This and that.
I started a new book of short stories while on our last camping trip by Rebecca Lee called bobcat and other stories. There is a certain part of the story where the narrator gets a new perspective of the words 'this' and 'that' while enjoying a cup of coffee. She points across the room and asks if "[she] could have some of this cream." Most people would ask if they could have some of 'that' cream when referring to something across the room. Turns out, it is a philosophy when using the word this or that. It depends on your personal perspective on what you consider close to you or not. This little moment resonated with me quite strongly. One of those moments where you stop and re-read the sentences a few times over.
Reflecting back I probably only use the word 'this' when I can physically touch an object, obviously, this is my comfort space. I do tend to be somewhat of an introvert, even if it is not immediately evident, but am I really that closed off? I suppose I have been more aloof than usual because I have no idea where my life is headed come August. It is exciting but scary, I am almost paralyzed by the freedom of it. I can dream for hours about what doing 'that' job or moving to 'that' place would be like but nothing has reached the status of 'this.' Nothing feels at home to me. For now my 'this' place has to be the life of a transient voyager and my 'this' place is in food.
I can transcribe this same feeling and personal choice of using the word 'this' or 'that' to choices in food. There are some dished when you see a picture of it or you read the description, this is it. This dish just gets you. I definitely order foods at restaurants this way... and sometimes I miss out because 'that' dish is not close to me. Vermicelli is one of those dishes I typically ignore. Most of the time it is because it is drenched with fish sauce and even if I order it vegetarian I usually end up with a midnight stomach ache and fish poots. Never fear, this fish-free vermicelli is here.
*You want to prepare the carrots/cucumbers in this recipe several hours beforehand at least, so they can marinate. Preferably overnight.
Recipe (serves 4)
Rice noodles - 1 box
Carrots - 3 whole, large carrots, peeled and then cut into thing strips with a peeler.
Cucumber - 1/2 small cucumber, peeled and cut into large matchsticks.
Red cabbage - 1/2 cup, cut into slivers
Mushrooms - 1/2 a small container, cut into slivers (I used baby portabellas)
Daikon radish - 1/2 small radish, cut into thin half-moons
Edamame - 1/2 frozen bag (just the bean, no pods).
Sunflower sprouts - 1 handful (feel free to use any sprouts)
Ginger - 1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and minced (or finely grated).
Coriander seeds - 1TB
Fennel seeds - 1tsp
Rice vinegar - about 1 1/2 cups
Cilantro - 1TB fresh, minced
Thai Basil - 1-2TB fresh, minced
Honey - 1TB (or agave if vegan)
Tamari - 4TB
Limes - 2, juice only
Sesame oil - 2-3TB
Red chile flakes or sriracha - to taste
*Peel and cut the carrots and cucumbers. Place them in a 2 cup mason jar and add in the coriander and fennel seeds. Then cover with rice vinegar mixed with a little water. Let it sit out for several hours at least, overnight it best. The marinating liquid can be kept in the fridge and re-used.
Cook the rice noodles according to the package. During the last 3 minutes of the rice noodles cooking add in the frozen edamame so they de-thaw. Once cooked, drain the noodle/edamame mixture in a colander and rinse with cool water until room temperature.
Slice up all your veggies and have them ready, including the ginger. Add in 1TB of sesame oil into a small skillet on medium low heat. Then add in your ginger and let cook for 1 minute. Add in the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes until soft and slightly brown. Turn off heat and shake in a scant TB of tamari. Set aside.
Mix together the honey, 3TB tamari, 1TB sesame oil, lime juice, fresh herbs, splash of rice vinegar, and a good squeeze of sriracha or large pinch of chile flakes. Place the dressing in a large bowl with the noodles/edamame and toss together until coated. Distribute the noodle mixture into four bowls and top each bowl with a small handful of each vegetable (the carrot/cucumber mixture, fresh red cabbage, fresh daikon radish, gingered mushrooms, and sprouts. Top with some more fresh cilantro, thai basil, and sriracha if desired.
Enjoy this meal.