Thursday, May 08, 2008

Summer Rice Salad

This colorful dish has quickly become one of my favorites. It's got everything, salty, sweet, tangy, crunchy...I've made it four times and counting. Its really easy- more assembly than cooking. We always seem to have leftover rice from last night's dinner and since Chinese people don't eat the sorts of salads we Americans are used to, this is easier to prepare with what is readily available. (No lettuce required!) Plus, its perfect for the hot, sticky Shenzhen weather now upon us. From Nina Simmond's China Express.

1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
1/2 lbs asparagus, tough ends trimmed (I've been substituting snow peas, so you don't have to do any cooking at all, except for the rice)
1 cup cherry tomatoes (I just throw 'em all in)
1 small red onion cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4 dice
1 1/2 tablespoons minced scallion greens or chives (optional)

Dressing (this is the real secret to this dish!)

6 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (in my experience this is about one lemon)
3 tablespoons minced cilantro (this makes it taste so fresh and summery!)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp sugar (I find this can be left out with no noticeable difference)
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Make sure to rinse your rice several times. It makes such a huge difference in the consistency; it will be light and fluffy if you rinse it until the water runs clear because you are removing the extra glucose. Prepare rice, let cool and fluff with a fork.

If you are using the asparagus, blanch it quickly in a pan of boiling water no more than three minutes to keep it from getting tough. Then toss everything together in a big roomy bowl and add the dressing, stirring to coat. Serve at room temperature or chilled. I hope you love this as much as I do!

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