My life of eating dairy free continues…I will try not to waste your time whining about how I had to purge my fridge of artisan cheeses or pass by delicious flavors of ice cream at the market this week. (Brown butter almond brittle with sweet cream, anyone? Uh-huh. Try passing that up with out crying just a little.) Honestly I am really having to be creative in my cooking and eating these days. It’s showing me just how much I depend on dairy in the kitchen and how prevalent it is in my diet. Because Asian cuisine is mostly dairy free, we’ve been eating a lot of it lately. We love it all: Chinese, Thai, Korean, Japanese. We also enjoy a good bowl of Pho at our favorite Vietnamese joint in town.
When we were there recently, I ordered their cabbage salad (along with Pho and a banh mi. I’m eating for two, remember?) It was nothing short of amazing. I scarfed it down at an embarrassing rate and annoyed Stu the whole time with comments like, “This is too good to be a salad!! How can I make this? Ok, I know I taste fish sauce…Yep there’s lime and cilantro. What are these… crispy onion strings?? Praise the lord!” It was culinary discovery that quickly turned to copy cat obsession.
I veered away from the dressing they used toward a more Thai influenced sauce with peanuts and curry. Maybe it’s not traditional Vietnamese, but it worked. This dressing would be so good as a dipping sauce for grilled shrimp or even spread on a sandwich.
-3 cups shredded cabbage (Napa cabbage would work best, but I used white cabbage.)
-1 cup shredded red cabbage
-3 carrots, grated
-Handful of snow peas
-1/2 cup diced green onion
-1/2 cup sliced almonds
-1 cup crunchy onions/onion strings
-2/3 cup of chopped cilantro
**Optional** 1-2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
-Juice of 1 lime
-2 tablespoons red curry paste
-1 cup natural or organic crunchy peanut butter (It needs to be natural, so that it has the oil on top.)
-1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
-1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
-1 tablespoon fish sauce OR 2 teaspoons soy sauce
-2/3 cup water
-1 tablespoon sugar
Assembling the dressing:
1. Whisk all ingredients together until emulsified. You could shake in a large Mason jar if you have one handy.
Assembling the Salad:
1. Wash and dry all vegetables. Grate carrots and chop green onions (white and green parts) and cilantro.
2. Mix two cabbages and spread out in a serving dish. I laid each of the remaining ingredients in little piles before dressing. I think it looks best to serve that way. Also, I left the chicken on the side, so people could add if they wanted or leave it off for a truly vegan dish.
3. Pour dressing on top right before serving and mix together with tongs.
In life news, my maternity leave ended this week. I would say I have mixed feelings, but I don’t. I am pouty and sad about it. My cousins and friends living in Canada told me that most new moms there are given between 6-12 months maternity leave. MONTHS!!! They can’t believe we only get 6-8 weeks in the States. It does seem too soon, especially after a c-section. I’m still very sore and have a ways to go before I will feel normal doing everyday activities. Oh well, back to the daily grind I guess. I only have one month of teaching until summer break, but one month away from Gemma feels like a lifetime. Thankfully Stu will be watching her most days, and family or friends will watch the days he is working…and I will rush home the very minute that contract time is up, so that I don’t miss another second with her.
I’m intentionally keeping any pictures of her out of site during work, or I might just burst into tears and call home 17 times a day. Maybe after being gone all day, 3:00 am feedings won’t be such a chore since they let me snuggle her just a few minutes more.