I have a love/hate relationship with Spring. I'm not a winter person, maybe it's because I grew up in a warm climate; and when I moved to the States from Hong Kong, I have never gotten use to the cold weather. So when Spring comes, I'm the happiest when I can shed some layers and enjoy the warmer weather. However, I have developed seasonal allergies, and I'm allergic to tree pollen so Spring is extremely challenging for me; hence the dislike of Spring.
Though like many, I still can't wait to be outdoors to enjoy the beautiful flowers blooming in the warm weather. I also love when the Spring vegetables start appearing at Farmers' Markets. One of my favorites is pea shoot sprouts. I love the sweet taste of the tender young tendrils and stems. You can saute lightly with some garlic or just eat it as a salad. I started thinking about what I should do with these beautiful sprouts, and thought I could make a hearty salad with some black rice. I could use the rice as the base of this salad. Black rice aka forbidden rice was only served to Emperors of China and no one else, so that's how it got its name. This black rice has high nutritional value and as much fiber as brown rice. It's a great alternative to brown rice, and you should definitely give this grain a try.
Whenever I eat rice I always love to add some ginger and scallion sauce. This is the sauce that you can always find at Chinese restaurants that make roast meat and assorted barbeque items hanging from the windows. This is the sauce they usually give you when you order the boiled or soy sauce chicken. I often ask for extra sauce as I love to mix it with white rice. I could just eat that by itself. So I decided to use this sauce to dress the rice then add some mushrooms and almonds for some texture and crunch.
Pea Shoot Sprout, King Mushroom, Forbidden Rice and Almond Salad with Ginger and Scallion Dressing - Serves 6-8
2 cups of forbidden black rice
4 stalks of scallions - white parts only, finely minced
2 heaping tbsp of grated ginger
3 tbsp of grape seed oil (high smoking point and neutral tasting oil)
2 large pieces of king mushroom - julienne (cut in thin strips)
1/4 cup of sliced almond (divided)
One package of pea shoot sprouts about 2.5 oz
One juice of a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the rice according to package instruction then let it cool. While the rice is cooking, mince the scallions, grate the ginger and set aside. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil until it's extremely hot then pour it onto the scallion and ginger mixture. Add salt and adjust seasoning to the sauce. Once the rice is cooked and cooled, mix the ginger and scallion sauce with the rice. Then saute the mushrooms with a little oil for a few minutes. Add half of the sliced almond, then salt and pepper to taste. Once the mushroom is cooked approximately 5 minutes then add the mixture to the rice. Lastly dress the pea shoots with the lemon juice salt and pepper then a little grape seed oil. Toss the salad and mix it with the rice mixture. Sprinkle the rest of the sliced almonds on top. The salad should be served in room temperature.