I found myself having to make do, about two weeks ago when I returned from a business trip, and came home to find an almost-bare-pantry. Although I enjoy cooking, I hate coming out of the office, or home from a trip, into the kitchen to ask myself, “What are we going to have for supper?”
Often we we do go out for a meal when I get home, but there are other times when being in the kitchen and home food is essential: business trips usually mean either not eating meals when one should, or eating food one would not necessarily choose, or too much of a good thing – like in restaurants.
So home food and being in the kitchen is also soul food.
Over the years, an essential coping mechanism is a rough plan of the week’s meals which does two things: it helps with the shopping and also provides an easy answer to the aforementioned question. So, on getting home, I knew that dinner was to be angel fish on the Weber, accompanied by potatoes boiled in their jackets (for them that eat potatoes) and a salad. So, to the makings: fish and potatoes were all present and correct. Not so, however, the makings of a salad: the few remaining leaves in the fridge had seriously seen much better days and there was nary a tomato to be seen, let alone a remnant of cucumber.
So, into the garden I go, not really sure what I’m going to find or do. And then I spy the red cabbages that are beginning to form nice little heads. Hmm…. Could do something here, as long as it’s not traditional coleslaw which I loathe. I then remember a wonderful recipe book borrowed from our neighbour, not yet returned, and having been quite taken by a Thai salad, that had red cabbage as a key ingredient.
Baby cabbage in hand, I return to the kitchen and fetch Pat’s recipe book which has been languishing next to my bed for a few weeks and find the recipe.
Needless to say, not all these ingredients were present or correct, either, but here is my version of this Asian salad, made with other bits and pieces that I was able to forage from the garden:
1 small red cabbage
3 or 4 spinach leaves
4 or 5 green beans
1 fresh chilli (or more, depending on one’s taste and the fierceness of the chilli)
a handful of Vietnemese coriander (grown from a piece from a fellow blogger)
3 to 4 green onion leaves
small bunch of chives
Shred / finely chop all these ingredients and put them into a large bowl.
For the dressing, I didn’t do a separate mix, but rather flung or sprinkled everything directly over the ingredients, tossing and tasting as I went along: a teaspoon of sugar, juice of a lemon (lime would be better), a glug of olive oil, a good dash of sesame oil and a sprinkling of soy sauce and white wine vinegar (in the absence of mirin), as well as salt and pepper to taste.
This ended up being a great accompaniment to our angel fish.
I plan to do more of the wonderful recipes in this book before returning it to its rightful owner.
Recipe adapted from The Cake the Buddha Ate: More Quiet Food ©The Bhuddhist Institute of South Africa, 2011: Jacana, Auckland Park, Johannesburg, South Africa