Watercress and Forbidden Rice Salad with Ginger Vinaigrette

The grass is green once again now compared to when I departed for San Antonio. Like the ground came to life when I just blinked. This came to my attention when Cookie and I were out for a leisurely walk today after work. I watched the springtime display as she tried to chase after every bird and squirrel she saw while controlling me like a bumblebee on a string. Daffodils in cheery yellow have begun to bloom, and the typically unassuming forsythia is putting on a show with its beautiful, arching golden branches. Now is springtime!

I adore taking Cookie, my devoted friend, for walks. I used to ride my bicycle quickly for fitness before I had a dog, and I still like doing so, but everything seems different when you do it slowly. I catch things that I would definitely miss while driving and possibly wouldn’t if I were bike. We were out earlier, and I wrote this piece in my head because I have some of my finest ideas while we’re walking.

I’ve come to understand that I enjoy food photography for the same reason. When I have to stop to take pictures while I’m cooking, it takes longer because it makes me take my time and appreciate the details of the materials and process. For instance, I observe and value the fine stripes on a green onion stalk and the delicate bend in watercress leaves. If you want, I pause and smell the roses when I’m doing food photography.

This lovely salad is an adaptation of a recipe I discovered last month while taking a cooking class for Asian seafood. It was designed by Chef Forster as a salmon side salad, but I added forbidden rice and edamame to make it a heartier dish. For fun, he added some chopped celery, which is a recent import to Asia and is rapidly gaining favor. Celery! a novelty The unknown! While I typically avoid those bland, commonplace veggie platters with celery sticks, I believe chopped celery is vastly underutilized in salads. It gives mixed salads like this one such a wonderful crunch and flavor (and this one).

Also read: Strawberry, Quinoa and Chopped Spinach Salad

This salad is simultaneously light and energizing, crisp and delicate, and crispy. Even though bell peppers are out of season, the mainly green hues are broken up by chopped orange bell pepper, which feels appropriate for this time of year. Even though my pale legs are out of season, I nonetheless strode around in short shorts today. Oh, who am I kidding? My legs are always a pale color.


Ginger Vinaigrette

  • 1 inch nub of ginger, grated or finely chopped (grate it on a Microplane and you won’t have to peel it!)
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup quality peanut oil, olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 ½ teaspoons reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon agave nectar
  • big pinch red pepper flakes


  • 1 big bunch watercress, very roughly chopped
  • 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 to 3 stalks of celery, thinly sliced and roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup green onion, chopped (include both white and green parts)
  • 1 ½ cups shelled edamame (I used frozen)
  • 1 ½ cups cooked forbidden rice or wild rice (use ¾ cup rice to 1 ½ cup water)


  1. Make the dressing by whisking the ingredients together well, and set it aside. Make the dressing in advance (preferably an hour or more, but at least as soon as you start cooking your rice) in order to give the garlic and ginger time to bloom.
  2. Rinse the rice in a mesh colander and then cook it in a rice cooker, according to your manufacturer’s instructions and the volumes given above. Alternatively, you can cook it on the stove. Pour 1 ½ cups of water into a pot and bring it a boil over high heat. Rinse the rice, then add it to the pan. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let it cook until all water is absorbed (35-40 minutes). If it gets too dry, add a splash or more of water as necessary. Fluff with a fork and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Cook the edamame. Bring a pot of water to a boil and pour in frozen edamame. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the edamame is warmed through, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain, and set the edamame aside to cool.
  4. Toss all of the prepared produce in a big bowl. Once the edamame and rice have cooled, add them to the bowl and toss. Whisk your dressing one more time and pour into the bowl, and toss well. Serve at room temperature or chilled.