When I Can’t Travel In The Literal Sense, I Travel In The Gastronomical Sense. And Today We’re Going To Thailand. Kind Of.
I realized this morning that I didn’t really share many recipes with you over the winter. I have this fancy new recipe page, yet it’s been feeling neglected — like that gorgeous pair of pumps you only wore once because they cut into your toe-skin or guys, that condom you stuck in your wallet when you were fifteen.
See? I know what you go through. That’s why you’re here.
I didn’t post many recipes because I wasn’t really taking any pictures of the recipes. My kitchen, much as I love the layout and functionality, is really awful when it comes to natural light. My whole house is. Which is awesome when it comes to delaying those North Carolina air conditioning bills, but not-so-awesome when it comes to photography. And of course it’s worse in the winter, what with the sun setting at like 5:00 p.m.
Also, I’m just not very good at cooking.
I know — WHAT?
It’s been brought to my attention that some of you think I’m actually good at cooking because I post recipes and instructions and other things that make it look like I know what I’m doing, and I think it’s very important that I clear something up right here and now: I DON’T KNOW HOW TO COOK.
Like, I’m not “a natural.”
I don’t have that innate ability to add a pinch of this or a dash of that to make everything taste right. I post recipes because, well, I think it’s important to try new things. It’s part of my treatment as a Domestiphobe. And I enjoy the added challenge of setting my focal point on a DSLR while trying not to break my fried goat cheese balls. It makes me feel accomplished, even if I only end up with a single in-tact ball at the end. I’m building my repertoire of accomplishments so that if I’m lucky enough to become old and full of wrinkles, I can look back on my life and know that at the very least, I tried things. It’s like a resume — they only want to see a list of your accomplishments. They never actually ask how well you completed the task.
So it’s true.
Many nights what I make looks really really pretty and delicious, but then we eat it and it’s meh. And many nights what I make looks horrible and lumpy and sometimes like it’s already been eaten once before, but then we try it and it’s fantastic. So I’m always torn on what to share with you because of course I want it to taste good, but it also has to look pretty decent to make up for my limited in-kitchen photography skills. And I made something about a week ago that I think fits the bill.
Since Justin and I eat out so much when we travel, we often try to eat a bit healthier while we’re at home. Not all of the time, obviously, but I try to cut out meats and cheeses and heavy creams several times a week, and then make up for it with one really decadent meal.
But this meal? Not so decadent. Just tasty. And simple. And it looks fancy enough for company. Next time I’d definitely cut it in half since it made enough to fill a HUGE serving dish, which is crazy considering I only used half of a box of rice noodles. Apparently rice noodles mean BIDNESS and totally try to take over the world once they’re cooked. Noted.
The recipe comes from here, and the only major thing I changed is that I added some nice stir-fry veggies to make it more of a meal than just noodles.
Easy Thai Rice Noodle Stir-Fry with Basil Cashew Sauce
To make it the way I did, you will need:
- 6-10 oz. Thai rice noodles (I used the wide-ish flat ones – about 8 oz.)
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil for stir-frying
- Veggies (optional – I used fresh broccoli, mushrooms, and snow pea pods)
- Toppings: handful fresh basil, plus a handful of chopped or ground cashews
- 1/2 cup fresh basil
- 1/3 cup dry roasted unsalted cashews (I toasted unsalted cashews on the stovetop because I couldn’t find “dry roasted”)
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 4 Tbsp. (1/4 cup) coconut OR olive oil (I used coconut oil)
- 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice OR fresh lemon juice (I used lime juice)
- 1 Tbsp. fish sauce OR 1+1/2 Tbsp. [wheat-free] soy sauce for vegetarians/vegans (I used fish sauce)
- optional: 1 red chili, minced OR 1/4 cayenne pepper OR 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. dry crushed chili (I’m pretty sure I forgot this part. But I probably would’ve used cayenne.)
1) Look. I’m not a food expert. I don’t know if all cashews are dry roasted and that’s why I couldn’t find any that said so on the packaging, but I didn’t want to take any chances and — gasp — serve raw cashews, so I bought some unsalted nuts and toasted ’em over medium heat until they smelled nice and fragrant.
These are chopped because I misread the recipe and basically chopped all of my nuts, which wasn’t necessary since some go in the sauce and get chopped in a food processor.
The nut chopper I stole from my mom.
2) Prep your veggies if you’re using them. I washed and chopped my broccoli into florets, washed and sliced my shroomies, and washed my snow pea pods.
2) Get your noodles cookin’. This is a wee bit different from regular pasta because we’re actually going to stir-fry the noodles in a bit, which means you just want to soften them up enough so you can get them in the stir-fry pan. I did this by bringing a large pot of water to an almost boil:
Then I removed the pot from the heat and threw in my noodles for about 10 minutes. The directions say they should be soft on the outside, yet still a little crunchy on the inside.
3) While your noodles get a spa treatment, add the sauce ingredients (1/2 cup basil leaves, 1/3 cup of your toasted cashews, 3-4 cloves of garlic, 1/4 cup coconut oil, 1 Tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice, 1 Tablespoon fish sauce, pinch of cayenne) to a food processor and blend until smooth-ish.
4) If your noodles are ready, go ahead and drain and rinse them with cold water to keep them from sticking together.
5) Get ready because this is where things start to go fast. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat, and when it’s sizzlin’ HOT, add a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil, swirl it around, and toss in your broccoli.
When it starts to turn a nice, bright green, toss in your mushrooms and snow peas.
Stir them around for a minute or so, then throw in the mostly cooked rice noodles and a couple spoonfuls of basil sauce to help keep them from sticking together.
Toss, toss, toss! Keep the pan nice and hot and just toss everything together for a minute or two, adding more sauce if necessary.
Once the noodles are cooked, remove the pan from the heat, throw in the rest of the sauce, mix it up, toss some more fresh basil and toasted cashews on top, and serve!
It’s green so it must be good for you.
With the added veggies, this is a pretty hearty meal. And, once the basic veggie prep work is finished (which should always be done with some good music and a glass of wine), can be done in about 15 minutes.
Even my meat-loving husband didn’t complain about this one.
Do you ever try cooking food inspired by other countries?
I need to get me one of those nut choppers!
I have no idea how old it is or where it came from, but I love it! Of course a good knife would suffice, but it’s not nearly as fun. ;)
Will definitely be trying this one – looks delish!!!
It was pretty tasty! Of course you could always throw some Chile Town in there for more flavor. :)
Looks good. And I too am impressed by your nut chopper. And also surprised that you say you aren’t a good cook. I feel that I have been misled. (Shakes head and walks slowly away in disappointment.)
Haha awwww don’t do that! I’m just not naturally good. I follow recipes. Sometimes they work out, and sometimes they don’t. But I feel like a “naturally” good cook could probably save an ailing recipe, whereas I usually chalk it up to the fact that it wasn’t a very good recipe to begin with, or I didn’t have the skills to master it. That said, I am getting better with all of this practice. In fact, every-now-and-then I’ll get crazy and do things like add vegetables (this one) or combine recipes to come up with my own. My world is expanding. ;)
I was teasing. I’m sure you’re a good cook. Your noodles up there look lovely. I think the naturally good cook thing is a myth anyway, and a myth that is actually pretty obnoxious and, I think, just perpetuated by diva chefs. Cooking is well within anyone’s grasp if they know how to read. As for fixing/doctoring/inventing recipes, it’s just experience. Some people get that experience when they’re younger because they have parents who both cook and teach, so it looks like they’re “natural cooks.” Others might have to learn it as adults.
Haha, I know. So was I. :)
But you make an excellent point – I definitely believe cooking is something anyone can learn. But I do think certain people are born with a bit of talent, too (not every “diva” chef, but certainly some chefs) — just like anyone can learn piano, but not everyone could sell out a concert. :)
I was recently struck with the desire to master cooking Indian food. I love all the unique spcie combinations you dont find in regular ol’ american food and the fact that a lot of recipes are vegetarian. not a veg but I like to limit my meat intake.
Thus far I’ve made a super simple version of chana masala I was pretty impressed with. And as soon as my broke-ass refrigerator is replaced I plan to conquer a few more recipes!
Mmmm! I love Indian food but haven’t managed much success when I actually try to make it. Please share that recipe for the chana masala! Aw, man… a broken fridge is a total bummer. Those things are NOT cheap to replace/repair, but kind of difficult to go without…
I made some substitutions because I was trying to use what I already had on hand (ground ginger for fresh, ground cardamom for cardamom pods, omitted cilantro) it still turned out tasty and one batch made enough for lunch to take to work for 3 days
YUM! I will be making that. I’ll probably have to wait until Justin’s out of town since he’s not a huge tomato fan, but I’m adding this to my list. :)
You had me Cashews…..they are like so good … like bacon..makes stuff better the dish sounds yummy overall…. though.
oh BTW i been reading your blog for so long …well I thought i should kinda have one too
I started a google+ and as a show of thanks and appreciation I shared one of your posts from the beginning of the year as my first official post and shout out to you to kick things off officially. Don’t have much viewership cause just started so many not be to much of help to you right now as far as extra traffic.
Anyways thought I let you know here is the link if you want to see I also updated my avatar let me know what you think if you go. https://plus.google.com/103901693559575910778/about
Yay good for you!!! I checked it out and it looks awesome so far! I don’t really use Google+ because I don’t understand it much – you’ll have to let me know how that works for you and whether you think it’s somehow worth trying to link my blog to it (if that’s even possible). Writing is cathartic – I think it’s fantastic you started a blog!
Thanks for stopping by ! what do you think of the other avatar ? Google+ looks cool so far what you could do is write your blog normally then share it on google + as well you will end up having 2 different sets of viewers I Think but should increase you exposure.
I like the avatar! Earth is cool. :) I suppose I should probably look more into that – ugh, social media has gotten SO confusing!
Oh this looks so awesome! Too bad my hubby wouldn’t eat it. He simply won’t try Asian food, it’s so frustrating since I love it so much.
Hmm… what if you used pasta instead of rice noodles and called it Italian? ;)
Looks lovely and please keep the cooking posts coming! I love seeing what you are making. It gives me ideas of different things to try.
I think that Stephanie really said it best, most people that you would think are cooking divas just have a passion for it and have so much experience that they can whip something up or add a pinch of this or that and know what the taste is going to be. They know, because they have tried it before.I think that’s one of the joys of cooking, spending some time learning new things and trying subtle differences in recipes.
Aw, thanks! Excellent points. You guys are starting to make me think that maybe I can cook! Or at least I’m capable of getting there. Sometimes I think maybe I should just narrow this entire blog down to cooking, eating, and travel, but then I think of all of the people who do that SO much better than me and I get all defeatist. Plus, how would I work in my lovely rants about children and the military? :)
Your rants are my favourite ones.
Mine too. :)
Looks far healthier than what you can get in a Thia restaurant, I might have to try my hand at that one.
I honestly don’t even know if that’s an actual Thai recipe, but I called it that since it uses Thai noodles. But yes. It’s definitely healthier than what you would get at a restaurant!
I used to cook, but was never, ever a natural either. I stopped after I met my hubby because he is a natural. I hate him. No I don’t. I am really good at watching him cook and judging the results!
I think that sounds like a dream job. :)