I realize the need we all have for light reading and pleasant distractions at the current time, I’ve just had a hard time finding the space in which to be the person who writes it.
I have a number of friends and acquaintances who are published and I always feel like such a lightweight among them. Here they are, writing about serious, intellectual topics and I’m over here writing feel good pieces about gardening (cottage! moon!) and the latest home design and life style trend (Wabi Sabi, which I’m so totally on board with and had a good chat about it while walking the dogs in the park with Betty the other morning). It’s not that I don’t pay attention to the current news – I pay too much attention I think. That’s not my only excuse – with work and marriage and motherhood and summer, it’s been hard to carve out time to sit down by myself to do much of anything these days. But since I have a few articles due (one past, one upcoming), I thought I’d try to get the juices flowing with sitting down and writing here. So consider this your feel good piece of the day.
I’ve been on a Banh Mi kick here recently and have been babbling about this new tofu marinade I’ve come up with to a few friends. I read this recipe in the NY Times (yes, I know it’s pork and not a marinade) and decided to pull the ingredients together to become a marinade. It’s been a hit here, so you should try it.
I found a pickle recipe to work from that I really like too, although I cannot give proper credit for it, as I got it as a photograph of a recipe from the wife (that I’ve never met) of an old college friend through another college friend on Facebook. See? Facebook is still good for the occasional recipe. But I haven’t the faintest clue as to where it springs from.
Oh, and for those of you who don’t know what Banh Mi is, it’s a Vietnamese sandwich that evolved from the French occupation of that country. Serve it on a crusty bread with mayo, pickled veggies, fresh herbs and veggies and a protein. It’s supposed to be sweet and sour and spicy and filling and there are endless variations. I have at least two cookbooks on loan to me right now related to my current fascination with it. While there are recommended ingredients (like daikon radish) that one is supposed to use for a more authentic version, regular readers here will know I am more of a fan of using what’s on hand that suits the nature of the dish rather than going out of my way to get not-local ingredients to be considered ‘authentic’. I also tend to go with what we like, so when someone in this house doesn’t like cilantro used like lettuce, I find another green for their sandwich. It’s just how it goes sometime.
So make this. It might not be authentic, you might want to make your own alterations and it definitely is not going to fix the state of the world anytime soon, but hey, it’s a good distraction and will fuel you for the work ahead.
Tofu Banh Mi
5-6 tablespoons sriracha or other chili sauce
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fish or soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
zest of lime
Combine. Pour over sliced tofu and let marinate overnight, turning about halfway through so that tofu is evenly marinated.
Saute or roast until tofu is firm and the outer edge has a slight crust, pouring the marinade over while the tofu cooks.
For the pickles:
Slice radishes and julienne carrots. Toss with a tsp salt, place in a strainer over a bowl and let sit 30 minutes.
Combine 1 1/4 cups rice vinegar, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 cup water and crushed red pepper. Bring to a simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
Put vegetables in jar, pour vinegar mix over. Cover and let sit at least an hour, but they can sit overnight. (onions can be quite nice in this too.)
On a nice, crusty, sturdy bun, spread a (maybe slightly un)healthy amount of your favorite mayo on both sides. Layer your marinated, baked (cooled) tofu, a thick layer of cilantro (or arugula, or other greens), pickled veggies, fresh slices of cucumber (fresh slices of jalepeno if you’d like, but only if you like really hot, because that marinade is a good amount of heat) and on one bun and slap the other on top. Serve.
A word on the photos – Most were shot with my phone. The first two are an item we found on a recent excursion to Wal-Mart that screamed #merica to us – board shorts with a matching trucker’s cap with fireworks and a kitty, holding a stick of lite dynamite, riding an American Flag American Eagle. It says a lot about our country to me right now. Feel free to discuss.
The rest are all meant to be a little more soothing and distractionary – Betsy beagle (follow her on instagram for more @betsy.thebeagle), the river on a recent trip and my garden. (If you want to see pictures of my garden every day, you can follow me on the instagram – not a plug, but I do hear I post soothing distractions daily, so @beckyecalvert if you’re inclined.)
(Was this a pleasant enough distraction for now? Okay, good. I’ll try to work on more.)