Here we go, the last of the 101 Salads of Bittman. Thank you to Mark B. for such a wonderful journey.
This salad takes some short grain rice and mixes it with a wild collection of ingredients, which somehow work together. Often when making Bittman’s salads, I have imagined him at his kitchen bench, going, “right, what is in the fridge today, what is in the pantry, what is left over from last night?”. And somehow and amazing salad comes into being.
For his rice salads, I use an Indian rice – idli rice, in fact. It is a hard rice and needs more water and longer cooking than other rices, but I love that this short grain rice retains its integrity when cooked. It doesn’t collapse or become mushy. I generally have this rice in my pantry – but no need to buy it specially – use the short grained rice that you have on hand.
This recipe uses Chinese fermented Black Beans (often called Salted Black Beans). They are Soy Beans fermented with salt. When the beans are treated with the heat of a wok their discordant flavours give way to a collection of harmonious layered flavours. They pair well with soy sauce and rice wine and add a Chinese punch to simple dishes like broccoli and rice.
Spicy Rice and Fermented Black Bean Salad with Zucchini
Cook a pot of short-grain rice. Rinse off some salted black beans (Chinese Salted Black Beans). Toss in a wok with a little Chinese Sesame Oil, adding some sake and a touch of rice vinegar after stir frying the beans. Turn off the heat and let them sit in the sauce for 5 mins.
While the rice is still hot, toss it with raw grated zucchini, the salted black beans mix, and sriracha (or other chilli paste). Pass the soy sauce at the table.
Eat warm or at room temperature.
recipe notes and alternatives
Use a Black Bean and Chilli Sauce in place of the salted black beans and sriracha. No need to wok-fry in this case, just stir through the rice with the other ingredients.
I sometimes like a little sweetness in this salad, so replace the sriracha with sweet chilli sauce.
Don’t have sake? You can substitute some Rice Vinegar, or Mirin, or Verjuice. They will give different tastes, but all work.
Also, play with substituting black vinegar or red vinegar (or a dash of both).