When the temperature climbs, I turn to lighter dishes. While my dinner can lighten up, I wish I can do the same with my mood. This week I’m finally making real progress on clearing those pesky concussion symptoms. Feeling “normal” is very much underrated until you can no longer take it for granted. One thing that I learned from previous concussion recoveries is that getting upset, especially crying, is horrible for healing. Unfortunately, a common symptom for concussion is depression. Put the two together and you can see the vicious cycle that feeds itself. As luck would have it, similar to my experience in 2012, I once again have to deal with break up and concussion recovery at the same time. I spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to detach myself from emotions even though I have endless amount of tears to shed. It’s almost a comical situation if I am not so sad about it all.
Without training nor a significant other, I have a lot of free time on weekends. I keep myself occupied with boring repetitive tasks in the kitchen. Last Saturday, I spent hours cutting up huge amounts of green papaya, cucumbers, carrots, daikons, and Vietnamese sausage into skinny matchsticks. They are the building blocks for summer rolls and green papaya salad. Exactly how much cutting and chopping did I do? Well, I had enough rolls and salads for 6 dinners. Ridiculous. No wonder my hand was sore from holding the knife for so long.
The cucumber, carrot, and daikon were made into quick pickles. The tangy sweet do chua is a personal favourite. I made a pickling liquid of equal parts white vinegar and sugar with a bit of salt. I stuffed the jars with vegetable and fill with enough liquid to cover. It took an hour before the vegetable softened and tasted puckery sweet.
For the summer rolls, I soaked rice paper in cold water until it became pliable. I piled on Thai basil, cilantro, green papaya, sausage, and pickled vegetable. I formed the bundle into a tight roll and simply stored in an airtight container in the fridge. I was amaze that it held up so well for 5 days!
The dipping sauce is a simple nuoc cham (see the recipe here) made with lime juice, palm sugar, fish sauce, and bird’s eye chilli. I love the direction of this recipe because it makes so much sense. I build a limeade with added savoury notes from fish sauce. Now I can make nuoc cham without recipes from now on. Truth be told, my rolls didn’t really need a dipping sauce since the pickled vegetable already impart so much flavour. However, it certainly didn’t hurt.
As for the salad, it was a haphazard affair of throwing a bit of everything in a bowl and call it a day, kind of like a deconstructed summer roll. I topped mine with crispy fried shallots because they tasted awesome.
Even though my solo dinner can be as simple as I’m lazy, I wanted something heartier for family dinner with Little Brother. On Saturday, I made Coconut Red Curry with Tofu served on vermicelli, roughly followed Melissa Clark’s recipe on The New York Times. I never knew about the convenience of ready-made red curry paste until now! I used the Mae Ploy brand because the list of ingredients only consists of items that I would buy from grocery store. No weird chemicals, thank goodness! The stir fry was made more substantial with mushroom and snow peas. Oh, and the package direction for the vermicelli lied. It says only soaking is required but the rice noodles tasted raw. Urgh, live and learn.
On Sunday, I went for something even a little more elaborate. I used Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe as a guideline and made Mango Duck in Red Curry Sauce with Sugar Snap Peas. What a treat! The duck breast was marinated in red curry paste for an afternoon before I seared it to rendered some fat. Juicy chunks of ataulfo mangoes and crunchy snap peas cut the richness of the coconut milk-enriched sauce. A bowl of jasmine rice was just right to mop up all the delicious sauce.
I successfully managed to lighten up my dinner. I hope the day will soon arrive when I can unload the burden of my heart too.