Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Evacuation eats

This isn't exactly what to eat while you are evacuated from your home due to a raging wildfire, but what to eat when you return. When the town is hot and smoky and subdued, and "thank you firefighters" signs line the main streets, and you are thankful to do those mundane house things like mow your own lawn and sleep in your own bed. And guilty too, for that thankfulness, because you know that just down the hill, your neighbors are sorting through ash for their possessions and still grabbing food on the run in hotels and in friend's guest rooms. For a while, life's edges are sharp again.

When we came home this Sunday, from a sweaty weekend away—two adults, one baby, two cats, one dog on the run—we were ready for something simple, something soothing and cooling at once. We were hungry after days spent obsessively refreshing our browser. (Are we evacuated now? Are we evacuated now?) So while the baby napped, I made us all a completely bastardized version of Thai noodles based on a John Thorne recipe I found in an Organic Style magazine recipe booklet.

Ground Meat with Basil & Rice Noodles

12 oz. rice noodles, soaked in cool water until pliable, but not soft
peanut or grapeseed oil for stir-frying
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
1 t. Thai red curry paste
1 pound protein in small pieces (I like tofu and chicken combined, both cut in small cubes)
2 T. fish sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 T. natural sugar (or regular, if that's all you've got)
1 overflowing cup of packed basil leaves, torn into big pieces

Heat 2 T. oil in wok or saute pan at medium heat. Cook garlic and onions until they start to turn golden. Add curry paste and stir in.
Turn up heat and add chicken. When it starts to brown, add in the tofu and stir it around a bit, until tofu warms through.
Add fish sauce, stock, and sugar. Bring to a simmer and add noodles. Cook until noodles are soft, adding more stock as necessary.
Add basil and stir until wilted.

Serve with sliced cucumbers toss and chilled with a little seasoned rice wine vinegar.

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