Friday, May 3, 2013

Asian Forbidden Rice Salad

Forbidden rice. Not only does this delicious rice have a cool name, the fact that it's black makes it even more awesome.  Forbidden rice is a strain of Chinese black rice that is considered to be both a food and medicine in China.  It received it's name (also known as imperial rice) due to the fact that it's was eaten only by royalty (thereby being "forbidden" to the common people) during the time of the Qing dyansty.

When you buy this heriloom rice in the store it looks black, but as you cook it, it turns a deep purple, which comes from the high anthocyanin content.  Anthocyanins are what give fruits, vegetables, and flowers their color. They are part of the flavanoid family and help protect against cancer, inflammation and help protect the nervous system from degeneration.  It is high in fiber, iron, vitamin E and has more anthocyanins that blueberries!

You can serve forbidden rice as you would any type of rice although I think it's best when served alongside some steamed or sauteed vegetables or as a base for a salad. The rice has a tendency to stain the other ingredients when it's hot so I make sure the rice is cool and will add any other components at the last minute to keep it looking vibrant and fresh.  Since this variety of rice originated in China, I decided to play around with some Asian inspired ingredients to make a healthy, protein packed salad with tofu, edamame, and lots of fresh herbs with a tangy ginger-sesame dressing.

Asian Forbidden Rice Salad
(serves 2-4)

1 c. uncooked forbidden rice
1 c. edamame
1/3 c. scallions, sliced
3/4 c. cilantro, stems removed
1 T. unhulled sesame seeds

8 oz. tofu, cut into 1" cubes
1/4 c. wheat free tamari
2 T. rice vinegar
2 t. mirin (Japanese rice wine)
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 t. fresh grated ginger
1 T. toasted sesame oil

2 T. peanut oil

Ginger-Sesame Dressing:
3 T. wheat free tamari
1 1/2 T. rice vinegar
1 1/2 T. toasted sesame oil
2 t. grated ginger
1/4 t. cayenne (more or less depending on how spicy you like it)

Bring two cups of water to a boil.  Add the rice, cover with lid, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until all of the water is absorbed, about 30 minutes.  When the rice is done, let sit covered for ten minutes, then transfer to a large bowl to cool.
Meanwhile, while the rice is cooking, prepare the tofu.  Place the tamari, rice vinegar, mirin, garlic, giner and sesame oil in a large bowl.  Add the tofu to the bowl and gently toss with a spoon to fully coat tofu.  Let marinade for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.  Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the tofu and let it cook for a couple minutes on each side until lightly browned.  Transfer to a plate to cool.
Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil.  Add your edamame and cook for a couple of minutes.  Drain and set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing.
When the rice is cool, add the dressing and gently fold in the edamame, scallions, cilantro and tofu and garnish with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

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