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.