This delectable jasmine rice salad combines contrasts of chewy, crunchy and soft textures with flavours of sweet, salty, spicy and tart all at once. Principles of layering perfectly balanced flavours typical of Thai cuisine apply here, and as with most salads, the complex flavouring comes from the dressing.
Some of the preparation can be done ahead, such as cooking the rice, toasting the coconut, and making the dressing. The dressing and toasted coconut will keep for at least a week in the refrigerator. The salad should be assembled just before serving. In fact, this salad looks spectacular when everything is arranged on a serving platter so for presentation, why not toss the assembled ingredients at the table in front of your guests?
For the Dressing
Dulse flakes add protein to this salad in place of animal or fish protein typically found in traditional Thai dishes and they are high in fibre and a good source of minerals too. I purchase them at my local health food store. I can sometimes find kaffir lime leaves at my health food store too but they can also be purchased at ethnic grocers, particularly those carrying middle eastern ingredients.
Date sugar is wonderful in the dressing even though it doesn’t dissolve completely because the ingredients in the dressing are strained after simmering and before pouring on the salad. If you can’t find date sugar locally, (I believe it can be ordered online) you can substitute coconut sugar but coconut sugar is sweeter so you may want to reduce the amount of coconut sugar you use in the dressing.
- 2 large stalks lemongrass
- 2-inch knob of fresh ginger root
- ¼ cup dulse flakes, scant
- 1 ½ cups water
- ¾ cup date sugar
- ¼ cup coarsely chopped shallots
- 3 large or 4 small kaffir lime leaves*
- ½ tsp. Celtic or pink Himalayan salt
Peel the stiff outer stems of lemongrass from the stalk and discard. You want only the tender inner stems, which are soft, creamy white with a visible purple ring running through them.
Coarsely chop the lemongrass and then bruise it by placing the cut lemongrass pieces under the flat side of your knife blade and whacking the blade with the palm of your hand. (Bruising the lemon grass releases the oils and intensifies the flavour). Place in a small saucepan.
Peel and slice the gingerroot into ½-inch sized discs and bruise as above. Add to the pot with the lemongrass.
Coarsely chop the shallots and add to the pot along with the dulse flakes, date sugar, kaffir lime leaves, and water.
*If you don’t have kaffir lime leaves you can substitute the zest from 2 limes instead.
Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and stir. Bring everything to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer about 20 minutes or until the mixture is reduced to a syrupy liquid. Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain the syrup into a heat-proof bowl, pressing against the solids to release as much liquid as possible, then discard the solids.
You should have about 1/2-cup of dressing – if not, place the strained liquid back into the pot and reduce to 1/2-cup. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Salad
- 4 cups organic, gluten-free jasmine rice
- 1 cup green beans or sugar snap peas
- Leaves from 1 large head of Belgian endive
- 1 cup mildly bitter green, such as swiss chard, kale or collards
- 1 cup fresh bean sprouts
- 1 cup jicama or granny smith apple
- 1 stalk of lemongrass, hard outer layers removed, and minced
- 1 cup toasted coconut flakes
- 1 tbsp. zest of one lime, grated
- 1 tbsp. zest of one orange
- 2 tsp. of chilli powder, served on the side
- 2 limes, cut into wedges, served on the side
Bring 2 cups of jasmine rice to a boil in 3 cups of filtered water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. The water should be completely absorbed. Leave to stand for 10 minutes off the heat, then fluff with a fork and set aside. Rice should be at room temperature when assembling the salad.
Blanche the green beans or sugar snap peas in boiling water for 1 minute and then shock in ice-cold water to preserve the vibrant colour. Top and tail; then slice into ½-inch pieces on the diagonal
Slice the Belgian endive into thin julienne strips.
Peel the jicama or granny smith apples and cut into matchsticks. If using apples, toss them in a teaspoon of lemon juice after cutting to minimize discolouration. This step is not necessary if using jicama.
Place the coconut flakes on a parchment lined baking sheet and toast in a 350°F oven. This took only 3 ½ minutes in my oven so watch carefully to ensure that the coconut doesn’t burn. You want to achieve a deep golden colour though.
Zest one lime and one orange. Mince the lime zest but leave the orange zest in long strips for an attractive garnish.
Assembling the Salad
First, using wet hands, firmly pack a small bowl (about 1/2 to 2/3 cup measure) with cooked rice to shape the rice into a dome. It helps if the inside of the mold is also a little wet. Flip the mold over and unmold rice onto a serving platter. The rice will stick together and unmold easily, maintaining its shape. Repeat the holding process with the remaining rice – you should have 4 or 5 domes of rice arranged on the platter.
Arrange the beans or peas, endive, bitter greens, bean sprouts, and jicama or apple decoratively in between the rice domes. Sprinkle toasted coconut flakes around the edges of the platter and fill in any gaps between the other ingredients.
Place a couple of lime wedges at either end of the platter and some along the sides. Sprinkle the minced lemongrass, lime and orange zests over top of everything.
Pour the prepared dressing into a small serving bowl and place in one corner of the platter. In another small bowl, add 2 teaspoons of child powder and place on the platter.
Take the assembled platter to the table just as it is in the photo below, so that you can toss the salad in front of your guests.
Pour the dressing over the salad and sprinkle with a generous pinch of the chili powder, reserving some in the bowl for those who might like to add more. Toss the ingredients gently but throughly until the salad is well mixed.
Squeeze a wedge or two of lime juice over all and serve.