Saturday, 20 July 2013

Thai beef vermicelli lettuce wraps

I love to watch him cook. He wears my girlie apron (I've upgraded and don't wear one nowadays). He is always very cautious of the oil splattering on him - that reminds me of fencing. It's always hilarious to see him bouncing back and forth to drop things into the pan and shielding with a pan cover. When we cook, most often there isn't a recipe. I would sometimes sit on the counter bench watching and orchestrating the ritual of putting the ingredients together. Sometimes I would be his assistant helping him on the mis en place. But always, we would cook together like an team, like a tango dance. I will sizzle the garlic, he would bounce to drop in the veggies. I'll splash the wine, he will tilt the pan and let it catch fire. He loves to flambé anything saying that he looked like a professional chef. And yes, in that girlie apron.
We refine recipes together until the recipe became our weekly staple that we would always fall back onto on lazy nights. He became more confident with each cooking adventure. And now, proudly, he is capable of cooking our dinner all by himself. He always says that I gave him the best gift. The knowledge to cook tasty meals and to feed himself well (He used to microwave unseasoned chicken strips and drench them with ketchup. It's either that or instant noodles). He use a manual garlic chopper that mince garlic in a few turns of the hand. It's his favorite kitchen tool where he bought on his own accord on one of those housewives kitchen gadgets demonstration. It's quite amusing whenever I think of that day when he bought it. His eyes lighted up, standing on the front row among the ladies. He's a big fella, mind you.
Cooking simple dinner like this is what I always look forward to. Ironically, It was these moments that he taught me to cook simply because he can only manage a few ingredients at a time. We gravitates towards fresh healthy greens and we mimicked to be the carrot, the cucumber or the lettuce, or whatever we had on hand that we are cooking that night. He has a natural talent of silly impersonating everything. I love how he make me laugh every time. The kitchen is our happy place and we create snapshots of our own little stories sharing in here on this blog as we cook along. After all, life is about celebrating these small moments of sweetness.

This recipe continues to evolve with different variation. Sometimes we use mince chicken or pork. It's really quite versatile. Now I have a crazy mint plant growing wildly, I am constantly adding them to recipes and this is one recipe that jells so well together. Thai beef wraps are one of our favorite stable weeknight meals where we eat with our fingers and a spoon. I must say, he does cook this better than I.

One year ago: Thai seafood vermicelli salad

Ingredients
500g mince beef - sometimes we mixed beef and pork or beef and chicken. Feel free to experiment.
1 whole garlic, finely minced
1 large onion, finely minced - best to use red onion
2 serving of dried vermicelli - If you don't intend to use vermicelli, adjust the seasoning accordingly.
1 heap tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon chili flakes
2 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
Juice of 1 lemon or 2 limes or both
A bunch of basil
Olive oil for cooking

Garnish
A big bunch of mint
2 red chili, deseeded and finely sliced
1 thinly sliced large red onion
Lettuce cups for serving

Method
Soak vermicelli till soften and blanch for ½ mins. Immediately run through cold water to stop cooking. Drain and cut into small strands. Set aside in a mixing bowl.

In a saucepan on medium high heat, add olive oil, add the onions, sauté for a min. Add in the sugar, chili flakes and garlic and sauté until fragrant. The sugar added at this point gives a nice caramelize flavor. Add in the mince beef and cook until almost cook. Add the sauces and fry until the beef is slightly browned. Toss in the basil and cook until just wilted.

Tilt all the content on the vermicelli, toss the sliced chilies, sliced onion and mint together. Taste with lemon juice and more fish sauce if required.

Serve in a large bowl with the lettuce at the side. We eat with our fingers and a spoon.

Till next post, ss.

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