Tag Archives: cilantro

Honey Salmon with Noodles

Typical. I leave in three weeks, and now the weather decides to act somewhat summery.

Then again, I leave in three weeks. I have plenty of time to remember what the sun feels like, and perhaps even don a bikini at an outdoor pool. Also on the agenda: more museums, more clubs, a lake visit, and a trip to Salzburg to pretend I’m in The Sound of Music. I’ll even attempt to take pictures of things other than food, but I’m not making any promises. I can only focus on so many interests, and food trumps scenic vistas any time–probably because they possess the power to make me salivate months after being taken. Mountain ranges do not.

This recipe is an Asian-inspired recipe from a cookbook written by an Australian cookbook author and translated into Germany. Oh, globalization. Incidentally, the cookbook is called something completely different in German, but I prefer the title My Spontaneous Kitchen to the original title since mine usually is, and it suits me. (On a purely tangential note, the German title for the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall is Never Have Sex with Your Ex.)

Anyway, I’m basically infatuated with this meal. It’s perfect for summer–refreshing, brimming with fresh herbs and vegetables, and light, so long as you don’t consume as much of it as I did. Also, everything comes together in under 20 minutes. Think of it as ramen for grown-ups. (The ones who don’t want hypertension, at least.)

Honey Salmon with Noodles:
Serves 4
1 package (8 ounces) Chinese noodles
5 sprigs of cilantro, coarsely chopped
3 mint leaves, sliced
5 basil leaves, sliced
2 zucchini, grated
1 tablespoon lime juice
3 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons honey, divided
4 salmon filets, cut in strips 1/2 inch wide
salt & pepper

1) Set a pot of water to boil for the noodles and preheat a pan on medium heat for the salmon (you could also grill the salmon). In a large bowl, mix cilantro, mint, basil, zucchini, lime juice, soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of honey.
2) Cook noodles for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and toss with the sauce. Taste noodles, then add more herbs as desired.
3)  Spread the remaining 2 tablespoons of honey on the salmon. Add salt and pepper. Cook salmon on the pan for 2 minutes on each side. Serve over noodles and sprinkle with more cilantro.

Tomato & Mango Salsa

It’s really difficult for me to construct legible sentences right now. ‘CAUSE I’M BOOKING MY TICKET FOR MUNICH. I really want to abuse the exclamation point and assault the keyboard with my hands to construct made-up expletives, but I’m refraining from both. I will say this, however: I am ecstatic. And beneath that excitement, I’m harboring a whole gallon of tears in thinking about leaving this place.

This place. Oh, this place. I believe this blog entry sums it up nicely, with a freshman perspective that still resonates with me, sans a few perceptions that desperately needed three more years of college. (And now they get to face “real” adulthood, lucky them.) My favorite line is “Maybe Disney is the happiest place on earth for some people, but mine is right here, with Roy Williams as our Mickey Mouse.” I always used to say that when I gave tours, because I absolutely mean(t) it. I’m leaving here happier than I was when I entered, which is quite an endorsement when I consider how much more I know about the world now. Like Disney World, however, I can’t stay here forever, nor should I. How else will I know what’s Out There?

So, yes, I could cry (and I will). I could cry for what I’m leaving behind, for who I’m leaving behind, but the real value is in what I’m bringing with me. And those things make me smile. It’s like Kurt Vonnegut said:

Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.

I can’t promise I’ll remember this bit of wisdom when I’m throwing my mortarboard into the air and hugging my beautiful friends and packing up the last of my clothes before boarding a plane to Munich, but I promise I’ll follow up those tears with a healthy dose of laughter. What’s Next could be even better than What’s Now, and I refuse to preface the future with an excess of sadness.

In other news, I made this salsa just in time for Cinco de Mayo, a holiday whose significance I always forget.

A Cinco de Mayo celebration. That also makes me smile.

Tomato & Mango Salsa:
Makes about eight cups of salsa
4 cloves of garlic
2 jalapeños, roughly chopped and de-seeded to desired heat level
1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 small red onion, roughly chopped
a few sprigs of cilantro
fresh oregano (optional)
4 small mangoes, diced
4 medium tomatoes, diced (I also blanched them first)
1 lime
1 tablespoon sugar
salt & pepper to taste

1) In a food processor, mince the garlic. Add the jalapeños, onions, cilantro and oregano and pulse until the onions are diced well.
2) In a large bowl, combine the mangoes and tomatoes with the jalapeño and onion mixture. Squeeze the lime over the top.
3) Stir in sugar, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate–this salsa is best served cold.

I eat this salsa with tortilla chips and black bean quesadillas. I think it’d be wonderful with grilled fish, though. I’ll keep you posted. Or maybe you can tell me?

Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Shrimp

I spent a lot of my mid- to late childhood looking for opportunities to absorb information and develop new and unusual skills. For attention-seeking purposes, mostly. (I was a classic case of only child interrupted by the birth of younger siblings–who I adore, for the record.)

There was the keyboarding phase in third grade, where I prided myself on reaching the end of our keyboarding book, thus becoming the second most-talented musician in the class. The first was a girl who’d been taking piano lessons for years. I comforted myself with the thought that she’d actually had to practice outside of school.

There was the Titanic phase, where I memorized startling statistics about the lifeboat-to-passenger ratio, the speed with which the boat sank, and the number of chances that the boat manufacturer, captain and crew had to rectify the situation before it was too late. I imagine I was quite a hoot at parties.

There was the petitioning phase, where I envisioned myself as a sort of vanguard for elementary school girls’ rights. My friend and I crafted a particularly angry letter regarding our disgust at being forced to watch Aladdin on a field trip bus. The movie, we felt, was sexist.

Then, there was the chopstick phase. My parents bought me one of those American Girl books that allegedly taught useful skills, like blowing double bubbles and chopstick maneuvering. But, oh, did I think that learning to properly handle chopsticks was an admirable skill.

Every time we went to any Asian restaurant, I’d formally request the grown-up chopsticks and sit there eating in silent pride, just waiting for someone to comment on my cultured demeanor. I’d look eagerly to the door every few minutes, hoping a local television reporter would just happen upon this charming little scene, a young white girl using chopsticks:

Reporter: What…? Is that a young white girl using chopsticks? Why, she can’t be more than eight! She must be some kind of prodigy!
Cameraman: I’ve never seen anything like this. We’d better get this kid in front of a camera stat!

It never happened. If it had, you probably would’ve seen my face on cereal boxes throughout the late 90s. I was ambitious.

Still, when I eat at any restaurant that requires the use of chopsticks, I find myself wondering if that reporter will ever come striding in…

Fortunately, unless you’re feeling like I was circa 1998, this recipe does not require chopsticks. I first made Vietnamese spring rolls in my food studies course last year, although I’ve been enjoying them at restaurants for years. They’re simple, fresh, and light, which means you can definitely have dessert. They also remind me of spring. (It’s made an early appearance in NC this year!)

The rice wrappers, vermicelli and basil can be found at any Asian market. These can also be filled with pork, or remove the shrimp and make them vegetarian/vegan-friendly. I like them with peanut sauce, but you can also serve them with fish sauce, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Oh, and I always mix up the leftovers with additional vermicelli to make a cold noodle salad. You could just skip to that step.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Shrimp:
Serves 4
8 round rice wrappers
2 cups vermicelli (rice noodles), cooked
16 shrimp, tails removed and cut lengthwise
a few leaves/sprigs of Thai basil, mint and cilantro
1 carrot, sliced into thin strips
1 cucumber, sliced into thin strips

1) Take a baking sheet with a lip and fill it with 1/4 inch of water, then heat on low heat over the stovetop. (Really low heat! Your fingers are going to touch this water.) Take a rice wrapper and feel for the rough side. Place the wrapper rough-side-up in the water and left soften for about 10 seconds. Remove to a plate.
2) Arrange four slices of shrimp lengthwise along the center of the wrapper. Top with a few pieces of basil, mint and cilantro, followed by strips of carrot and cucumber.
3) Grab a small fistful of vermicelli and place over the carrot and cucumber. Carefully wrap the rice wrapper by folding the top and bottom of the wrapper over the layers of shrimp, veggies and vermicelli. Then roll the wrapper upburrito-style.
4) Repeat the process for the remaining spring rolls.

Peanut Sauce:
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon peanut butter

1) Stir to combine.

What weird/funny skills did you have as a child?