Rice Salad with Smoked Salmon and Cucumber

Call it sushi in salad form. The overall effect is pretty close to that of the Japanese specialty, even though the rice is arborio (short-grain, but not sushi rice), the salmon is smoked (not raw), and the spicy kick comes from horseradish (not wasabi).

Yield: 4
Recipe from Food & Wine

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups arborio or other short-grain rice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cucumbers, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon drained bottled horseradish
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
  • 1/2 pound thin-sliced smoked salmon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
  • 4 scallions, white bulbs only, minced

Preparation

  1. 1. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Stir in the rice and cook until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain the rice well and transfer it to a large glass or stainless-steel bowl. Add 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, the sugar, vinegar, and lemon zest and fold in with a rubber spatula. Set aside to cool.
  2. 2. Meanwhile, using a vegetable peeler, shave lengthwise slices from the cucumbers; discard the seeds. Put the cucumber slices in a strainer set over a medium bowl and toss them with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside for at least 10 minutes.
  3. 3. In a small frying pan, toast the sesame seeds over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until light brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the seeds from the pan.
  4. 4. Add the cooking oil, horseradish, sesame oil, and half the smoked salmon to the cooled rice and fold gently to combine. Divide the rice mixture among four plates or put it on a large platter. Top with the remaining smoked salmon. Squeeze the cucumber slices to remove any excess liquid and then put them on the salads. Sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds and the scallions.
  5. Wine Recommendation: Chenin blancs from Washington State or Oregon are usually off dry. Their touch of sweetness helps to offset the horseradish's bite, their high acidity contrasts with the oiliness of the salmon, and their full body gives them the weight to stand up to its strong flavor.
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