Japanese Style Rice Salad

Yeah I know I tagged this as vegan/vegetarian but read on.....

I confess I'm not a huge fan of green salads. I eat plenty of them, but I usually start with all the additions and nibble at the greens.

I bought a Mr Bento Lunch Jar and have been searching for tasty grain, noodle and bean salads for the main course container.

This recipe seemed right up my alley. It comes from Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I did replace the tofu with shrimp because I didn't want to bake. I used water instead of sake and skipped the extra sugar. And i used short grain brown rice.

It is really good and mild compared to the spicy dishes I usually eat. i'm thinking it would be a bitbolder with the sake. Next time.

Japanese-Style Rice Salad
Time: 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the type of rice
Yield: 4 to 8 servings.

1 1/2 to 2 cups short-grain brown or white rice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped scallion
1 small or 1/2 large red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped or shredded celery
1/4 cup finely chopped or shredded carrot
1 cup firm tofu, preferably baked, optional
6 tablespoons miso paste
3/4 cup warm water or sake
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon mirin or honey
1 tablespoon rice vinegar, or more to taste
2 sheets of nori, lightly toasted
2 tablespoons black or white sesame seeds, toasted.

1. Cook rice in abundant salted water, as you would pasta, until it's just done; white rice will take 10 to 15 minutes, brown 30 or a little longer. Drain, rinse in cold water, drain again, then combine with vegetables and tofu in a large bowl.

2. Put black pepper, miso, water or sake, sugar, mirin or honey, and vinegar in a small bowl, and whisk together. Taste, and add more vinegar and a pinch of salt, if needed.

3. Combine rice mixture with miso dressing with 2 big forks, fluffing rice and tossing gently to separate grains.

4. Crumble nori over salad and sprinkle with sesame seeds, taste, and adjust seasoning or moisten with a little more dressing. Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate for up to a day, bringing salad back to room temperature before serving.