It is the culinary solstice that celebrates the arrival of summer: the rice salad. We will never know how much we will consume before September arrives, but precisely because this dish has a recurring but ephemeral life cycle. The risk not to run is to eat it in a version trivialised by haste, by the illusion that it is a very fast dish to do in a few minutes.
Okay, this is not haute cuisine, but there are a number of mistakes that we carry out in many (not all) that perhaps it is time to delete from the recipe book starting this summer. What are the four most common rice salad errors ?
# 1 Serve it too hot or too cold. Starting from the conviction that the rice salad is a “battle” dish, rapid, unpretentious, you can dress it and serve it just after it has been drained. Many make the same mistake with cold pasta. Just like for sushi, the rice must be at room temperature, when it is seasoned, and fresh when eaten. The best procedure to follow ]is to cool it with running water just drained and let it rest before seasoning. Then, once seasoned, it is kept in the fridge and no, it is not served immediately. We wait at least five minutes, better ten if the day is very hot. It is rice salad, not rice in chicken broth.
# 2 Use mayonnaise. Yes, there are those who believe that mayonnaise is one of the main ingredients. But no, and there are many reasons not to add it, not even as a variation on our theme. First of all, why drastically increase the caloric portion of a fresh and light summer dish? A spoonful of mayonnaise brings about 99 Kcal, if we put 4 or 5, the counter goes crazy. It’s not worth it, because trying to dress it instead with oil and lemon, in addition to lowering the cholesterol level, we find that up to that moment we have not eaten rice salad but mayonnaise salad. The mayonnaise, very good on fish and other dishes, covers all the flavours of the vegetables that we have lovingly accompanied with rice, and it’s a shame. Another good reason to avoid it is that mayonnaise, in the summer, well, is not the best seasoning to consume. Unless it is vegan, mayonnaise contains raw eggs. With the heat, perhaps by transporting our rice salad to the beach, where it could also be waiting to be eaten under the umbrella for a couple of hours, it can become a festival of bacteria and cause food poisoning.
# 3 Use ready-made condiment jars. All right, chorus of protests. There are some particularly good brands. But it’s always about processed food. It is full of preservatives, glutamate… it kills the ritual of preparing things with its own hands, which instead makes the food more precious and makes it consume with more parsimony and awareness. Because if we spend months, for example, to prepare a good limoncello, we will surely sip it like an elixir. Ditto with a salad that we dedicated a little more time to unscrewing the cap of a jar. And then, the vegetables chosen by us will always be better than those someone randomly chose for us. Not to mention that a rice salad is not just pickles and stop.
# 4 Use any rice. It’s okay that we have become consumers of sushi, but while to prepare that we need a rice that is glued (otherwise goodbye rolls), to prepare the rice salad it needs a type that instead remains well detached for grain, without becoming a single block interspersed with vegetables. It must therefore be a fine-grain rice that keeps cooking. Not necessarily white. But if it is an emergency, the Arborio is also fine, which is easier to find at home. No rice for minestrone or arancini. The important thing, however, is always to turn off the heat and drain it when it is still al dente. That extra softness will absorb it from the seasoning, so it is better not to risk bringing it to the table, or under the umbrella, completely overcooked. Even if, by dint of diving, the appetite could be of those that don’t make you go so much for the thin …