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July 24, 2007

Mixed grains (Recipe: Mixed grain and dried fruit salad)

Mixedgrain

When I moved from Boston's South End to a rural part of Rhode Island, I knew I would miss certain things.

Art museums within walking distance of my house.

Bookstores within walking distance of my house.

Great restaurants within walking distance of my house.

Chinese food that could be delivered to my house, on the days I didn't feel like walking anywhere.

What I miss most of all, though, are the ethnic groceries, especially the easy-to-walk-to Asian markets that carry everything from live lobster that you fish out of the tank, to funerary items and clay pots, to hundred-year eggs and baby bok choy.

While restocking The Perfect Pantry a couple of months ago, my friend Candy and I discovered this product in our favorite Asian market, and now that I've found it, I don't ever want to let it go: mixed grains, it's labeled in English (Is that a literal translation of the Korean words on the package, or does it have a more exotic name? Help!).

An exuberant marriage of barley, millet, sweet brown rice, brown rice, job’s tear, red bean, black bean, peeled mung bean, black sweet rice, corn, and green peas, this grain combo, sold under the Assi brand, comes in three- and five-pound bags. Jessica and I found the smaller size in a lovely little Korean market near her Providence office; Candy bought the large size, which was great for experimenting with new recipes. It looks as beautiful cooked as it does in the bag, and contains enough possible pairings to make a complete protein ten times over.

Have you seen this product in your local market? Have you used it? Do you have a recipe to share?

Mixed grain and dried fruit salad

For a party celebrating the publication of our son-in-law's book, Candy created this beautiful salad. In taste and appearance, it's a show-stopper! If you can't find this brand of mixed grains at your local Asian grocery, use any combination of dried beans, peas, rice and corn. Serves 12 or more as part of a buffet.

Ingredients

2 cups Assi brand mixed grains (or combination of your choice)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp peanut oil or hot chili oil

For the dressing:
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tsp honey
2 Tbsp lime juice (or lemon juice)
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or less to taste
1/2 tsp crushed black pepper, or less to taste
1/2 cup fresh chopped flat leaf parsley or cilantro

1 red onion, sliced thin
2 ribs celery, sliced thin
Cucumber, cut into chunks
1 large red bell pepper, cut into chunks
1-1/2 cups dried fruit: cherries, apricots, dates, or figs (or a combination)
3/4 cup fresh toasted almonds, chopped coarsely

1/4 cup fresh toasted almonds, chopped coarsely
1 cup fresh crumbled French feta cheese

Directions

In a large bowl, place the grains, and cover by 2 inches with cold water. Soak overnight or at least 8 hours.

In a large sauce pan or Dutch oven over medium heat, add salt, sesame oil, peanut oil or hot chili oil. Then add grains, and toss with the oil to coat. Cook until just slightly browned. Add 4 cups boiling water, cover with aluminum foil and a tight-fitting lid, and reduce heat to simmer. Cook the grains for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until tender (stir occasionally to keep grains from sticking, and add a few Tbsp of water if necessary). When the grains are fully cooked, remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Gently toss vegetables, dried fruit and almonds with cooled grains and the dressing.

Add 1-1/2 to 2 cups fresh seasonal fruit, such as mango, peaches, cherries, chopped (Candy likes to combine dried fruits with the same fresh fruit -- dried and fresh apricots, etc.)

To serve, mound the salad on a large platter, topped with almonds and feta.


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Wild rice salad
Cranberry rice pudding

Comments

wow, i've never seen or heard of this before :)

it's the first time I see these mixed grains. how interesting & healthy as well!
Your grains reminds me of the japanese tea I bought which includes a variety of rice & tea leaves. The taste is quite nice & particular;)

looks very fascinating. does everything cook at the same time? it sounds as if they´d have different cooking times

Looks yummy. I'm going to look for Assi!

That is really a most interesting product! Thank you for writing about it...I will be looking for it on the next trip to our international market.
I think it would taste pretty good as a side with some robust Indian dishes. Or I would try to make a vegetable "pilaf" with it. Your salad sounds delicious!

Lydia,
I have never seen this product, but since there are many Asian food stores in São Paulo (huge Japanese community) I don't think it would be impossible to find!

Hey you got a blogad already! Go you. :)

All the things you missed when you moved to the South End I also miss. When I lived in Brooklyn there was a bookstore down the street that even allowed me to bring Oreo in! Ethnic groceries are also something I miss, though thankfully I work in NYC where they are relatively nearby!

Now I want to go find some of that stuff...I wonder if they carry it in the Asian market near me in Iowa City. Hmm...will have to check it out. It sounds really interesting and tasty!

Trini, I'd never heard of this either. It's quite a find!

Valentina, that tea sounds fascinating. I'm looking forward to experimenting with these mixed grains.

Lobster, I wondered about the cooking time, too, but the pre-soaking seems to even it out and everything does cook in about the same time. And the texture remains good, too.

Mary, I can tell you exactly where to find it in Providence or Boston.

Nupur, a curry or pilaf would be wonderful made with these mixed grains. Please share a recipe if you do try it; your knowledge of Indian vegetarian cuisine is awe-inspiring!

Patricia, happy hunting -- please let me know if you find this (or maybe you'll find something even more interesting...), and then share your recipes if you use it. A nice Brazilian rice and beans dish, maybe?

Ari, I know there are Asian communities in Connecticut (maybe closer to Hartford?) but I don't know of any particular markets to recommend. I do miss the convenience of living on the outskirts of Chinatown, but fortunately Boston is just an hour away.

Genie, I feel that this is a relatively new product to the market, at least to the markets where I shop. I'll look for an online source, too -- or if you find one, please leave us the link. I can imagine combining this with some of your wonderful garden produce!

Lydia you give me courage. A year ago I bought a bag with contents looking much like this, no English on it at all. I had stumbled across an amazing Asian market.
Now I need to cook this up and try it with your directions.

Oh Lydia congratulate your son-in-law for me, how exciting! And I think your recipe sounds so interesting. Actually my mom cooked a hand made version of your blend a lot in my later growing up years - with a pressure cooker however. There were at least 4 grains and a ton of different kinds of beans, also dried chestnuts/adzuki beans. Pressure cooked especially with some of the sweet sticky rice, it reminded me of a loose mochi or korean ttuk. I have on occasion stirred in raisins to mine for a hot grain breakfast. I believe she said this kind of rice was becoming in style for its health benefits...A lotta fiber!

I have seen this in grocery stores but alas had not cooked with it. I'd be interested in recipes for it for sure...it sounds delicious and looks like a great substitute for rice. I wonder if it could be used for stuffing a chicken or even a turkey!

I've never seen mixed grains like this before, but it sure looks beautiful. I am going to hunt it down and do a little experimenting!

Tanna, those mystery finds in markets (not just Asian markets -- I bring back packages with labels I can't read from everywhere I travel!) sometimes turn out to be the best products. In this case, the mixed grains are something available locally, which is what earns them space in my pantry. Please experiment! Start with the cooking method in this recipe, and see where you go from there.

Callipygia, if I had a pressure cooker, I'd definitely try cooking these mixed grains in it. Breakfast -- now that sounds very interesting!

Veron, I don't know about using it for a stuffing, but definitely it would be a great side dish with turkey. Please try it and let me know what recipes you create!

TW, same for you, please let me know what you come up with. I'm sure you'll be able to find this same brand in a Korean market somewhere in NYC!

Very cool! I will definitely keep my eye out as it sounds like something we would like!

I see similar mixed grains (different brand) in my frequent Asian grocery - it was $5.99 for a good quality vacuum packed 5lbs bag! I wanted to buy it (impulsive) that day but refrain from it because I don't know how to cook it apart from making rice out of it. :O

The cooking instructions made me wonder if a rice cooker could be used. Which brings me to the question: how does a rice cooker work? I'm guessing not by measuring time, but by measuring weight, i.e. when enough water has been evaporated, it's done? I would love to know more. Can a rice cooker be used for items like wheat berries that require long cooking?

I live in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and really miss the ethnic restaurants and grocery stores on Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh, Pa.—both places I've lived before. There's a place in Harrisonburg, about 30 miles from where I live, that's an Asian and Mexican grocer (really) and next time I am in that neighborhood I am going to look for this! Thanks for passing it on!

The Hong Kong Supermarket in Flushing sells this & other brands of mixed grains. I've seen it in the Sunset Park store as well as other stores in both areas. Good stuff.

Joe, I hope you can find this (or something similar) in a market near you -- and when you do, please let me know what you make with it.

Tigerfish, 5 lbs does sound like a lot! But when you're experimenting, you can go through it pretty quickly....hope you'll give it a try.

Lucia, great question. Why not make it in a rice cooker? I admit that I almost always use my rice cooker for rice (not very creative, am I?), so I haven't tried long-cooking grains. But every kind of rice I've tried has come out just great. If you try something like wheat berries, please let me know the result! To answer your question, rice cookers work by sensing evaporation:
http://home.howstuffworks.com/question35.htm

Mollie, welcome to The Perfect Pantry! I think an Asian-Mexican market is the ultimate in convenience shopping -- everything I love under one roof!

Larry, thanks for visiting The Perfect Pantry and for the great tip about a source for these mixed grains. I'm sure all New York Pantry readers will be heading out to Flushing (or Sunset Park) for these grains and other great finds in the markets there.

you and i must be foodie sistas - I picked up a bag just a few days ago. Haven't made it yet. Actually, I have NEVER made this before so it got stuck in the pantry. well golly gee. Now I know what to do with it!

Its the SAME brand even! But mine was $1.20 cheaper!

heehee!

Steamy, I can't wait to see what you make with this! Please leave us a link to your post, if you do write about it. And where do you shop that it's so much cheaper than my market???!

Well, Lydia, you've made me nostalgic for RI and Boston! I've never heard of these mixed grains, but you know I'd love 'em.

Susan, I think this brand is starting to show up in markets all across the country. Seems to be fairly new here, but readers in CA are reporting that they can find it. If you can't, maybe your folks can add it to one of their wonderful food packages... or you'll just have to come back to RI and go shopping!

Ooooh this looks wonderful! Reminds me of the wonderful rice blends from Lundberg, which awed people when we served them in our (long ago) restaurant. As for the tea + rice, that would be genmai cha; there's also a corn version -- they have a seductive flavor. And while you're at the Korean grocery, look for roasted barley tea. Mine is "mugi cha" from Mitoku. I had it at a Korean restaurant in Providence, not available at another in Hartford. And Hartford has a huge Asian market, (?)A. Tong. Good city for ethnic shopping.

I hope you can remove the nasty post made at 2:58...sorry to see your warm community invaded.

Susan, I have heard about a huge market in Hartford but never been there -- good to know the name, and there is a large Asian community in Hartford that's as yet unexplored (by me!). And thanks -- I was away for a few days and got rid of that ugly bit of business as soon as I returned. I've been lucky -- very little blog spam in the 13 months I've been here. Why do people bother....

Google A Dong west hartford: it comes up right away, with map; fun place

Susan, thank you!!!! Next time I'm in Hartford, I'm going to check it out.

We just moved to Hartford and discovered A.Dong recently. Great place, huge store with a huge selection. The prices are very good, although that's probably true of many of the asian markets vs. the chain grocers. When you visit come hungry. There is a Thai restaurant next door called Thai Room, very good Pad Thai, crispy wontons & satay. There is also a vietnamese restaurant that is also very good, we have yet to give it a try.

Rich, this makes me want to jump in the car and head for Hartford. It's only an hour or so from my part of northwestern RI. Sounds like A.Dong is worth the trip. Thanks for visiting The Perfect Pantry!

Having found this recipe after a google search for Asian mixed grains, which I had just picked up at the store, I tried cooking them in the pressure cooker as recommended on the package...maybe 30 minutes was too long, maybe I added too much water. At any rate it didn't come out too well. Any suggestions?

Nancy, I know nothing about cooking with pressure cookers, so I hope another Pantry reader can help with your question. Do different pressure cookers work a bit differently, like microwaves with different wattages?

Great blog! I just stumbled on it from another blog and am learning so much. I'm reading backwards (from most current to old) and was surprised to see this post. Assi brand is quite popular now and started (?) from Assi Market in L.A. I think they started as a wholesaler for Korean restaurants and such. The label basically says Five Mixed Grain. It's not new in Korean culture. A lot of, if not most Korean people eat several grain 'rice' because it's a lot healthier than just plain old white rice and much prettier. Different people use different mixes according to taste. For example, my mom loves red bean and white rice mix but I don't. I love barley and white rice mix, so used to make half red bean, white rice and half barley and white rice. Kinda neat actually. They cook fine in rice cooker or in a pot on stove top. I think pressure cooker makes best rice IMO. You just have to experiment a little bit with different amount of water.

Stacey, welcome to The Perfect Pantry, and thanks so much for this information. I love discovering new ingredients that become a permanent part of my pantry, and this Assi mixed grain "rice" is the latest find. I didn't realize that mixing grains is so common in Korean cooking, but now when I go to Korean restaurants I will pay more attention to that on the menu. And I'm glad to know that this started at a real market, in LA! I haven't gotten into pressure cooker cooking yet, but I hope Nancy, who left the comment above, sees this advice. Thank you!

A Japanese friend brought me some of this recently. I loved it but when I mixed it with my Cuban black beans (a staple I keep in the freezer at all times) it was amazing.

If you like beans, this is a must try. My friend just tops hers with a sprinkle of sesame seed.

AJ, thanks, this really does sound amazing. I make my Cuban black beans with lots of cumin and pepper -- is that how you do yours? It would be a great combination with these beans, I think.

I know this is several years old, but hopefully you still check in. I bought a bag of this recently and cooked some after soaking for 5 hours like the label said. I cooked it in a pot with 2 cup grains and 4 cups water-because that's how I cook brown rice. It took several hours to get the beans done and then the grains were all mushy. Still tastes good but didn't leave my taste buds singing.

I was thinking about either picking out the beans and letting them cook first then adding the rest of the grains and hour later. but I hadn't thought of stirring while it cooks.

Sarah, I do check in, always! I think that rice and beans, by nature, are somewhat bland, and it's important to pair them with strong flavors. I know some people love these mixed grains on their own, but for me, a salad like this is the way to go. (I don't have a pressure cooker, but I wonder if that would be the better way to cook this?)

I just found your site. I'm glad and I will join.

Bob's Red Mill makes a similar product called Beans and Grains. (P.S. Bob's also makes a great soup or bean seasoning. I am not associated with that company.)

I teach pressure cooking classes and I can tell you that is definitely the way to cook beans and any grains. Make risotto in 8 minutes under pressure. I thought I read in one of your posts you had a digital PC That would do the trick. Thanks

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