Every self professed chef should have a signature dish, and this is mine. I created it a few years ago when I was looking for a light entree to serve in the middle of summer. I wanted something healthy, but still full of flavor. Sound familiar? I was inspired by some freshly caught local rockfish and a small bag of black rice. The rice, called Forbidden, was a new ingredient to me at the time and I was drawn to its inky color that I was sure would stand out on a plate. I later learned that it is a super food, chock full of antioxidants, and fortunately it also has incredible flavor and texture.
To create some complexity, while still keeping things light and cool, I add diced mangoes, scallions and bell pepper to the rice. A few dashes of toasted sesame seed also add subtle nuttyness to the salad. The real highlight, though, is a coconut passionfruit vinaigrette which is tossed into the rice, but also used as a sauce around the plate. Its back bone is coconut milk and fresh passionfruit, so there is a delicious balance of creamy tartness with the fragrance of tropical ingredients. The best part of this dish is the ease of making it. The layers of flavor and texture suggest more complicated cooking, but it is a matter of simply boiling rice and chopping a few ingredients. The salad works especially well as a bed for grilled fish, and would be equally good with roasted shrimp or scallops.
For the salad:
1.5 C black rice, cooked and cooled
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into a small dice
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 mango, cut into a small dice
1/4 C toasted sesame seeds
For the vinaigrette:
1/2 C coconut milk
the pulp and seeds of two passionfruit
1 shallot, finely minced
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp honey
salt and pepper to taste
Method: Combine all the ingredients for the salad together in a large bowl. For the vinaigrette, whisk all of the ingredients together to incorporate. Fold ¾ of the vinaigrette into the rice and use the rest as a sauce to drizzle around the plate or on top of a piece of fish.