The citrus flavors of fresh lime and lemongrass and the punch of chiles are gentled by coconut milk. If you cannot find fresh lemongrass, try 1 tablespoon dried, shredded lemongrass wrapped in cheesecloth, and discard when rice is cooked.
To prepare Rice: In small, heavy pot with tight-fitting lid, sauté rice, lemongrass and chile in oil for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add boiling water, coconut milk and salt, and bring to a boil. Stir, reduce heat to very low, cover and cook until all liquid absorbed, about 15 minutes.
To prepare Dressing: Whisk together dressing ingredients in bowl, and set aside.
To prepare Vegetables: Seed pepper, and cut it into thin strips about 11/2 inches long. Blanch strips in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes, until just tender, and set aside in serving bowl. Rinse asparagus, snap off and discard tough stem ends and cut spears on diagonal into 11/2-inch pieces. Blanch in boiling water until just tender, about 3 minutes, and add to serving bowl.
Remove lemongrass pieces when rice is tender, fluff with fork and set aside to cool.
Remove and discard any tough stems from mushrooms; rinse and slice caps into bite-sized pieces. In skillet, combine garlic, ginger, lime peel, chile and oil, and sauté over medium heat for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add mushrooms and salt, and toss well. Cover, reduce heat and cook until mushrooms are softened and begin to release their juices, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add sautéed mushrooms and cooled rice to serving bowl, pour on dressing and toss well. Serve at room temperature, garnished with basil and peanuts or cashews, if desired.
Chardonnay is a major wine variety grown and vinified all over the world. In the bottle, its flavor characteristics can include lean, tropical, oaky, acidic, creamy and floral. To match with this dish, try one in the tropical group such as Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara County Chardonnay.