Wednesday, March 9, 2011

0 Recipe #249: Chinese-Style Black Rice Noodle Salad

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I just made up this recipe on the fly and had it for lunch. It turned out really well! It's a very colorful salad that has a lot of visual appeal. There are lots of brightly colored vegetables, which contrast quite nicely with the black rice noodles. It's really quick & easy to make. Probably takes about 15 minutes total to prepare, and then about 30 minutes to marinate in the refrigerator. You can make it the night before, and let it marinate overnight in the fridge for the next day's lunch or dinner. (In fact, it tastes even better after a day or two of marination.) It can be served either as a side salad or as a meal. If you're planning to eat it as a meal, just add a protein source like tofu or grilled/canned salmon, and you're good to go. Enjoy!

Chinese-Style Black Rice Noodle Salad

2 c. water, seasoned with a drop of sesame seed oil
1 serving thin (1/16" thick) black rice noodles* (use pasta measure)

Salad Ingredients:
2 c. cucumber, peeled and julienned into 2"-long pieces (about 1 large cucumber)
1 c. red bell peppers, julienned into 2"-long pieces
1 c. green bell peppers, julienned into 2"-long pieces
1/2 c. shredded carrots
1/2 c. shredded daikon radish
2/3 c. sugar snap pea pods, chopped into 1" pieces
1/4 c. scallions, sliced crosswise into 1/4"-long tubes (about 4 medium-sized scallions)
1/8 c. fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1/8 c. sesame seeds

Salad Dressing Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. ginger, peeled & finely minced (about 1" piece)
1 Tbsp. garlic, peeled & finely minced (about 2 large garlic cloves)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. tamari sauce (Japanese soy sauce)
1 Tbsp. white rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 tsp. ground Chinese star anise** (or use ground aniseed, if unavailable)
1/4 tsp. Chinese-style chili sauce (from a jar)
2 Tbsp. sesame seed oil
3 Tbsp. honey

Directions: Bring 2 c. water (seasoned with a drop of sesame oil) to a rolling boil in a medium-sized sauce pot, about 8 minutes. When water has come to a boil, drop in black rice noodles and cook until al dente, according to package instructions. (The kind I used took about 4-5 minutes to cook.)

While you're waiting for the water to boil & the rice noodles to cook, make the salad. Combine all of the salad ingredients together and set aside. Next make the dressing: In a mortar & pestle, pulverize garlic, ginger, & salt into a smooth paste, then add all remaining dressing ingredients into the mortar and stir thoroughly (with a small spatula) to combine. (The honey will probably be the most challenging to combine with the other ingredients. If you stir enough, it'll eventually meld with the other ingredients & then dissolve a bit, due to the acidic content of the lime juice & vinegar.) Set aside.

When noodles are ready, transfer them to a colander, drain, rinse with cold water, & then drain once more. Add to the bowl of salad, pour dressing on top, and toss well to combine. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to marinate salad and meld flavors. When ready, divide salad into equal portions, transfer to plates or bowls, and serve immediately.

Yield: 4-6 servings.

Chef's Notes: *Black rice noodles can be found in an Asian market or online. Look for 1/16"-thick black rice noodles. Please note, these are not the cellophane vermicelli rice noodles that some of you might be envisioning. If you live in the local, metropolitan DC area (DC-MD-NoVA), Grand Mart carries these noodles. The ones I bought were the Havista brand. They come encased in a small, rectangular plastic-wrapped package, and are sold in 13.4 oz. units. Each serving of rice noodles comes neatly bunched together in individualized parcels, tightly bound with red and white-checked paper strips. So, actually, if you buy this particular brand, there's no need to even get out a pasta measure. They do all of the measuring for you. :)

**Regarding Chinese star anise, please read this advisory before buying or consuming any type of star anise. Yes, it's a link to another recipe, but the preliminary exposition contains some essential tidbits that I strongly advise you read before consuming &/or cooking with any type of star anise. As I've mentioned above, you can always substitute aniseed for the Chinese star anise, if you prefer. Aniseed doesn't have quite the same flavor -- Chinese star anise has a lot stronger "licorice" flavor to it -- but it'll certainly suffice.

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