What a great day! I am up cooking at 1:00am because I can’t sleep. Back from China on Thursday night and slept perfectly for the first three nights. Go figure?
Shrimp shells in the freezer go into the pot (great freezer pantry item to keep on hand) along with some shallots, ginger and garlic. As they sizzle in the peanut oil I cut the red bell pepper thin, chop the green onions, basil, cilantro, mint and the leftover steak from my Thai steak salad last night. I add beef stock to the now bright pink, translucent shrimp shells creating an incredibly aromatic “surf and turf Thai broth”. The rice noodles get blanched while the shrimp shells finish giving themselves fully to the flavorful broth. I strain the shrimp shells out. I add everything back to the pot including the rice noodles. I taste it and it is almost there. What do I need? Heat, acid and salt. I add the remaining 2 TB of my homemade chile sauce (red jalapeno simmered in water, drained and pureed with rice vinegar and sugar), the juice of a lime and a pinch of salt.
NOW IT IS THERE! It always amazes me how a touch of salt and acid can bring all the flavors of a dish together. I taste the pure essence of shrimp underneath the rich beef broth. The noodles provide the texture and act as a sponge taking in the heat of the chiles. The mint, basil and cilantro make a pact to join forces and create a new, third flavor that is better than each of them alone-bright, citrusy, a slight anise perfume. A cold beer is a brilliant match. As I enjoy my noodle dish in the dead silence of the house I think about my superstar son who blocked a hundred goals as I kicked the soccer ball relentlessly at him at the park today. Only a dad can understand the joy of the determination on his face. I adore him. I think about the tender homemade ravioli with ricotta and spinach filling that my daughter and I made together for dinner tonight (my first dinner!). Her face was just as determined as she manipulated the sheets of pasta through the roller. My wife, what can I say, I am the most blessed man on the planet. I hope you had a great nights sleep and ate something amazing with the ones you love! Goodnight (I hope!). Off for another attempt…
Eat well, Enjoy life, Be happy