LOS ANGELES—We all deserve a bit of exoticism in our lives from time to time, and this salad fits the bill. Black rice has long been popular in Asian cuisine, specifically as a Thai dessert with coconut cream and sugar. In order to add a bit of spice and flair to the rice, here it is the base of a salad. Seasoned with rich coconut and sesame oils and flecked with colorful, crunchy vegetables and bright green herbs, this rice salad is hearty and flavorful enough to fill anyone's stomach. Although all of the ingredients can be found at an Asian market, you can easily swap Serrano peppers for the Thai chilies, soy sauce for the fish sauce and traditional basil and chives for the Thai basil and Chinese chives, respectively. The green papaya is a must have, though, as it provides that tart, tangy crunch characteristic of Thai papaya salads.
Thai Black Rice Salad
Thai Black Rice Salad ”“ Serves 4
2cups black rice, cooked
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 Thai chilies, minced*
1 tablespoon fish sauce**
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh Thai basil, roughly chopped
1/2 cup Chinese chives, roughly chopped
1 cup green papaya, shredded
Kosher salt, to taste
1. Melt the coconut and sesame oils over medium high in a wide sautÃ© pan. Once hot, add the bell peppers, carrots and red onion. Cook until they onions begin to turn translucent, approximately 3-5 minutes.
2. Add the ginger, garlic and chilies, reduce the heat to medium and cook another 5-7 minutes or until the carrots have softened but are not mushy.
3. Scrape all of the cooked vegetables into a large bowl. Stir in the black rice, cilantro, Thai basil and Thai chives. Finally, fold in the green papaya. Season to taste with more fish sauce or salt, if desired.
*Thai chilies can be very, very spicy. It’s a good idea to taste the tiniest tidbit first before you add them all. You may find that one chili is good enough for you. Or maybe you’re the kind of person who can take three or four. And that’s just fine!
**Fish sauce is an important component in this dish, but if you cannot find it, use soy sauce or tamari.