Thai Black Rice Salad with Tuna and Kale


Combine in a mixing bowl :

1 cup cooked thai black rice (recipe below)

a few pinches of salt

freshly ground black pepper (optional)

2 tsp furikake seasoning or 1 tbs sesame seeds (optional)

1 tbs flax seeds (optional)

2 oz thinly-sliced curly kale (or more if desired)

1 5 oz can of high quality tuna

5 oz celery, finely diced

4 spring onions, chopped (optional)

2 tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp vinegar (seasoned rice, sherry or cider work best)

juice of 1/2 lime

Toss the ingredients together, taste and adjust for oil, vinegar and lime juice, salt and other seasonings. Serve immediately or within a few hours. If kept on the dry side and not overdressed with oil, it will last a several days.

Thai black rice is often labelled “sweet rice” or “sticky rice,” and while it is technically glutinous, it is a whole grain rice, so is not “sticky” in the textural sense. It isn’t sweet either–it tastes like a combination of brown rice and North American wild rice, with the texture of the latter or al dente orzo pasta. The best way to cook it is by steaming. Soak the rice for 8 hours or overnight in cool water, or for 2 hours in 120° water, drain and steam for 35 minutes. The grains are pretty large so you can use a wire mesh sieve. I prefer to wrap the rice in bamboo leaf, it keeps the rice perfectly moist and imparts a subtle, pleasing flavor.

Furikake is a popular Japanese seasoning mix for rice, usually with seaweed, sesame seeds, salt and sugar. It often contains bonito flakes and there are variations with salmon, miso powder, wasabi, egg, shiso, and even kimchi flavor! It can be made at home as well, and done so with fresh seaweed if one has access to a dehydrator. For the purposes of this recipe, sesame seeds or a mix of freshly broken-up seaweed and sesame seeds can be used to substitute.

This makes for a light, refreshing salad for the late winter and early spring. A great lunch on its’ own or as part of a series of mixed salads or snacks. I have deliberately left this salad a bit underseasoned – but one could easily add one or more complementary fresh herbs or dried spices, such as celery seed, anise seed, cilantro, parsley, dill, paprika, chile pepper or fresh chiles, cumin, and so on… Besides tasting wonderful, this is an extremely healthy dish with three nutritional power houses in black rice, kale and tuna. On the subject of tuna–make sure to use a high quality tuna for this dish, preferably one packed in oil or without any liquid (such as the excellent tuna processed by Wild Planet). Black rice and Furikake will be at any self-respecting Asian market and many of the more upscale all-purpose supermarkets.

Warm Kale Salad


Combine and whisk together in a large bowl :

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

2 tsp prepared mustard, preferably of high quality

1/8-1/4 tsp tamari

1/4 tsp vinegar (sherry, rice wine or black vinegar are best)

Dash of Maggi or Golden Mountain Seasoning (optional)

pinch or so of salt

1/8 tsp sichuan peppercorns (or black peppercorns), freshly ground or crushed

Take :

10-12 oz kale leaves, de-stemmed but not chopped

Place in a large pot of boiling, salted water for 2-3 minutes, pushing the kale down and covering the pot with a lid.

Drain kale immediately. Then quickly wrap kale in a thick kitchen towel and squeeze as much liquid from the kale as desired. I usually don’t fuss over this too much, just making sure that the larger portion of the water absorbed by the kale has been squeezed out.

Place the kale on a chopping board and roughly or finely chop it depending on your tastes. Toss immediately with the dressing, turn out into a bowl and serve with fork or chopsticks. Garnish with sesame seeds or–even better, a Japanese seaweed-sesame seasoning combo like Nori Komi Furikake.


This is one of the simplest ways to serve kale, accompanied only by seasonings selected to bring out its’ naturally complex and hearty flavors. This feeds two people as a starter and one person as a hearty lunch, accompanied perhaps by a piece of fruit or hunk of bread.

Kale salad is as ubiquitous as bad driving in the Northeast, too often it is either matched with incongruous ingredients (radish? blueberry?) or just not properly cooked. I find kale best lightly boiled like this (or even steamed if you can muster the energy) ideal for a salad, served either warm or cool. Now, if I was to serve this particular salad cool I would add perhaps a bit more of the liquid ingredients, but warm these proportions are just perfect.

Key – The key to this recipe is to proceed as quickly as possible once draining the kale, as maximum heat in the greens will cause the flavors of the dressing to blend better and come out more.