Have you ever tried black rice? It’s available in most Asian shops but it’s something I rarely see on menus. I first had it in a delicious salad, in an amazing vegetarian restaurant in New York (it was years ago and I have tragically forgotten its name) and have been cooking it at home ever since. Black rice is unmilled and comes with its husk intact, and is purportedly extremely nutritious. Its other natural advantage is that it has a rich and complex taste, and can be used as the centrepiece of a dish rather than just as the carbs on the side.
500g of black rice costs about €2.80 in Asian shops.
Grilled Salmon, Stir-Fried Veg and Black Rice with a Lime and Wasabi Dressing
I made up this recipe myself, with my very own brain. I’m a fiend for grilled salmon these days and it has the perfect colour and texture to contrast with the rich, nutty black rice.
- 2 salmon fillets
- Tablespoon honey
- Tablespoon soy sauce
- Tablespoon sesame oil
- Veg for stir-frying – I kept it simple with tenderstem broccoli and tiny cubes of sweet potato, but you could do any veg that you enjoy
- Handful cashew nuts
- 1 mug of black rice
- Juice of 1 lime
- A squeeze of wasabi from a tube – an amount about the size of a pea should give a good flavour without blowing your head off.
The salmon: Combine the soy and honey in a small dish and brush or drizzle over the salmon fillets. Put under a hot grill for about 15-20 mins, until it has a charred crust and the salmon is cooked through. Check frequently as it won’t be as nice if it’s over-cooked.
The rice: At the same time, put the rice in a pan with lots of boiling water. Cover the pan (this is important as black rice is messy and will spatter everywhere) and simmer for about 20 mins, until the rice is tender.
The veg: When the rice and salmon have been on for ten minutes, add the veg to a hot wok with a tablespoon of sesame oil and throw in the cashew nuts. Stir fry on a medium high heat for 10 mins, until the veg are cooked (but still crispy/al dente).
The dressing: Put the lime juice and wasabi in a small bowl and whisk together.
Combining the lot: Drain the black rice. Put into a shallow bowl and mix the dressing in with a fork. Lay the veg at the side of the rice and the salmon on the top. I garnished mine with fresh coriander. It was very very very nice.
Nigella Lawson’s Vietnamese Black Rice Salad
This recipe is from Nigella’s book ‘Forever Summer‘, which is full of gems and a cookbook I go back to very frequently. This one is a particular favourite – the raw ginger, lime, chilli and garlic give it an amazing fresh kick. You can use ripe avocado instead of or alongside the prawn, and Nigella says that the dressing can be used as a dipping sauce to be served with chicken, or steamed broccoli or pak choi.
Ingredients (serves two)
for the dressing:
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 fresh red chillies, chopped
- Piece fresh ginger (about 4cm in size), minced
- 4 tbsp fish sauce
- Juice of 1 lime
- 4 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
for the salad:
- 250g black rice
- 500g tiger prawns
- To make the dressing, just combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix.
- Cook the rice by following the instructions on the packet – I find it usually takes about 20 mins. Cover the pan – as above, it’s messy and gets black splatters everywhere.
- Cook the prawns in boiling salted water for about 5 mins until they are just cooked through. You can check this by cutting a prawn in half: they should be opaque in their centre.
- Rinse the prawns and rice in cold water to cool them down. Put the rice in bowls, pour the dressing over and mix in with a fork. Scatter prawns on top.