Sunday, 8 August 2010

Jocasta Innes's Rice Salad

A salad from the Pauper's Cookbook for a sunny day.

Jocasta writes: It is astonishing how much disagreement reigns over the best way of boiling rice... a certain mystery still clings to its preparation.

My mum was taught how to cook rice by a Chinese man, and this is his method.

One cup rice
Two cups water (or 2 1/2 for brown rice)

Bring to the boil and boil for a minute, stirring. Cover almost completely (leave a crack for the steam to escape). Turn the heat down as low as possible, and leave. White basmati rice takes 5 mins, brown rice takes longer. When the water's all been absorbed, and there are little dents in the top of the rice, it's done. I like brown round grain rice – it's good in salads.

Back to Jocasta: Cold rice can be mixed with a great variety of bits and pieces and turned int o successful salads. Any of the following suggestions can be used in varying combinations: tinned or fresh crab, shrimps, cooked mussels, chopped cooked chicken, ham, garlic sausage, hard-boiled egg, diced cucumber, tomatoes (peeled), raw onion, cooked peas, spring onions, raw mushrooms, cubes of green pepper, diced green beans, beetroot, raisins, sultanas, capers, chopped raw apple, grated carrot, cubes of mild cheese. Balace crisp/soft, sharp/sweet. And dice or chop the ingredients quite small. Rice with large lumps of stuff buried in it looks sloppy and faintly sinister.

Season well with salt and pepper or paprika, moisten liberally with a mild vinaigrette or thin mayonnaise and sprinkle on some chopped fresh herbs or parsley.

Raw mushrooms were a strange 70s fad, as was paprika – which seems to have disappeared from supermarket shelves. It's powdered red pepper. Jocasta's suggestions are quite avant garde. In the 60s rice salads consisted of white rice, tinned sweetcorn, frozen peas, diced carrots and peanuts with no dressing.

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