Of rice and men

[Recipe 1] MARION’S BROWN RICE, MIXED NUT and GINGER SALAD transforms into
[Recipe 2] GOLDEN RICE BALLS with CHUNKY PEANUT and COCONUT SAUCE
……………..
The ‘men’ part of my post title pertains to the husband and his man friends, who are out reclaiming their youth tonight at Iggy and the Stooges, and the Beasts of Bourbon. He’ll no doubt be clunking down our hallway at some revolting hour.
I, on the other hand, am a lady of good health and virtue. I offer you this wholesome brown rice, mixed nut and ginger salad. It’s full of flavour and texture, with a good wallop of zing from the ginger; and whenever I bring it to a BBQ, as I did a couple of weeks ago, the recipe is always requested. It’s one of ‘those’ recipes. I’m sure you all have one. It’s my mother-in-law Marion’s specialty and she has been making it for years. It nearly always features on the table at family gatherings (along with Marion’s mysterious ‘24 hour salad’).
The recipe makes enough for 6, plus planned-overs to reserve (undressed, minus the capsicum) for a batch of fantastic, golden rice balls with chunky peanut and coconut sauce. My 8-year old loves these in wraps with chilli slaw.
Hope you all have a beautiful Easter.

Brown rice, ginger and mixed nut salad[Recipe 1] Marion’s brown rice, mixed nut and ginger salad

Ingredients (serves 4–6 for two meals, ie. salad serves 6, rice balls serve 4):
3 cups (600g) uncooked medium-grain brown rice
6 spring onions (scallions), sliced
150g (5¼ oz) raisins
100g (3½ oz) walnuts, roasted and roughly chopped
75g (2½ oz) cashews, roasted and roughly chopped
9 small cloves garlic, very finely chopped
7½ cm (3”) piece ginger, grated and chopped (equivalent to 3 tablespoons)
½ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small red capsicum (bell pepper), thinly sliced (for salad only)
1 small yellow capsicum (bell pepper), thinly sliced (for salad only)
Dressing (for salad only):
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup soy sauce (gluten-free, if required)
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Place rice in a large saucepan. Add 5–6 litres (5–6 quarts) cold water. Bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 35–40 minutes, until cooked and not too chewy.
Remove rice from heat. Rinse, and drain well. Refrigerate for at least two hours, or overnight.
Add spring onions, raisins, toasted walnuts, toasted cashews, garlic, ginger and parsley. Season to taste, and mix well.
Reserve ⅓ of the undressed brown rice salad (4 cups) for the Golden rice balls.
Make the dressing by whisking ingredients together. Pour over remaining brown rice salad, add capsicum and toss together. Serve.

  • 3 cups uncooked brown rice yields 9 cups cooked rice.
  • Cooked brown rice can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
  • Planned-overs (undressed salad) can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, so you can make the rice balls later in the week.
  • If you’d prefer to make the salad alone, you can play around with quantities. It’s hard to go wrong – just give it a taste and adjust the dressing up or down accordingly.
  • Fussy kid tip: reserve a cup of cooked brown rice, a tablespoon of finely chopped roasted nuts and a tiny splash of dressing; add cooked corn kernels and peas, and even a small drained can of tuna, and the kids will be happy. You’ll find kids will hoover the rice balls though, no adjustment necessary!

Brown rice balls with chunky peanut sauce

[Recipe 2] Golden rice balls with chunky peanut and coconut sauce

Ingredients (serves 4):
4 cups reserved undressed brown rice salad
125g (4½ oz) tofu
2 tablespoons sweet chilli sauce
1 egg, lightly whisked
½ cup (75g) atta flour
Peanut oil for deep frying
Chunky peanut and coconut sauce, to serve
Chilli slaw with crispy noodles, to serve (optional)

Place reserved undressed brown rice salad in a large bowl.
Add tofu, chilli sauce, egg and flour and mix well with your hands. Form mixture into golfball-sized balls.
Refrigerate for at least one hour.
Heat the peanut oil in a deep saucepan. Deep-fry the rice balls in two batches at 180°C (350ºF) for approximately 3 minutes, until golden brown. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test whether the oil is ready by dropping a few pieces of cooked rice in the pot. They should sizzle as soon as they hit the oil.
Drain rice balls on kitchen paper and serve immediately with chunky peanut and coconut sauce and Chilli slaw with crispy noodles (or a simple green salad).
Makes approx. 20–22 rice balls.

  • These balls are extra crunchy and delicious when deep-fried, but if you have an aversion to deep-frying, they can also be shallow-fried in ¼–½  cup of peanut oil. Roll the balls around in the oil with a slotted spoon or tongs, to ensure they brown evenly.
  • Atta flour is a traditional wholemeal Indian flour made from durum wheat, with visible fine bran particles. It is available from large supermarkets, Indian and Pakistani grocers. In this recipe it can be replaced with dry breadcrumbs if unavailable.
  • If peanut sauce doesn’t float your boat, the rice balls are also lovely served with chilli mayo.

35 thoughts on “Of rice and men

  1. Yum yum yum! I adore brown rice. Love the idea of the rice balls, I’ve never thought of such a thing before. So clever. By the way Saskia, I was going to ask you a bit more about your illustrations… I absolutely love them. Do you illustrate for any magazines or other publications/blogs etc? I do think your style looks familiar but I can’t place it.
    I’m going to try the second recipe… or both… very soon! Thanks lovely! xx

    • Thanks Laura! I made this salad again (and the balls) last week. They’re both pretty yum. Thanks so much for the illustration compliment! I do illustrate for mags and other pubs. I work here with my husband, so I guess you may have seen my work around!

    • Oh no Fran! I hope you weren’t trying to find atta rice because there is no such thing! It’s atta flour.
      If you were in fact searching for atta flour though, and your comment was a typo; you can find it at large supermarkets, and Indian/Pakistani grocers. My local Coles stocks it. You can use wholemeal flour, besan (chickpea) flour or even dry breadcrumbs, if you can’t find it. Happy hunting!

    • Thanks Cass. Yep, I was a bit anti-brown rice too for a while. I used to undercook it though, so it was unpleasantly chewy. A few minutes longer makes all the difference I’ve found.

  2. I made a similar recipe like your 1st salad & I loved it too! Your recipe looks & sounds divine too! I especially love your tasty balls recipes, much more even! MMMMMMMM! Beautiful pics too, Saskia!

  3. This salad really is a fantastic antidote to Easter Eggs. I love this sort of resourceful and rule breaking Aussie invention — I can already see why you get asked for the recipe at barbies, without even trying it! And the rice balls — whoa! Your ability to hone in on what people want to eat, with a healthy slant, reminds me of Bill Grainger, whom I LOVE.

    • Thanks so much Sandra, for the lovely compliment. I LOVE Bill Grainger too. He’s the quintessential Aussie chef, and one of my foodie heroes (along with Stephanie and Maggie).

  4. This looks so incredibly delicious Saskia! I love all the ingredients and flavors going on. I’m a huge rice fan. Those balls look delicious too. Your dishes are always so beautiful and well thought out. I’m totally digging your utensils too by the way. This is definitely a salad on my to-do list! 🙂

    • Thanks so much for the lovely comment! I could say exactly the same thing about your gorgeous dishes. We’re big rice fans here too. I’m looking at a table laden with chocolate eggs as we speak – definitely going to need an injection of health tomorrow.

  5. I’m really getting into brown rice recently, so this caught my eye. You always do such great flavour combination Saskia! Love the post title too. I’ve never heard of atta flour, can you enlighten me?

    • Thanks df. ‘Atta’ actually means ‘flour’ in most Indian dialects, so Atta Flour probably sounds as ridiculous as ‘Chai Tea’ to folks with a South Asian background! In Australia we use the term to refer to whole wheat flour, made from hard wheat. It’s commonly available here (particularly where I live as there is a large Indian community). It’s made from ground whole wheat grains, with nothing removed, so it’s quite coarse and very nutritious. It’s fantastic to use for flatbreads and pizza. I always have it in the pantry, which is why I used it in this recipe. You could use stone-ground wheat flour, or even dry breadcrumbs though, if you can’t find it. I’m curious to know whether it’s available in the States. Gosh, that was a wordy response, like a mini-blog post. Hope you’re still awake!

      • Thanks for the most educational response! I totally laughed when you mentioned ‘chai tea’ as that is one redundancy I’m familiar with. Fantastic to know what you mean. I think ‘wholemeal’ flour is probably closest for us in North America.

  6. Those salad servers are so cute! I love brown rice, so your salad would be a winner for me too! Hope you have a lovely Easter weekend, Saskia x

    • Hi Norma. Great question! I use medium grain as I find it works best for salads. In Australia when ‘brown rice’ is specified it refers to medium grain, which is the most readily-available. The variety will be stipulated only when it’s not medium. Will adjust the recipe accordingly though.

  7. Saskia I feel like I could spend hours on your site! I am planning to make your nori rice balls on Friday as a Good Friday morning activity with the girls — since my happy face nori cutters just arrived. Now you’ve presented me with another rice ball recipe that I’m sure the girls would love. But that salad has my name on it! (BTW, I love your groovy leaf dish!)

    • Thanks so much. Funny, I was just eyeing off my smiley face nori cutters yesterday! We’re on school holidays from tomorrow, and I was thinking onigiri balls would be a good cooking activity too. And thanks – I do love that dish too. I’ve had it since I was 20 (a loooong time ago).

  8. Your salad is something else! Fresh, brightly colored, with many textures and flavors. I bet this salad is going to find its way to a number of dinner tables during the weeks ahead and even more once Summer gets here. It will make a great lunch and be perfect to serve at a barbecue.

  9. pinned!! and drooling over this salad. i think it’s past lunchtime now. hey!! another recipe i think i can handle and have most ingredients except the cashews. maybe i’ll make this one for the family reunion bbq on sat!! yeah!! i hope the stooges show rocked!!

  10. What a fabulous antidote for all those chocolate Easter eggs i will eat, plus your recipes are full of my very favorite ingredients. I can’t wait to start cooking this recipe. Thanks Saskia and a Happy Easter to you and your men.

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