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Author Notes: Back in the seventies I worked for a catering company in Cambridge, Massachusetts called Caras & Rowe, run by the estimable and talented Ms. Rebecca Caras. Besides preparing food for events in and around Boston, we also made food to be sold at several of the area's takeout shops. One of my favorites of these recipes was a rice salad with peas, radishes, scallions, and dill. I've taken that salad in an Asian direction with a light rice vinegar and toasted sesame oil dressing. I've also added some seared and sliced steak and topped it all off with a dollop of wasabi sour cream. If the cuts of beef I recommend don't fit your budget, just use a less expensive cut, like flank steak. The resulting dish is both refreshing and substantial. - Sara Moulton (from "Sara Moulton's Everyday Family Dinners") —Sara Moulton
For the Salad and Beef
- 1 cup raw brown rice or white rice or 3 cups cooked rice
- Sesame Dressing (recipe follows)
- 1 to 1 1/2 pounds pounds top loin or sirloin steak, cut 1 1/2 inches thick
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/4 pound sugar snap peas (unshelled) or 1 cup thawed frozen peas
- 4 large radishes
- 4 medium scallions
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons prepared wasabi
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce (low sodium, if you prefer)
For the Sesame Dressing
- 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (low sodium, if you prefer)
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Stir in the rice; reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for about 45 minutes for brown rice or 17 minutes for white, or until tender. Meanwhile, prepare the Sesame Dressing. When the rice is tender, drain it, rinse it in cold water, thoroughly drain it again, and toss it with the Sesame Dressing in a medium bowl.
- Meanwhile, season the steak on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat until very hot. Cook the steak, turning once, for about 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove the steak to a plate and set it aside for 5 minutes; cover and chill it for at least 20 minutes, or until the rice has cooked.
- While the steak is chilling, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat; prepare a medium bowl of ice and water. Add the whole pea pods to the boiling water; return the water to a boil, remove and drain the peas, and plunge them into the ice and water. When the peas have cooled, drain them thoroughly and pat them dry. Cut them crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices (about 1 cup). Halve the radishes through the root, lay them flat, and thinly slice them (about 1 cup). Trim and thinly slice the scallions (about 1/2 cup). Add the cut pea pods (or thawed peas, if using), radishes, and scallions to the rice and toss to combine.
- Make the wasabi dressing. Whisk together the sour cream, steak juices form the steak plate, wasabi, and soy sauce in a small bowl.
- To serve, mound some of the rice salad mixture in the center of each of 4 plates. Thinly slice the meat and arrange some slices on top of each portion of rice salad. Drizzle with the wasabi dressing.
- For the Sesame Dressing (makes 1/2 cup): Whisk together 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Whisk in 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons soy sauce (low sodium, if you prefer), and 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil.