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