And ofcourse, the color is stunning.

Thai Black Rice (blend) Salad
Prep time: 15mins
Cook time: 30mins
Servings: 2-3
  • 3/4 cup - Wild rice blend
  • 1/4 cup - Hulled Black rice
  • 1/2 tsp - Ginger, grated 
  • 1 inch - Lemongrass stalk
  • 1 Tbsp - Tamari/ soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp - Toasted Sesame oil
  • 2 cups - Water
Stir-fried Veggies
  • 1/2 cup - Diced  Red bell pepper and white onions, Carrots & snap peas thinly sliced on a diagonal
  • 1/2 tsp - Ginger, grated (adjust to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp - Tamari/soy sauce (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp - Shaoxing rice wine (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp - Toasted Sesame oil
  • 1/2 tbsp - Olive oil
  • Salad toppers - Chopped cilantro, Green onions sliced on a diagonal, toasted sesame seeds, lime wedges
  1. Get the rice started first. Rinse grains in multiple changes of water, picking out any outliers. In a heavy bottomed pan, add drained rice with 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Once its at a boil season it with tamari, sesame oil, ginger and lemongrass. (Before adding lemongrass stalk, bruise it by giving it a few whacks with the blunt edge of a knife to release its essence.) Cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 15-20mins on the lowest heat setting. Once all the water is absorbed and the grains are cooked, remove it from heat and let cool completely. ( I spread the rice on a plate and stick it into the freezer for a few minutes to quickly cool it down). Pick and discard lemongrass stalk.
  2. As the rice is cooking, heat a wok or saute pan on medium high heat with toasted sesame oil and olive oil. When the oil begins to sizzle add diced onions and peppers. Add grated ginger and cook until the onions begin to turn translucent. 
  3. Add sliced carrots and continue to cook for 2 more minutes. Just before turning the heat off add tamari, shaoxing rice wine and sliced snow peas which will cook in the residual heat. The veggies should retain their crunch and bright color.
  4. When the rice is at room temperature add stir fried veggies and taste test for seasonings. Sprinkle a little bit of toppings on the salad making sure you have more of each on the side.
Note: -  Tofu would be a great protein addition to this salad. Drain and dry extra firm tofu on paper towels. Cut into thick slabs and marinate in a mixture of tamari, toasted sesame oil and grated ginger for 15-20 mins. Sear both sides on medium heat in a saute pan until browned. Dice into cubes and add to the salad at the very end so as not to break them up.
- Use any combination of veggies you have on hand that'll add crunch and color.- Swap rice with orzo pasta/quinoa/farro for a variation. 
All the different textures, colors and flavors came together really well in this dish. And I may have said it already but it looks stunning in a bowl. Don't skimp on the salad toppers which are like condiments in this case. I love cilantro and with a squeeze of lime it makes for a perfect combo. The salad can be served immediately but it also travels well. The longer it sits the better it gets so it's great for picnics or lunches. I made sure the veggies retained some crunch so you get different textures from veggies and the rice blend as you chew your way through it. If you don't like the strong flavor of ginger reduce the amount and use a bit a garlic when stir frying veggies instead. Do give it try and let me know if you liked it. Have you tried any new salads that you loved ?

6 thoughts:

Shama Nagarajan said...

delicious dear..inviting !!!

chinmayie said...

Have never really experimented much with rice. Looks incredible!

Priya V said...

Shama, thank you

Chinmayie, actually me neither until very recently. Brown rice was the only different variety I cooked with. But when I saw these at the store I could not resist.

cumincoriandercardamom said...

This looks stunning

venkat said...

Wonderful writing ... I have everything at home, and will try it this weekend and also check out my video how to make Thai Red Curry –

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nancy john said...

Salads can be really tasty. All that lettuce topped with your favorite dressing and sprinkled with other toppings is enough to make your mouth water.

Healthy recipe for Spicy fruit salad

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