Sunday, February 5, 2006

Fish Salad with Forbidden Rice

I thought that come Sunday, I'll be relieved. Here is what last week was like: make shopping guides, test recipes, make handouts, run to Whole Foods, run to the Russian store, run to the fish market, run to the bakery, run to the kitchen, cook, rinse, and repeat. Scheduling 3 cooking classes in one week, while working full-time, seemed like a recipe for a nervous breakdown. But I am delighted to report that all classes went really well, and I am actually sad that they are over.

What classes did I teach last week? Who’s afraid of cooking fish? on Tuesday, From Russia with Love on Friday, and Passion for Provence on Saturday. You probably want to know what we cooked. I promise that that will be the very next post. But today is a day for clean up and organizing – starting with my kitchen and finishing with the blog.

As I was going through last week’s pictures, I realized that the Fish Salad with Forbidden Rice keeps patiently waiting to be written about. This salad came to life purely out of necessity. I was so busy last week that my own dinners were low key and mostly made out of leftovers from the previous weekend. The striped bass leftovers from a whole roasted fish were begging for a salad. The problem was I didn’t have any greens. But who says all salads have to have lettuce? After I added asparagus, red onion, and avocado, I had a good looking salad for one person. The problem was how to double it in size without going shopping. Don’t you just love little challenges like that?

Starch – that’s what this salad needed to be a well rounded meal. After digging through the pantry, I found just the thing – Forbidden Rice (also known as black or purple rice). What so forbidden about it? According to the legend on the Lotus Foods package, it was once eaten exclusively by the emperors due to its magical powers to promote longevity. Well, longevity or not, it’s a tasty rice. It resembles wild rice in texture, but has a deep, almost sweet flavor, and can be found in any Whole Foods.

I added the rice, a healthy portion of lime vinaigrette, and voila – I had dinner for two. To my great surprise, this everything-but-the-kitchen-sink salad turned out to be a keeper. Slight bite of asparagus and rice were perfect compliments to the delicate fish, and avocado that melted into the dressing created a buttery coating that bound all ingredients together into one harmonious whole.

Fish substitutions: any fin fish or shell fish leftovers. Hey, this can even work with chicken!

Serves 4

For the salad:
1 cup your favorite interesting rice (purple, wild, or brown)
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 Lb asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1 inch lengths
1 Lb leftover fish fillets, skin removed and flaked
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 avocados, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup chopped parsley, cilantro, mint, or basil

For the dressing:
2 Tbsp lemon or lime juice
2 anchovy fillets, mashed to a paste (optional)
3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cook rice according to package instructions. Cool completely.
  2. Set a large skillet over high heat. When preheated add oil and asparagus and cook stirring occasionally until tender, but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Take off heat and cool.
  3. In a large bowl combine rice, asparagus, fish, onions, avocados, and herbs. The salad can be prepared up to this stage a day in advance, covered, and stored in the fridge.
  4. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together and pour over salad. Season to taste with salt and pepper and mix well.

5 comments:

Sam said...

Hey... nice title for you blog... and my username is Salmon-ella...

Ivonne said...

Helen,

This sounds fantastic! I love fish and am always looking for new ways to prepare it. Often I find that we don't eat a lot of fish in our household probably because we just lack ideas for how to prepare it. But this is very creative ... and delicious!

By the way I finally had a moment to read about your private lessons ... wish I was in the vicinity to take one!

Kalyn said...

Hey, thanks for linking to me. I think your blog is first-rate and will add a link for you today. I just wish I could come to some of those cooking classes.

Nina said...

I made this tonight--it was very good! I mostly followed the spirit of using what was in my fridge-- so instead of asparagus, I used roasted zucchini. I didn't have leftover fish, but had tilapia that I wanted to use, so I just steamed it and let it cool. And I soaked the red onions in the lime juice for awhile to take the edge off a little bit (and turn them puce!). I let it all chill with mint, avocado, and dressing. I liked the bright flavors and varying soft textures.

And I wasn't in the mood for rice... but I thought, why not rutabaga on the side? So, I made your fries, too. I liked how sweet they are (and spicy thanks to the peppers and garlic) and soft on the inside while caramelized on the outside. I couldn't stop eating them.

Thanks for the great meal! :)

Paz said...

I like this recipe! Never heard of Forbidden rice before. Have to look for it!

Thanks for the recipe!

Paz